Perfect for those new to bikepacking or simply looking for a way to have fun off the beaten path. This route will take us from Hackettstown to Stokes State Forest, a distance of 35 miles each way on 70% railtrail. We’ll pass through rural farm areas, state park roads, quiet railtrail, Culver Lake, and the autumn forests of Kittatinny Ridge in the wild and scenic northern corner of New Jersey. Our group camp area backs up to the cold and clear Flat Brook, and we’ll have the option to take a spin up to a scenic overlook after making camp. Spend the night around a campfire in the dark skies of Sussex County, with friends new and old as you recount past and future cycling adventures. Whether you’re new to bikepacking or a seasoned adventurer, this will be an adventure you won’t soon forget!
THE BIKE: A mid-fat or mountain bike will be a blast! A gravel-capable touring or cyclocross bike will work well, too. You can mount your gear in panniers on a rack if your bike is equipped for it, or use a variety of the touring frame, handlebar, and seatpack bags available from Blackburn, Salsa, and Topeak.
THE ROUTE: 35 miles, 1600 ft of climbing. From Hackettstown, we’ll travel through Stephens State Park’s dirt road bypass of Waterloo Rd, to hit the Sussex Branch Railtrail. This scenic, flat converted railbed will take us into Branchville NJ. The surface varies from packed cinder to loose gravel. From there we’ll make our way around the back of scenic Culver Lake on road and into Stokes State Forest and our group camp site. We’ll come back the same way. Full downloadable route here
THE PACE: Beginner friendly, we will break up into 2 groups based on everyone’s pace. Emphasis on fun and the spirit of adventure, so there’s no extra points for getting to camp early!
THE GEAR: You’ll want to equip your bike with the following: a tent with footprint and rain fly, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, cookset, camp stove, casual clothes to wear around camp, food, lights (high-lumen bike headlight will work great around camp), and fresh riding gear for the next day.
THE FUEL: We’ll have a rest stop option in Lafayette at mile 22, but bring snacks, gels, bars, as well as backpacking food to prepare at camp.