Biking from Sandy Hook to Long Branch
Biking from Sandy Hook to Long Branch
This is a short and relatively uninteresting section of the coast, mostly along bike paths at the side of the coastal road. Unfortunately, the ocean is not often visible here and most of the beaches are private.
This is only about 7 miles, but is sufficiently different in character from the road further south that I've made a separate report for this short road.
Surface and safety:
From the entrance of Sandy Hook south to the Rumson Bridge (about 3 miles) there is a separate bike path consisting of concrete sidewalk slabs at the base of the sea wall. For the next mile through the beach town of Sea Bright there is no path for bikes, but the road is amply wide. From the town of Sea Bright down to Long Branch (about 3 miles) there is a very wide marked shoulder (about 8 feet) where bikes can ride with a great deal of elbow room.
Along the beach in Long Branch is a concrete boardwalk that is a busy place for joggers, bikers, and walkers. There is a dedicated bike path alongside the boardwalk, and during the summer weekends, bikes are not allowed on the boardwalk itself.
Bike safety is generally good, but the wide shoulder between Sea Bright and Long Branch encourages aggressive and impatient New Jersey drivers to try passing on the right using the bike lane. Watch for cars stopping ahead of you to make left turns, because the cars behind you will try to use your lane.
Points of interest:
Long Branch itself is a magnet for exercisers. The boardwalk of about 2.5 miles is always full of joggers and bikers. At the south end of Long Branch a right turn on Cedar Avenue will take you over in about a half mile to Monmouth University, which has some historic buildings. The administration building was President Wilson's summer home and was used for the filming of the movie "Annie." The library was a home for the Guggenheims during their heyday.
On the boardwalk at Long Branch is a statue of President Garfield, who died there after being shot by an assasin.
Other than at Long Branch, there are no real points of interest in this short span. There are public beaches at Sea Bright and a longer one at Long Branch, but 90% of the beaches in this area are private.
What's not to like:
This is a relatively boring span where you can put your head down and make good time. It is frustrating that so much of the beach along this area is private, and moreover, not visible from the road until you reach the Long Branch boardwalk.
In the summer of 2004 there was a big development of oceanfront condos in Long Branch. The developers cut off the bike/jogging path for over a year. The path opened up again in June 2005. This is really condo city, with a huge jumble of hundreds of apartments clustered along the ocean, spoiling the view for everyone else and creating lots of extra traffic. The sign on the highway said that the units are available, "starting in the $600,000s." A month later it said "$700,000." Then it said "Sold out." That's the way the world works.
This section of the coast is on a narrow sand bar, and there is virtually no parking anywhere from Sandy Hook down to Long Branch. You can park in Long Branch itself with no difficulty or across the Rumson bridge, which is at the midpoint between Sandy Hook and Long Branch.
Photos and comments:
Sea Bright bike path, looking north towards Sandy Hook
Most serious bikers seem to use the road (on the left here) instead of this path. There are usually few people, either pedestrians or bikers, on the path. The concrete sections are a little uneven, but not bad.
The road, on the other hand, has several storm gratings as you come south near the Rumson bridge. Narrow tires (23c) fit into the slots in the gratings, but the slots aren't long enough to cause a problem. Still, I'd be careful.
Wide shoulder on the road heading south to Long Branch
Private beach clubs line the shore here (Members only, say the signs)
Concrete boardwalk at Long Branch
This boardwalk is usually full of runners and walkers. Bikes are not allowed on the boardwalk, but must stay on the dedicated bike path on the right. Nonetheless, many bikers use the boardwalk itself, especially out of season or in the early morning. During the season there are seemingly scores of police on bikes, whose sole job appears to be keeping other bikers off the boardwalk.
Palm trees on New Jersey beaches?
Yes, palm trees have become fashionable along the shore in this section. They're real palm trees, and come winter they are uprooted. New ones are brought in for the next season.
Bike path adjoining the boardwalk in Long Branch
Pier Village on the boardwalk in Long Branch
This is a new area in 2005 and is really quite attractive on the ocean front. Behind this nice part, however, is a terrible jumble of condos.
My favorite boardwalk refreshment stand, south end of Long Branch
Well, it has been my favorite place for a cup of coffee in the morning for years, but in 2005 it never opened. Hopefully, it will again.
Boardwalk ends at south end of Long Branch
Here at the south end of Long Branch the jogging path ends and private condos take over the beach. Bikers have to take to the road from here to Asbury Park (covered in another web page).
Woodrow Wilson Hall at Monmouth University, Long Branch
Fountains behind Woodrow Wilson Hall