Columbia Trail East

Columbia Trail East (7/31/2010)

This is the northeastern section of hike #5 ("Columbia Trail") from the book 24 Great Rail-Trails of New Jersey. The Columbia trail is a 16.2-mile trail following an abandoned railroad bed between High Bridge and Flanders, New Jersey. We did a section at the other end (the southwestern part) on July 25 of last year when we formed a loop with a trail through the Ken Lockwood Gorge. Today we started at a parking lot for Schooley's Mountain (on Fairview Avenue) but instead of heading north into that park, we headed south via the Gillette Trail making a left on the Columbia trail which we took NE all the way to its end. The path can be seen at the bottom half of this map. After returning to the car, we visited the ruins of the Union Church on Fairview, alongside the Washington Township Historical Museum.

There is a local legend associated with a one-mile stretch of the section we hiked today. Legend has it a railroad man lost his arm in a railroad accident many years ago. Though his arm was replaced by a hook, he would return to the scene of the accident for years (between North Four Bridges Road and Naughright Road), searching for his arm in the darkness of night, with a lantern. In the decades following his death, residents continued seeing a light orb moving along the same stretch of tracks.

Total distance hiked was 5.7 miles in less than 3 hours.

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An inviting trail head

The Gillette trail ...

... cut through a wildflower field

Swallowtail at work

Intersection with Columbia trail

South branch of the Raritan River

Taking photos


Raritan River upstream

View downstream

Exposed roots

Pile of old railroad ties

Lamb's Ears

Cattle gate

Heading NE

Bridge over Stony Brook

Side view

[Photo by Laura]

Stony Brook flows under

Stony Brook parallels trail



Horse stables ...

... on both sides of trail


Wildflowers abound

Symbol of the Columbia Trail at Naughright Road

Bridge over Raritan

The Bicycling Nun!

Catfish in river

A river with Elizabeth Lane bridge


Another farm

Swamp east of North Four Bridges Road


Turtles in swamp

The last bridge (I think)

River view

House on Bartley Road

The NE terminus of the Columbia Trail

Raritan River



Open field off trail

Old abandoned farm implement

Queen Anne's Lace trailside

A damsel fly

Another damsel fly

Gorgeous wildflower


Heading back

Raritan River

Horse riding

Black swallowtail

Back on Gillette trail

Busy bee

[Photo by Laura]

Tiny beetle

Washington Township Historical Museum

Union Church ruins

It's being restored

Excavated bottles

Cemetery in church yard

Fungus on gravestone

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