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Atlantic City

Two-Wheeled March to the Sea

There are many cycling routes from Philly to the shore and vice versa. Below are a few that myself and friends have done a number of times, both ways, that have worked well. There are more direct routes, but these have been chosen for quieter roads and in some cases to throw in some more miles. These can of course be combined and altered, but they present some interesting ideas about marginally longer but much more scenic routes than some of the standard straight shots.

Ocean City Beach

General Notes

A few general points about these routes:

  • For the most part, you can pick and choose among the bridges across the Delaware inside Philadelphia and then fairly easily get to any of the routes. Many of my routes tend to converge through Marlton before fanning out again, applying the standard Ben Franklin or Tacony-Palmyra bridge routes to & from Greentree.
  • For the most part these are on fairly quiet roads, but generally aren't so quiet that you would be entirely on your own if you had a real problem.
  • In places there are quieter options but a slightly busier road has been chosen for navigational expediency. Many of the NJ state routes are very rideable and easy to find and follow, more so than "Blueberry Road 3 of 7"...

Cross the Delaware

Both the Tacony-Palmyra and Ben Franklin Bridges have pedestrian walkways open to bicycles, and are very easy to ride across. The Tacony-Palmyra is open 24hrs a day, year round. The Ben Franklin walkway has restricted hours, opening at 6am in the morning and closing at 9pm in the summer.

If you miss the gate closing, PATCO trains run across into Center City Philadelphia 24hrs a day, fairly frequently. There is a PATCO station at 5th and Market in Camden. Bikes are permitted on their trains at all hours and they're generally punctual and very pleasant. Fees between Camden and Philly are currently $1.40.

For those very uncomfortable riding through Camden or riding with someone uncomfortable doing so---not unreasonable, the traffic and road quality can be stressful---a good option is to take the PATCO between Philly and Collingswood. The Collingswood station is just a mile or two along Cuthbert Blvd from the Cooper River park, which several of the routes below use.

Getting Back

Some of these routes end at the Atlantic City train station; the boardwalk is just a few blocks away. The train station is by the AC Convention Center, basically at Michigan & Baltic Avenues. NJ Transit trains to 30th St station in Philadelphia run more or less every hour and cost $10. There is plenty of space for bikes on the train, and they are permitted on the AC line at all hours. Check the NJ Transit website for details. If you have a large group and know when you'll be returning you should call ahead and ask them to put on extra bike rack cars.

To Atlantic City & Ocean City AC

Below are different routes between Philly and Atlantic City/Ocean City. Most frequently I ride the Drexel March to the Sea route to AC, and then the East through May's Landing route back, e.g., in this ride.

Drexel March to the Sea

A group of us have been using this route for some years now for the annual Drexel March to the Sea. Over the Ben Franklin it cuts south through Camden to begin in the very nice Cooper River Park. It then makes its way to quiet roads across the top of Wharton State Forest. These have a wide shoulder and not much traffic, perfect for riding two-abreast in a group. It then skips the direct route into AC, shown in the East through Chatsworth route below, detouring down quiet roads and looping back up through Ocean City. In the summer the last stretch into Ocean City is invariably choked with traffic, but there's a wide shoulder so cyclists can just cruise on by. The ride then ends with a parade tour through the beach towns back up to the train station. This route is highly recommended.

There is a hot dog stand in Chatsworth, the hard right at mile ~42, that caters to bicyclists and motorcyclists. Unfortunately the property owner is a huge ass so it's not an ideal place to stop, but there's little else in that whole stretch from Medford Lakes to Mullica River. After that there are intermittent stretches of stores and gas stations.

East through May's Landing

This is my most direct route. You could make a shorter one, down closer to 65 miles, but that would probably be a much less pleasant ride along one of the pikes. This route is generally very quiet except the start and finish in the cities. You should actually be somewhat careful monitoring your supplies, there are several segments through the middle where you can go an hour or more without seeing literally any stores or gas stations. Key potential stopping points are:

  • Wawa at Church Rd & Greentree, mile 15
  • Wawa at Tuckerton & Taunton, mile 22
  • Stores in Hammonton, around US54 & US30, mile 41
  • Stores in May's Landing, at US50 & US40, mile 57
  • Harbor Square mall at US40 and the Garden State Parkway, mile 67.

Other notes:

  • The stretch through Camden is the standard Greentree route and isn't amazing but it's not awful either. You could also cut up to the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge if you're coming back and up against the 9pm Ben Franklin closure.
  • The stretch along US40, the Black Horse Pike, again isn't pleasant but it's not awful either. Traffic is somewhat fast but there's a nice shoulder and the roads are good. I usually take this route back, generally against the traffic flow and therefore pretty quiet on my side of the road.
  • The stretch from May's Landing to the Black Horse is largely on a bike path. It's well paved and has trees on both sides so it feels very sheltered though US40 is basically parallel to it and close by if you have a real emergency.
  • Again, that bike path and the stretch along Weymouth, 206, and Atsion literally don't have any businesses except the points listed above. There's enough traffic that you could probably get help in an emergency, but make sure not to blow past those stops if you're low on water or food.

One nice thing about this as a return route is that you don't commit until very late to heading for either the Ben Franklin or the Tacony-Palmyra bridges. If you make it to Greentree by about quarter to 8 then you're probably good for the BF, otherwise consider heading for the Tacony.

South through Vineland

This route shows how to go from Center City to Marlton over the Ben Franklin Bridge; this is the standard route to Greentree. The section through Camden has terrible pavement for a few miles, but becomes very nice at the Federal St Overpass.

Most of the route is middling quiet. Probably about half is easy to ride two abreast, and the other half narrowing down to single file. Road surface is excellent throughout, though there is a fair amount of gravel debris along the shoulder of many stretches. Coming up through the south into Atlantic City is definitely the quieter, more pleasant approach; there are some great views from the bridges.

There is a bike shop on Rt 50 through Upper Township, and convenience stores sprinkled throughout so a possible resupply of food and water is never too far away.

A good variation here on the southeastern end goes along Rt 49 by the Peaslee Fish & Wildlife Area and then cuts up through farm and forest roads to Tuckahoe Rd, rather than going up Rt 50 into Corbin City directly to Tuckahoe Rd. Both are very rideable and the latter much more navigable, but the former is very quiet and really nice.

East through Chatsworth

This route shows how to go from Center City to Marlton over the Tacony Palmyra Bridge. That adds a few miles over taking the Ben Franklin, but skips the awful roads in Camden. You still ride through Fishtown and Port Richmond on the Philly side, but there are bike lanes and nice road surfaces from Center City to the bridge.

Note the left turn from Church Rd onto Church St at Greentree (in Marlton). In general this route has a number of very similarly named roads, e.g., Green Bank-Chatsworth Rd vs Chatsworth Rd, so some care is required on the cue sheet.

Much of this route is extremely nice. The whole stretch across the top of Wharton Forest from Medford to Chatsworth to Galloway is very quiet and rides along lakes and forest the whole way. Take note that there are long stretches here where there's not much nearby, so be prepared with water, food, and repair supplies.

Unfortunately, traffic picks up significantly as you approach Atlantic City. This direct northern approach isn't super pleasant, it's a big road with much traffic, but it is definitely safely rideable and straightforward.

To Cape May CapeMay

South through Vineland

This is a nice, mostly quiet one-way century down to Cape May. The stretch along US 47 from about mile 48--55 (outbound) is busy but has plenty of shoulder. Otherwise, the majority of the route is fairly quiet country roads. It is also essentially flat, actually trending downhill for the outbound trip. Like most NJ routes it can be fairly windy though, so check conditions if you're concerned about that sort of thing. You generally don't go particularly far without opportunities to stop and refuel.

This route also shows a nice way to head to the southeast from the Ben Franklin Bridge, via Cooper River and Kresson Rd.

To Sea Isle SeaIsle

South through Vineland

This is basically my Cape May route but cutting over early to Sea Isle. Notes:

  • You cross 55 multiple times, so don't panic when you do.
  • Miles ~48--55 along US47 aren't super scenic but there's a solid shoulder so it's super rideable, and there's a bunch of fast food, gas stations, etc..
  • After that, you could take US347 to shave ~3 miles, but traffic there is much faster than the stretch of US47 it cuts and the shoulder is grooved.
  • I don't think there's street signage on the turn from 628 to Main St, so remember that you cross 608 and then immediately turn right.
  • US9 is fairly quiet and rideable down in that part of the state, so the short stretch toward the end is totally fine.
  • The route is indeed mostly downhill.

To Toms River/Seaside Heights

East through Chatsworth

This is an awesome route---tons of flat, quiet roads with wide shoulders and good surfacing. From the fairly quiet, beautiful stretch along the top of Wharton State Forest, it heads north by Byrne State Forest through extremely quiet roads before cutting across Toms River to the ocean. The roads through Toms River are very busy, but rideable.

The main point about this ride is that you're committed to a long day in the saddle. The only return options are to: Turn around and ride back; ride to Atlantic City and catch the train; take a bus to Atlantic City and catch the train. The ride to Atlantic City is 55mi+ on the most direct route, basically heading down Rt 9.

Note that there are a few places on this route with long stretches between resupply points. Be prepared with water, food, and repair supplies.

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