New Jersey’s Duke Island Park Is a Hidden Gem

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Girl climbing on play ground in Duke Island Park

For many people who love the outdoors, Duke Island Park is an easy getaway from bustling New York City. It’s no exaggeration to say this jewel of a park in suburban New Jersey is a hidden gem. There are tons of opportunities for outdoor activities, whether you have an extremely active lifestyle or not. In fact, it’s a wonderful place to sit lazily and watch the river flow.

Are you ready to find out more about this park that draws adults and children alike? Let’s go!

Where Is Duke Island Park?

This suburban park, which covers about 340 acres, is in Bridgewater Township in Somerset County, New Jersey. It sits in the north-central part of the Garden State, about a 50-mile drive west from Manhattan. The park rests along the Raritan River Greenway, which runs past a natural river and a canal initially built to power industries.

How to Get to Duke Island Park

Interstate 78 runs east and west to north of Duke Island Park, and Interstate 287 passes nearby to the west. As you approach Bridgewater Township, depending on your direction of travel, take either Route 22, 202, or 287 to the park.

Turn onto Milltown Road and follow it to the end, then take a left on Old York Road. Drive until you see Duke Island Park on your left.

Is Duke Island Park an Island?

While you may think of an island as offshore and surrounded by open waters, Duke Island definitely fits the definition.

This part of New Jersey is indeed mostly landlocked, but this park has water on all sides. The Raritan River is its southern boundary, and the Raritan Water Power Canal lies on the other three sides.

Traveler’s Tip: Take some time to tiptoe through the tulips while you Pick Your Own Tulips At This Farm in New Jersey.

Boy playing in Duke Island Park playground in New Jersey

Is Duke Island Park Family-Friendly?

Many of the people who visit the park are families with children, and they particularly rave about the big modern playground. It’s not unusual to see big crowds of kids celebrating a friend’s birthday with a party.

Besides the playground, there are many other family-friendly activities. They include swimming, fishing, paddle boats, and miniature golf.

You can do some ice skating there in the winter, and there are fields for soccer, baseball, and softball.

Are There Trails at Duke Island Park?

Kids love the walking trails at Duke Island Park, especially the more rustic areas along the water.

Duke Island Park’s paved paths may be the most popular attraction. The main one, easily visible from the parking lots, is a 2.2-mile loop, but it has numerous offshoot paths.

Most of them are paved and open to walkers, runners, and cyclists of all skill levels. In fact, because they’re mostly flat, they provide lovely outdoor exercise opportunities even for those who are mobility-challenged.

Is Fishing Permitted in the Raritan River?

As we mentioned earlier, some trails run right along the shore of the river and canal. These are places where you’re likely to find anglers casting for several varieties of fish, including bass, trout, and pike. It’s totally legal as long as you have a valid fishing license. In fact, the state keeps these waters stocked with fish to make the sport even more exciting.

Can I Bring My Dog to Duke Island Park?

The park, including the popular trails, is open to dogs, too. Just be sure to keep them on a leash, and please clean up after them.

Traveler’s Tip: While in New Jersey take some time to Hike the Actual Stairway to Heaven.

Dad and child playing in Duke Island Park in New Jersey

What Visitors Are Saying

Checking out reviews on Google is always an excellent way to get a sense of what people think about a place. It’s obvious that most visitors to Duke Island Park are impressed enough to give an overall rating of nearly five stars.

Many of the park’s fans give a callout to the trails and other places to enjoy the scenic grounds. They also love the abundance of pavilions, picnic tables, and benches, where they simply relax or have a leisurely lunch.

“This is a great park with wide paved paths for walking, biking, and jogging,” a reviewer named Mary Jane said. “Many are along the Raritan River and through tree-covered woodsy areas to slow cold breezes and keep the hot sun from burning through.”

One reviewer, KGQ NYC, knocks off a star for the portable bathrooms but otherwise gives a glowing review. The park has “just about everything you could want in a suburban park,” KGQ says, including no shortage of parking spaces.

Another repeat visitor, Jasmine, always enjoys her non-profit group’s annual outing. “Our picnic here is always a huge highlight of my summer,” she writes. The “wide open spaces, plenty of tables, and a hiking trail” helped to earn Jasmine’s full five stars.

Is a Visit to Duke Island Park in New Jersey Worth It?

You could take these fans’ word for it or find out for yourself. But we feel confident that you’ll agree that Duke Island Park is a worthy place to spend your valuable leisure time.

A lot of people will toss around the term “hidden gem” when talking about a place like this. Sometimes, recommended places don’t measure up to such a lofty description. In this case, though, we would say it’s spot-on.

Would you like to visit Duke Island Park in New Jersey?

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