Why I went to Jonathan Woods

Completing that summer in New Jersey was my final ride, an exploration day at Jonathan Woods Preserve in Booton. While far from an all day epic or trail system worthy of driving to NJ from out of state, Jonathan Woods embodied a bit of that raw old school unimproved trail riding, where horse paths have been reclaimed by the forests and converted to singletrack through time rather than intentional construction. Riding several hours in NJ without seeing another hiker or rider is next to impossible in the most densely populated state, however at Jonathan Woods, you can really forget yourself and enjoy getting lost in a peaceful woodland just 30 miles west of New York.

Rolling through the thicket is hardly a place to claim a KOM on Strava. Instead anyone willing to roll these trails will be reminded of the days where an Avocet Speedometer was considered advanced technology on a steel Fat Chance. For those looking to really be aggressive, a Rockshox Judy would turn the trail chatter into slightly less trail chatter when perfectly lubed and tuned. Long before races, KOMs, bike parks, and shuttles, riding was very much about the simple adventures and joys of getting lost in nature.

Jonathan Woods offered unlikely surprises like this area of tall pines where New Jersey Oaks and Maples meet Vermont pines or these granite rocks were stacked tall by the Ogre of Ogden on his way to a local dinner for morning corn beef hash and buttermilk pancakes.

To clock some decent weekend miles, I parked at the Tourne County Park and looped the Tourne, followed the river, and climbed up Glen Beach to the entrance of Jonathan Woods off Kitchell Rd.

My understanding is these trails were really hammered by Sandy back in 2012 and took quite a while for local maintainers to clear all the downed trees. With the Morris Country Park service now overseeing resource management, a master plan for future development should be on the table for public discussion in October. Toning down the raw elements, constructing some new singletrack in accordance with modern standards for sustainability, and preserving the natural woodland feel could easily launch this area on to the top of my riding list. Linking Jonathan Woods to Split Rock would open up endless opportunities for exploration and longer rides without riding riding in circles on a postage stamp. Lewis Morris and the Tourne have some great trails, however the limited size of these parks, usually means repeating the same trails or finding yourself back at the start after 15-20 minutes. In the meantime, this little diamond in the rough offers a little local adventure with some fun technical moments following the ridgeline along the red trail shortly before the Hog Pen Rocks.

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