HIGH BRIDGE BOROUGH'S COMMONS PARK
79 Main Street, High Bridge, NJ 08829
MORRIS COUNTY LINE
40 Vernoy Road, Califon, NJ 07830
Phone: 908-782-1158 * Fax: 908-806-4057
photo courtesy of Bob Pennisi
ABOUT THE COLUMBIA TRAIL
Completed in 1875, This former rail line was established by the Central Railroad of New
Jersey as the High Bridge Branch. The line ran
from High Bridge to Port Oram, currently known as Wharton, in Morris County. The line accommodated passengers, but was highly
regarded for its shipments of iron ore from the
mines in Morris County. The most spectacular
wreck occurred on April 18, 1885 when Engine #112 (known as The Columbia), was pulling 45 cars and plummeted off a 60-foot wooden trestle into the South Branch of the Raritan River.
The wooden trestle was replaced by steel piers in 1930 and is now known as the Ken Lockwood Gorge Bridge. The last passenger excursion occurred in 1935 and the last freight train ran on April 1, 1976. In the mid 1990s, the Columbia Gas Company of West Virginia constructed a gas line under the rail bed. The surface rights were then transferred to the Hunterdon County Division of Parks and Recreation for use as a recreational trail. Today
the trail spans seven miles from High Bridge to the Morris County line. It provides passive recreation to the surrounding communities through hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing.
WILDLIFE AND HABITAT The Columbia Trail travels through both deciduous and evergreen forests, providing a natural corridor for wildlife such as deer, raccoon, coyote, and fox. Reptiles and amphibians have also been found
throughout the trail. Paralleling the South Branch of the Raritan River, the trail provides a refuge and breeding habitat for these animals.
Herptiles that have been observed include the Northern Water Snake and Eastern Spadefoot.
The Columbia Line offers an excellent view of Lake Solitude, which provides a sanctuary for various waterfowl including Common and Hooded Mergansers and Great Blue Herons. Pileated Woodpeckers also inhabit this area.
The relatively flat trail curves along the mountainside above the South Branch of the Raritan River for seven miles between High Bridge and the Morris County line. Two bridges carry the trail over Cokesbury Road and the South Branch of the Raritan River. The second bridge is elevated approximately 80 feet and spans a length of 260 feet over the river. Several roads bisect the park making for easy
The trail’s natural surface allows visitors to enjoy the park in several ways. Hiking is probably the most popular. The trail is wide enough to provide a great opportunity for biking as well as cross-country skiing in the winter.
|Soccer & Baseball/Softball Fields
The Hunterdon County Parks and Recreation Division is dedicated to preserving open space and natural resources, providing safe parks and facilities, and offering educational and recreational opportunities, all contributing to an enhanced quality of life for present and future generations.
The trail is located in portions of High Bridge and Califon Boroughs, Clinton, Lebanon, and Tewksbury Townships. The trailhead is located across from the High Bridge
Commons parking lot at 79 Main Street, High
Bridge 08829. The terminus is located at 362
West Valley Brook Road, Califon 07830, at the
County border with Morris County.
HIGH BRIDGE BOROUGH'S COMMONS PARK: 79 Main Street, High Bridge, NJ 08829
MORRIS COUNTY LINE:
40 VERNOY ROAD, CALIFON, NJ 07830
Directions from Clinton to Parking in High Bridge Boro: Proceed nor th on Route 31 for 1.7 miles to Route 513 North. Turn right and follow Route 513 into High Bridge. Go about 1 mile, pass under the train tracks, and turn left into the center of High Bridge. One block beyond the church, turn left into the municipal
parking lot, marked by a “The Commons” sign.
Direction from Clinton to Parking at West
Valley Brook Road: Proceed as above to High
Bridge. Stay on Route 513 and proceed through
Califon. Vernoy Road is on the right about 1
mile north of Califon. Turn onto Vernoy Road
and travel another mile. After the river,
continue straight on Valley Brook Road, and the
parking area is on the right.
TRAIL MAP AND GUIDE INFORMATION
Several other trails connect to the Columbia Trail. The Taylor-Wharton Steelworkers Historic Greenway splits off to the southeast about 1/3 mile from High Bridge. This 7-mile trail was created by the Union Forge Heritage Association to showcase several historically significant properties in High Bridge. To learn more, visit www.unionforgeheritage.org.
At about 2 1/2 miles, the Highlands Trail branches off to the west of the Columbia Trail. The Highlands Trail extends 150 miles from
Storm King Mountain on the Hudson River in New York south to Riegelsville on the Delaware River in New Jersey. Visit the New York - New
Jersey Trail Conference’s website, www.nynjtc.org/region/highlands-trail.
The Columbia Trail continues over eight miles into Morris County, and is managed by Morris County Parks Commission. Contact them at 973-326-7600 or www.morrisparks.net
Trail Guides are set up as foldable brochures. Please print and fold in half vertically to view in proper order. Additionally, you may have to rearrange pages. Maps should be printed on Legal Size Paper.