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Thread: Clayton Park

  1. #1
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    Clayton Park


    Clayton Park by KingBobYJr, on Flickr

    I sometimes bring my bike to work (including my biking clothes and Camelbak) in hopes of a quick ride at lunch on the pavement. Yesterday was no exception except I didn’t want pavement…I wanted dirt.

    I took a look out the window…cloudy & gray…it looked a bit chilly outside. A quick check of the weather confirmed no rain until overnight.

    Now to find a place to ride. Google maps showed a park, Clayton Park to be exact, that was only 1/2 of an hour from my cubicle. I then checked my go to website for mountain biking in NJ, mtbNJ.com. Sure enough, there was a section in the forums for Clayton Park. A few responses to my post from some helpful members on the forums and I had my destination for my evening ride.

    Fast forward a few hours and I was at the trailhead. Off I went aboard my trusty El Mar for some adventuring. Someone on the MTBNJ forums described Clayton like this ”its like a rollercoaster”. And sure enough, rollercoaster would be a great way to describe this park.

    Clayton Park is a tiny park in the grand scheme encompassing 422 acres of land with some 6 miles of trail, all of which are open to biking. The trail itself is all singletrack that gets wide at a few points and is quite compacted and firm while in other spots it was a bit loose and sandy. If you are looking for a technical or rocky trail, look elsewhere. That doesn’t mean the trail is totally without obstacles, there are plenty of roots and a few logovers to keep one busy. You can even get a bit of air off some of the roots.

    The real challenge at Clayton in my opinion, is the elevation gain. My Garmin 800 clocked in a total of 852 feet of gain over the 10.10 miles I rode there. If you like climbing, you will love Clayton. With a loss of 844 feet, there is also plenty of no pedaling higher speed fun. The best of those descents IMHO, is on the Old Forge trail. The section I’m talking about is just 0.3 of a mile long and slightly eroded. That erosion makes for a slightly sketchy descent at speed. Even so, slow old me was able to get my bike up to 25 mph coming down it. I probably had a grin on face (with my tongue sticking out to one side) stretching ear to ear coming down that.

    In a nutshell, Clayton Park is just plain fun.

    Even know the day was cool and gray, riding through the oak, beech, ash & birch trees (still no leaves but there were buds starting to show) with the occasional hawk or maybe turkey vulture flying overhead, was quite satisfying. Satisfying enough that even with the gray cloudy skies on my car ride home, I was in quite the euphoric mood. There is just something about a good workout, and pedaling around Clayton was just that, that puts me in a great mood.

    Or maybe it was the thought of Mexican food and beer, my usual after-ride rewards, that had me in that great mood.

    Ride With GPS log – Clayton Park - Upper Freehold Township, NJ

    Strava log – Bike Ride Profile | Clayton Park near Upper Freehold | Times and Records | Strava

  2. #2
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    Great write up and pic man. See ya over there some time.

    -Mike
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    Yep, Clayton is a really decent spot. It's where I would go when I first started riding in the mid 90's. I get bored with it these days after doing a lap, but my son loves it on his push bike and so does my wife. Now that my son started riding, actually pedaling on two wheels, it'll be a perfect spot for him.

    Not sure if you've been back out yet, but next time head out through the farm field next to the parking lot, and follow trail around to where it re-enters the woods. Give 'er some steam and let it all hang out. That short bit is the best descent in my opinion.
    Stay aware of those who hide in plain sight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jochribs View Post
    Yep, Clayton is a really decent spot. It's where I would go when I first started riding in the mid 90's. I get bored with it these days after doing a lap, but my son loves it on his push bike and so does my wife. Now that my son started riding, actually pedaling on two wheels, it'll be a perfect spot for him.

    Not sure if you've been back out yet, but next time head out through the farm field next to the parking lot, and follow trail around to where it re-enters the woods. Give 'er some steam and let it all hang out. That short bit is the best descent in my opinion.
    Looking at his Strava file, It looks like he hit everything. That down hill on the left is a blast. It's a fun climb too. (if climbing is at all fun lol) There is a tree down on that trail right now with a crappy reroute that really kills the flow, I hope they take it out soon...
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    Oh, whoops. I didn't look at the Strava.

    Yeah, I know what you're saying with that tree. It just forces you to kinda tight-turn it there. And I'm with ya on climbing it...That's why we ride XC ( the amount of trees that went down in that ravine there is mind boggling. And in all directions too.)

    Back in about 95 when my friend and I started riding there, we would absolutely BOMB that trail that kingbobjr is talking about. Basket style pedals, baggy cargo shorts, no helmets. The cycling hoi polloi would gasp at the sight of us. I swore then that I would never never never ever wear 'those stupid shoes', spandex, or shave my legs....then I moved to Philly shortly after, started working at Bike Line and racing, and well, ate every one of my words!!! LOL!

    Clayton has a special spot in my heart.
    Stay aware of those who hide in plain sight.

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    I just wish that folks would stop skidding into turns. We have brakes these days that have excellent modulation, and tires that can make a lowsy turner hang on despite no skill. Yet everywhere I ride, I see skid rips at turns where they are just not even remotely necessary...

    Clayton is one of those trails where I see them and it irritates me. Like on the "S" decent/ascent coming from the lot towards the bridge or visa versa. That area is just getting shredded. Since I only ride there once every month/couple of months, I see changes pretty much every time I'm there. The sandy areas seem to be getting worse as well.
    Stay aware of those who hide in plain sight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jochribs View Post
    I just wish that folks would stop skidding into turns. We have brakes these days that have excellent modulation, and tires that can make a lowsy turner hang on despite no skill. Yet everywhere I ride, I see skid rips at turns where they are just not even remotely necessary...

    Clayton is one of those trails where I see them and it irritates me. Like on the "S" decent/ascent coming from the lot towards the bridge or visa versa. That area is just getting shredded. Since I only ride there once every month/couple of months, I see changes pretty much every time I'm there. The sandy areas seem to be getting worse as well.
    I hear ya. Honestly though, Monmouth county hasn't lifted a finger to battle erosion there EVER either which doesn't help. I live 10 minutes away and would help with TM if they ever had one... As far as I know it's been AT LEAST 5 years since they held one there. I even took the county's TM class a couple of years ago. I dig at Mercer and Baldpate on TM days, I'd help out there too. The fall line trail routing doesn't work even with water bars installed. Not controlling the water properly (or not at all) is the worse offense there IMO but people should know better too.
    Look at Hartshorne Woods... the same crap but at least they started working on it recently.
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    Dude, I know! I was asking some of the guys there (rangers/maintence guys riding a Kubota) if there was any way I could help...even do some re-routes and stuff (this was just after Sandy when they had the lower area closed, but would let you go down there anyway) and they said they were so overwhelmed, it was gonna be a while before they got there to do anything significant. They said it was pretty much 4 or 5 guys that had responsibility for Clayton and a bunch of other areas ( it was an astounding number to me, but I can't remember what it was, so I don't want to say something incorrect).

    I would love to give Clayton a helping hand, even make some changes....Like the small decent that links the upper loop to the lower one. That is just not working.

    I have been meaning to get out to BP to help out too. I have only been there for a short spell once, but I figure it will help me learn the layout.
    Stay aware of those who hide in plain sight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jochribs View Post
    Dude, I know! I was asking some of the guys there (rangers/maintence guys riding a Kubota) if there was any way I could help...even do some re-routes and stuff (this was just after Sandy when they had the lower area closed, but would let you go down there anyway) and they said they were so overwhelmed, it was gonna be a while before they got there to do anything significant. They said it was pretty much 4 or 5 guys that had responsibility for Clayton and a bunch of other areas ( it was an astounding number to me, but I can't remember what it was, so I don't want to say something incorrect).

    I would love to give Clayton a helping hand, even make some changes....Like the small decent that links the upper loop to the lower one. That is just not working.

    I have been meaning to get out to BP to help out too. I have only been there for a short spell once, but I figure it will help me learn the layout.
    Hit me up some time if you want a tour of BP. I know it well. It's got some great climbs and of course descents :-) The place has mega potential.
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