5 Places To Ride A Bike In Verona

By on June 24, 2018

The paved roads on the Hilltop are a great place for traffic-free bike riding.

It’s bike-riding weather. Time for those Verona people who are new to a bike to get steady on two wheels and those who are already comfortable on a bike to go out exploring. The only question is where.

First, it helps to know where you can’t ride a bike in town. You can’t ride a bike  on the paved pathways in Verona Park. Essex County, which controls the park, says so. (You can’t ride a bike in any County park, which is a real shame because some of them would be absolutely beautiful for biking and a double shame because so many other activities are allowed, from archery to baseball, basketball, bocce, cricket and to things like golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis and more.)

You can’t ride a bike on the track behind H.B. Whitehorne. Track surfaces are made of multi-layer composites that are easily damaged by bike tires and are very expensive to repair and replace. You can’t ride a bike in the woods controlled by Essex County, like the Mills Reservation or the County’s part of the Hilltop.

But there are places where you can ride a bike in Verona, and we’ve grouped them into five categories. Take time to enjoy them this summer, with your bike helmet on, of course:

  1. SCHOOL PARKING LOTS: In the summer and during the school year after school and on weekends, Verona’s school parking lots can be a great place for a beginning bike rider. For one thing, they are in every neighborhood in town, so you won’t have to far to go to use them. For another, they are flat with (mostly) flat access.
  2. DEAD-ENDS & SIDE STREETS: Yes we have a lot of big streets and some of them are fairly steep. That can make for a challenging ride for older riders, but they are not places to get a start on two wheels. So focus instead on dead-end streets and side streets. They are quieter and flatter, but you still need to watch for traffic. In the Laning quarter of town, that’s places like Montclair Avenue, Highland Terrace, Wilton Terrace and Floyd Terrace, Wildwood Terrace and Rose Terrace. By F.N. Brown, there’s Ann Street, Cypress Avenue and Willow Terrace, as well as Sunnyside Place and Parkhurst Place. Choices are slimmer in the Forest section, but there’s Halstead Street and the “U” from Whitney Terrace to Balston Drive. In the Brookdale area, there’s Douglas Place, Stonewood Parkway and Robert Court. If you don’t live on or near one of these, make some friends who do.
  3. THE HILLTOP: While you can’t legally ride in the woods of the Hilltop Reservation, you can ride on the paved roads that are leftover from when the area was a sprawling tuberculosis sanatorium. Park in lot by the green water tank that’s at the top of White Rock Road before the Highlands at Hilltop apartments and then walk your bike around to the road toward that leads from the back of the complex to the big blue water tower. Ride past the water tower and clockwise around the main meadow. There’s a bit of an uphill climb in places, so this loop can be a good test for steadier young riders (and out-of-shape adults). If you miss the loop around the water tower, you’ll wind up on a road with a lot of broken pavement that descends down to the new walking paths opposite the new Cedar Grove Community Center. You’ll just have to turn the bike around and ride back up.
  4. LONG SIDEWALKS: There are pros and cons to sidewalk riding. On the one hand, you’re not competing for street space with cars and trucks. On the other, you have crosswalks to cross and you have to be alert for people pulling in and out of driveways. But Fairview Avenue has about a mile of sidewalk on the east side between Bloomfield Avenue and the Verona Pool, and Grove Avenue is about 1.5 miles from Bloomfield Avenue until the sidewalk ends at Ozone Avenue. Both are flat, as is Forest Avenue.
  5. THE RAILROAD TRAIL: Hands down, the best place for biking in Verona. Now known as the West Essex Trail, the former Erie-Lackawanna rail line is 3 miles long from its start behind the tennis courts at Verona High School to its end in Little Falls. It is heavily shaded by trees, which makes it a good place to ride even in the high heat of summer. But you will need to watch the street crossings at Durrell Street and Keeney Street, the latter because there could be construction equipment coming in and out of the old Overbrook hospital grounds. After that, there’s a long off-road section that uses the old railroad bridge to keep you above Pompton Avenue and the mini-waterfall on the Peckman River. If you don’t turn around at Bowden Road in Cedar Grove, there’s another long off-road stretch to Francisco Avenue in Little Falls, which we don’t recommend crossing because of the poor traffic sight lines. The West Essex Trail is mostly flat, but if you want a challenge there are some side trails worth exploring. There are even short loops for younger riders marked with yellow tape. On Google Maps, the West Essex Trail shows up as a green dotted line.

Disappear into the shade on the West Essex Trail, which was once the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad line.

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One Comment

  1. geordie

    June 26, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    thanks for the bike riding ideas, perfect timing for kid’s activity for the summer

    verona has some wonderful and safe places to pedal quietly, love those roadways in the hilltop and the rail trail!

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