Stories and Reports

Jersey Shore skating: reports in 2004

Skating inline, outside but near the Hudson Valley

what's here

bulletOct-04: Atlantic Highlands - Highlands - Sea Bright
bulletOct-04: Long Branch to Bradley Beach
bulletOct-04: Bay Head - Seaside Heights - Island Beach Park
bulletJune-04: Belmar evening skates
bulletJune-04: new off-road path at Sandy Hook

see also

bulletmore New Jersey Stories + Photos
bulletmore Skate Hudson Valley stories + photos
 
bullet Bob Lucky's Guide to biking the Jersey Shore

KenR, October 2004: Atlantic Highlands to Highlands to Sea Bright one-way

On an off-season weekday in October I started skating from Avenue D near Rt 36, which is by the east end of the Henry Hudson Rail Trail -- sort of between Leonardo and Atlantic Highlands. After going north a ways on Avenue D, I turned east on Bay Av into the business center of Atlantic Highlands. Atlantic Highlands was nice: near the water, several food options, ferry to/from Manhattan, public toilets near ferry.

Ocean Blvd was a long climb going east, but I thought it was a worthy climb I'd like to do again: mostly rather smooth pavement, reasonably wide traffic lane, often with some shoulder. Around three steeper sections, but mostly a moderate-grade climb. Interesting variations of curves and slopes, and some views. Tthen at the top of the climb just off the road is the reward of the great viewpoint of Mt Mitchell, where I could see across the water of the Bay all the way to Manhattan and Long Island.

Continued down to the end of the road, then east on high-speed high-traffic Rt 36 a short ways -- reasonably wide east-bound shoulder, though with a couple of entrance ramps to handle. Left at traffic light onto Linden Av and down a significant hill with a turn and a couple of intersections, finishing with a mod-steep downhill into an intersection. Right on Bay Av into Highlands, the Left onto some side streets to Shrewsbury Av, which was nice along the shore.

I crossed the water ("Shrewsbury River") east on Rt 36, by first going under the bridge, then up the entrance ramp and onto the main bridge. There's steel open grate section at the middle of the bridge roadway so I skated on the wide concrete sidewalk, then down to the shoulder of Rt 36 South (which was straightforward).

Then I thought I'd find out how it is to go from the bridge into the Sandy Hook park area, so I followed signs north to the Park entrance (which seemed straightforward). I remembered there's a nice paved off-road trail there, but I decided not to skate on it that day, and instead turned around followed the signs for Rt 36 South. This required crossing a lane of traffic on an uphill climb -- could get tricky if there had been a lot of traffic. Going west from Sandy Hook to Highlands looked like it would have been more straightforward.

Then I just skated on the south-bound shoulder of Rt 36 to Sea Bright. Mostly the shoulder was at least 2 feet wide and reasonably paved. I remember sometimes some rocks. No view of the ocean because there's a high "sea wall" along the east side of the rroad through that whole section. Lots of traffic, so it wasn't fun, but I skated narrow sometimes and was careful about rocks and bad pavement, and I made it through to Sea Bright with no problem.

Connecting Atlantic Highlands and Sandy Hook to the rest of the Jersey Shore: Since there's some nice skating and views in Sandy Hook park and in Atlantic Highlands with access from the Ferry from New York City -- and there's some rather pleasant skating thru Deal -- what about a tour that includes both?

The obvious connection is Rt 36 from Highlands to Long Branch. This section of of Rt 36 has mostly a reasonable shoulder -- thought it's usually not wide enough for full skating freedom, and of course there are some bad spots with rocks or rough pavement, and the shoulder is sometimes is taken over by entrance/exit ramps. The two problems are: (a) There's not much of an alternative for south-north travel in this section, so Rt 36 carries a lot of traffic. (b) The sea wall blocks any view of the ocean that might be a compensating benefit.

I'm willing to endure these 5+ miles in order to make a one-way tour from the ferry to a train station. But not twice in one day as part of and tour that returns to its start point -- but perhaps there's an alternate route inland between Long Branch and Atlantic Highlands.

KenR, October 2004: Long Branch to Bradley Beach one-way

On an off-season weekday in October I skated from Long Branch south to Bradley Beach.

I started skating south on Ocean Av to Asbury Park: very wide and mostly rather nice pavement going thru Deal. Looks like there are other nice streets to explore to the west inland, if wanted to see something different on the other half of loop route.

Asbury Park: Ran into very rough pavement in south-bound lane of shore road (Ocean Av?) coming into Asbury Park. So I went back and tried going the other way west a little, and the Park Av bridge over the lake had a good surface.

Then I got the idea of exploring Deal Lake more, so I went further west to Interlaken and Wannamassa, and found a creative bakery called Grieco's Bakeshoppe on Wickapecko Dr near Sunset. I liked skating out along north side of the lake, but I didn't found much good skating on Sunset and other roads coming back along the south side of Deal Lake.

From going south on Park Av, I shifted west over to Grand Av. Soon I reached a lake, and it looked pretty, so I skated all the way around it, which was nice, and along the way gave me a view of an interesting building towards the shore. So until the shore area of Asbury Park gets renovated more, I'd prefer to skip that and aim my skating route to enjoy the lake instead.

I continued south on Grand Av to its end (though I think I could have turned left one block before that), then a little east to find a footbridge over the water into Ocean Grove.

Ocean Grove: I saw some interesting archictecture, so instead of going directly to the shore, I skated a bit south-southwest to the Auditorium area. Then east on a sidewalk in thru an open park to the shore -- nice enough, with boardwalk with signs for "No Rollerblading". Explored back inland again and discovered that Main Ave has some nice food options and other shops. Then back to the shore again and south to hit Fletcher Lake, west along that to a road across it into Bradley Beach.

Bradley Beach: The street east along Fletcher Lake to the shore had lots of coarse-stone pavement. The shore was pretty, but the road along it had mostly rather-coarse-stone pavement -- definitely not fun for my skating. I recommend finding some other skating route south thru Bradley Beach.  But the road along the north side of Sylvan Lake at the south end of town was mostly pretty smooth -- so maybe that could be included in a route south to reach Avon-by-the-Sea. The many food options for Bradley Beach seemed to be mostly out on Rt 71. Which is also the location of the NJ Transit train station.

KenR, October 2004: Bay Head - Seaside Heights - Island Beach Park one-way

On an off-season weekday in October I skated from the Bay Head Junction train station (NJ Transit) south to the end of the road in Island Beach State Park.

overview

There were some good parts, some bad parts, some boring parts. Overall I didn't feel like the percentage of good parts to make me want to skate again much south past Lyman Av or Princeton Av. And the whole "aesthetic" justification for the route is weak, because the road does not go all the way to the south end of Island Beach -- so you don't get to see much of the next barrier island south, Long Beach Island. And the last few miles of road are kinda boring anyway.

The good: Bay Blvd alongside the water of Barnegat Bay from Lavalette to Seaside Heights; the Seaside Heights boardwalk; Lake Av - Barnegat Av from Osborne Av in Bay Head to Mantoloking; Bay View Av in Berkeley and South Seaside Heights.

The bad: Coarse-stone pavement of much of the wide Rt 35 South shoulder.

The boring: Island Beach Park road straight with few features, unless you're into the subtleties of bushes and sand; and much of Rt 35 South.

details

From the Bay Head Junction train station, we liked Osborne Av, turned Right onto the eastern Lake Av and took this south onto Clayton and Barnegat , all the way to Princeton Av (mostly good pavement, but a few blocks coarse-stone in the middle).

Rt 35 South to Lavalette, much of shoulder was coarse-stone. Fortunately the traffic was light, so I was able to skate on the reasonably-smooth traffic lane some of the time when there were no vehicles coming behind me. I would not ever want to do this section in normal traffic conditions where I might have to skate in that shoulder almost the whole time.

I checked out two alternatives to the east side of Rt 35: Ocean Terrace in Normandy Beach around Seventh Av to Jacobsen had coarser stone than the Rt 35 shoulder in that section. Sea View Rd near Tuna Way in Chadwick/Normandy was all dirt -- but perhaps it will be paved sometime.

At the traffic light at Ortley Av, I turned right onto Bay Blvd, which had mostly smooth pavement and nice water views right next to Barnegat Bay.

At Eisenhower Av I turned Left, then Right onto Rt 35 South, and continued Straight onto Central Av when Rt 35 curved away west to the bridge over the bay. A couple of blocks with sections with no shoulder, but it worked out OK for me in the light traffic that day.

(? perhaps instead, skating against traffic in the shoulder of Rt 35 North and continuing straight south onto Boulevard might have worked? I don't know, I didn't try it.)

Left onto Hiering Av, and it was somewhat coarse-stone, so I soon found a ramp to get up on the Boardwalk -- wood boards in reasonably good condition, interesting feeling to skate on the boards, different views of the ocean and tourist shops. After the shops ended, it was concrete "boards", and a little further I got off and continued south on Ocean Terrace.

Turned Right on "I" Street, went west on this all the way to its end, then Left on Bay View Av, south all the way to it's end (mostly good pavement, and more water views). Left on 24th Av, Right on Central Av to the entrance gate to the park.

Island Beach State Park

Fee charged for motor vehicle entrance and parking, but not for bicyclists (or skaters). The park road has signs indicating bicycling, and there is a reasonable shoulder on both sides, usually at least 2 feet wide. Pavement is mostly reasonable in traffic lanes and shoulders, there of course there are some cracks and stones and other irregularities sometimes.  Almost all flat and straight. And not much to see out to either side -- except thousands and thousands of low bushes and sand dune plants -- you can't see the water from the road.

There are several places with parking for beach access. Perhaps the best one for skaters is somewhere in the middle, where there are two board-paths for wheelchair access to the water views:  one to the ocean and one to the bay, with a white-painted cross-walk on the road connecting between them. I also saw a board-path at Swimming area #1, but there was more sand on its boards. The beach access at the south end of the road requires walking in sand in order to get to see the water, and the view their didn't seem any better than the board-path views a few miles closer to the entrance.

For me, a more satisfying skating goal would be to reach the Seaside Heights boardwalk after enjoying Bay Blvd.

Michele, June 2004: Belmar evening skates

We have a short, social skate in Belmar on Tuesdays and Fridays leaving 7pm on Ocean Ave and Tenth. In front of the Mayfair Hotel. We usually do dinner afterwards and on Fridays hang out. see www.belmarskatinggroup.com for more info.

Ken, June 2004: new off-road path at Sandy Hook

The new 5.5-mile paved path in the Sandy Hook park is beautiful. Thanks to an alert from Michele, I got to skate it already.

Sandy Hook is a narrow spit of sand sorta visible down south across the mouth of New York Harbor from Brooklyn and Staten Island. There's a few miles that would have to be travelled on the roads (mostly with shoulders, but perhaps some tricky sections) to get to this new path from the train or ferry from Manhattan.

Best part is not far from the Park entrance where the path rose a little higher than the road and I was skating in the middle of the waters, the bay on one side and the ocean on the other.

bulletSmooth new pavement -- except some sections further north that aren't finished yet.
bulletLots of other views of the water and sand dunes.
bulletInteresting design with little curves -- not just a straight-line "rail trail" layout.
bulletSeveral food and beach and rest-room stops along the way.
bulletConnects to on-road loop at north end that goes thru a historic fort.

No skating on Park roads outside the northern fort -- is what the Park ranger told me, as he vigorously waved me over to his truck while I was enjoying a wonderful skate on the main park road. He kindly explained to me that if the Park traffic-enforcement patrol caught me skating on road instead of the path, I would be served with a ticket.

$10 day fee to bring a car into the Park later than 7:00 in the morning. I read something about how in the future they're eventually going to connect with to some new project that would then make it easier to reach without taking a car across the bridge from Atlantic Highlands. I saw several bicyclists ride in and out over the current bridge -- but the roads and bridge just south outside the Park entrance looked significantly more difficult to handle than the new path inside.

Sandy Hook is in Gateway National Recreation Area.  Note that this Gateway area has several locations, some of which are not in New Jersey or anywhere near Sandy Hook.

see also

bulletmore New Jersey Stories + Photos
bulletmore Skate Hudson Valley stories + photos

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