This 41-mile one-way bike ride takes you through three distinct coastal regions in Monmouth County, NJ. Exploring the Bayshore Region on the Henry Hudson Trail, meandering through Gateway National Recreation Area on the Sandy Hook Multi-Use Path then following the beach resorts from Sea Bright to Asbury Park. There is no need to double back on this ride as it starts and ends at high platform train stations on the North Jersey Coast Line. We have a lot to cover here, so let’s dive in.
The ride starts at NJ TRANSIT’s Aberdeen-Matawan Train Station. Heading north on Main St the route crosses over the Garden State Parkway followed by a right turn on Gerard Ave to the Henry Hudson trailhead at Fireman’s Park. Follow the pathway for 10 miles and turn left on Avenue D in Atlantic Highlands. Turn right on Center Ave and turn left onto the trail at Hennessy St. The path winds through parking lots and boatyards. The surface then turns to crushed stone with incredible bay views between Atlantic Highlands and Popamora Park in Highlands. In Highlands, you’ll pass the Seastreak Ferry terminal, home of the East Coast’s longest ferry route (Highlands to Nantucket). Continue on Shore Rd and Bay Avenue to the Route 36 Highlands Bridge. There are bike lanes on this bridge but the easiest way to Sandy Hook is to bike cautiously on the north (bayside) sidewalk.
The route deviates through Sandy Hook, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. The beaches are free for anyone that walks or bikes into the park. The campground is booked through the summer, but check for last-minute cancellations. After about 90 minutes of leisurely riding, you’ll be back at the Highlands Bridge junction where most trail users return back on the Henry Hudson Trail. We’re staying left along the seawall on the path to Sea Bright. In just over a mile the path ends and you will have to merge onto Route 36. There is a half-mile section with a narrow shoulder to the intersection with the Sea Bright Bridge. South of here the shoulder widens and it is a fast 3 miles to Long Branch. Turn left on Atlantic Ave and follow the beachside streets in Long Branch.
The route then takes you on the very wide shoulder bike lanes of Route 71 past some eccentric mansions through Elberon, Deal, Allendale and Loch Arbour. Turn left and follow the shore of Deal Lake to enter the City of Asbury Park which is known for its history, LBTQ+ hospitality, and the only parking-protected bike lanes on the Jersey Shore (Asbury Ave).
The ride ends at the Asbury Park Transportation Center. From here you can either take the North Jersey Coast Line back to the start point, board the 317 Bus back to Philly or continue cycling south to Manasquan and then west on the Edgar Felix Memorial Bikeway to the Allaire State Park Campground.
Driving to the Start Point
1. Aberdeen Matawan is 78 miles from Central Philadelphia Driving Directions
2. Parking at the Aberdeen-Matawan station is $3 weekdays and free on weekends.
Return train ride from Asbury Park to Aberdeen-Matawan Station
1. On the MyTix mobile app purchase a ticket from Asbury Park to Aberdeen-Matawan ($8). There is a cross-platform transfer at Long Branch.
2. Secure your bike in the accessible area of the rail car with a bungee cord.
3. Travel time back to Aberdeen-Matawan is 45 minutes.
4. No bikes on trains – July 4th and Labor Day (folding bikes permitted). Alternate transportation options.
Public Transportation Info from Camden and Philadelphia
Download the NJ TRANSIT MyTix for mobile bus and train tickets and the TransitApp for real-time location-based bus and train information.
Use the SEPTA Key Card to cover your trip to or from Trenton Station.
If you have ever traveled to New York City via SEPTA and NJ TRANSIT this trip should almost be a no-brainer. However, NJ TRANSIT’s onerous Bike on Rail policy makes this trip complicated. If you have a folding e-bike you are in luck, you can take them on any train (folded, so have fun schlepping it). For the rest of us, we need to plan around the time restrictions and holiday bike bans.
You’ll be changing trains at Rahway. On weekends there is typically a 45-55 minute layover. Take advantage of that, Rahway has undergone a major downtown revival with many places to dine. Melao is a pleasant cafe, just across the street from the station for a quick breakfast or lunch. You can even stay overnight in style at the Watt Hotel.
Suggested Directions to Aberdeen-Matawan Station on a Weekend Morning:
On the MyTix mobile app purchase a ticket from Trenton to Aberdeen-Matawan (via Rahway $9.75)
1. Take 9:33 SEPTA Trenton Line from Jefferson Station to Trenton Station
2. Take the 10:56 NE Corridor Train to Rahway Station
3. Arrive in Rahway at 11:47.
4. 55-minute layover. Take some time to eat or explore downtown Rahway. Use the underpass and elevator to access the southbound platform.
5. Board the 12:42 North Jersey Coast Line Train (Long Branch). It’s a 30-minute ride to Aberdeen-Matawan Station.
From Asbury Park Train Station to Philadelphia:
Bus – This is your best return option for a day trip. Route 317 runs every two hours directly to Market St in Philadelphia ($22.50). Two bikes can fit in the luggage bay and the last bus departs at 9:53 PM.
Train – There are weekend non-folding bike restrictions on trains leaving New York. So any inbound train departing Asbury Park between 3 and 6 PM will leave you stranded at Rahway. The 7:49 departure will connect you with the last SEPTA train of the day at Trenton.