This fall, Delran is poised to become one of the newest beneficiaries of federal grants Burlington County will use to develop an additional 20 miles of foot trails and bicycle paths.
County commissioners voted last month to advance the construction of two new trail projects, one of which will connect Delran’s Amico Island Park to Pennington Park in Delanco. The 4-mile trail for pedestrians and bicyclists alike will also be handicap-accessible.
Linking the two parks will further allow the county to expand its established network of interconnecting trails.
“Pennington and Amico Island are already two of most popular destinations in our parks system and this trail will only enhance them,” said County Commissioner Linda Hynes, liaison to the Department of Resource Conservation and Parks. “Families will be able to walk or bike the trail and enjoy the natural beauty and passive recreation available at both sites.”
The two parks’ unifying trail will wind through the Rancocas Greenway, a preserved territory Burlington County maintains, and its roughly 1,200 acres of parks and open-space land along Rancocas Creek. Starting from the Amico Island Park trailhead, the path will continue east through nearby Riverside, across the Delanco-Riverside Bridge and beneath the River Line light rail bridge, until it reaches the Pennington Park point of ingress and egress.
During their August meeting, county commissioners approved the $3.7 million contract for the construction of the proposed trail linking Amico Island Park and Pennington Park. Richard E. Pierson Construction Co. won the project’s contract, for which it was the lowest responsible bidder. The Pilesgrove Township-based construction company placed a bid that came in slightly lower than the planning engineer’s estimate.
Amico Island Park’s 55 acres bring more than picnic areas, fishing access and nature trails to Delran. The peninsular park features a vast array of wildlife and terrain, from forests and freshwater ponds to wetland and shoreline ecosystems.
Throughout the year, park visitors can see more than 150 species of birds, 14 species of reptiles and amphibians, 29 species of butterflies and seven species of mammals. Those who take to the trails can see an even broader assortment of animals, like white-tailed deer, cottontail rabbits, hawks, eagles and herons.
In addition to the hiking and biking already available to park-goers, linking to Delanco will provide access to Pennington Park’s 150 acres of Rancocas Creek vistas, playgrounds, picnic areas and dog runs.
Both county parks will act as trailheads for the proposed plan, with their projected linking path also passing by Whomsley Field, the popular municipal park and recreation facility in neighboring Riverside.
The county also plans to make improvements at both the Delran and Pennington parks, including bike racks, bicycle repair stations, kiosks, and additional parking and picnic tables.
The proposed path will also be part of the larger Rancocas Greenway Trail, which Burlington County expects to run through 30 miles and 13 communities on either side of the Rancocas Creek. It will extend to the border of Ocean County, and ultimately connect with Ocean County’s own network of trails.
“Our vision is for a hiker or cyclist to be able to take our trails from one end of the county to the other and onto Ocean County,” Hynes said. “Conceivably, you will be able to go from the Delaware all the way to the Atlantic.”
Burlington County anticipates the Amico Island-Pennington Trail will add to its already existing 50-plus miles of regional and park trails, as well as more than 1,000 acres of developed parkland.
The trail will also be part of the Circuit Trails, a planned network comprising more than 800 miles of trails running throughout the New Jersey counties of Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Mercer, as well as four Pennsylvania counties and Philadelphia.
Construction of the Amico Island-Pennington Trail could begin in early fall.
Visit co.burlington.nj.us/926/Amico-Island-Park to learn more about Delran’s Amico Island Park.