New route provides area for recreation and scenic views

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CHRISTINE HARKINSON/The Sun: “You don’t even know it’s hidden here, which is perfect because then you can pop it on your way home from work and take just a minute to remember and then with one better frame to enter your evening,” said Burlington County Commissioner Allison Eckel of the new Rancocas Greenway Trail.

Burlington County Commissioners celebrated the new Rancocas Greenway Trail with a September 1 opening ceremony.

The trail between Amico Island and Pennington Park is the first four-mile leg of a larger 30-mile trail that will someday travel the length of the Rancocas from its confluence with the Delaware River to its headwaters near Burlington-Ocean County Border.

The trail cost less than $5 million to design and build and was funded almost entirely with grants from the Federal Highway Administration’s Transportation Alternatives Program, administered by the New Jersey Department of Transportation Local Aid Office.

The county also received a $300,000 grant from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s Regional Trails Project, which is part of a larger effort to create a network of 800 miles of trails through South Jersey and the Greater Philadelphia region.

“This park right here and the trails and the connectivity that’s going to happen will be there and hopefully built for my kids when they’re raising their own kids,” said Congressman Andy Kim. “You can remember exactly what we were able to preserve here…

“It’s really great to see it all coming together.”

The Rancocas Greenway Trail offers a mix of outdoor recreation and exercise, as well as scenery along Rancocas Creek. The new trail begins at Amico Island Park, a 55-acre peninsula at the confluence of Rancocas Creek and Delaware River in Delran, and heads east through Riverside and over the Delanco-Riverside Bridge. It then passes under the River Line Light Rail Bridge and meanders through Delanco to Pennington Park, a 140-acre site overlooking Rancocas Creek, interior walking trails, playgrounds, picnic areas, dog parks and a community garden.

“Our Burlington County Parks System has created more than 1,000 acres of parkland and more than 50 miles of interconnected hiking, biking and running trails,” said County Commissioner Allison Eckel. “We’re incredibly proud of these assets and believe that outdoor spaces like historic Smithville Park, Amico Island and Pennington Park … should be accessible to all residents and visitors, including those with limited mobility.”

“This new Rancocas Greenway Trail reflects that commitment.”

The trail is 100 percent wheelchair accessible; The county added nearly a mile of new sidewalks in Delran, Riverside and Delanco and 39 accessible ramps to the existing sidewalks in the three cities. All regional trails in the county are wheelchair accessible, and almost every county park has one or more accessible trails.

The Rancocas Greenway Trail is one of several new trail projects undertaken by the county, which recently included the opening of a 5.5-mile section of the Delaware River Heritage Trail between Bordentown and Roebling in Florence Township and a new trail around Arney’s Mount celebrated at Springfield, the highest point in Burlington County at 240 feet above sea level.

“I’m thrilled to know it’s tucked away in a bag that most people, when driving by,…” Eckel said of the Rancocas trail. “You don’t even know it’s tucked away in here, which is perfect because then you can pop it on the way home from work and just take a minute to remember, and then start your evening in a better mood walk.”

For more information about the hiking trail, go to www.co.burlington.nj.us.