This hike from Stockton, NJ to Bulls Island State Park takes you on a loop through NJ and PA along the Delaware River Trail, with great river views. Although it's a little long, it's very flat and a great hike for beginners.
The hike starts in scenic Stockton, NJ, where there are a few options to grab some food before or after the hike. From Stockton the hike goes up the Delaware River Trail to Bulls Island State Park, then across the river on the walking bridge, and then back down on the PA side.
The Delaware River Trail used to be train tracks. Trains put the old canal barges out of business, then went out of business themselves.
The Delaware River Trail offers tons of wildlife viewing, mainly birds. In addition to many types of duck, keep your eyes open for red-tailed hawks, kingfishers, cliff swallows, and in the winter, bald eagles.
Bull’s Island State Recreation is a 79 acre portion of the larger Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park. There’s an office open during business hours that has a nice historic display on the building of the canal. Bull’s Island also offers picnic grounds, fishing, and a boat launch.
People used to be able to camp on the island, but they shut it down after a branch fell and killed a camper a few years ago. It sounds a bit extreme, but the problem is that the Delaware River often floods in the winter, depositing lots of debris and weakening branches. Having to inspect every tree every year is just too much work given their funding. So the campground will be restored to native habitat.
If you do this hike in the warmer months, I recommend taking bug spray. There can be gnats and mosquitos.
You can also do this hike on a bike. All of the trails are open to bikes, although you have to carry your bike up a section of stairs at one point.
Turn By Turn Directions
I’d recommend checking out the Prallsville Mills website to see if there are any tours or events happening when you pass through. The website also has a ton of interesting information on the history of the mill.
The Bulls Island walking bridge was originally built in 1856 and was a covered bridge. The Delaware River often floods in winter and spring, and parts of the bridge were destroyed in 1903. In 1947 the bridge was rebuilt as the pedestrian bridge you see now. The stone pillars supporting the bridge still date back to 1855.
This part of the hike goes down through Delaware Canal State Park. The Delaware Canal runs from Easton down to Bristol (across from Trenton), and was first opened in 1832. The locks you see allowed the canal to handle changes in elevation.
Bulls Island State Park - Delaware River Trail Hike Video
A quick note. These directions are meant as a guide for the hike, and not a definitive source. Conditions change, and the information here can be different based on time of day, weather, season, etc. There can be small side trails that you might see but I missed. I have made every effort to include all the information you need to complete the hike successfully. I recommend using this guide in conjunction with a map, GPX file, common sense, and call to the ranger station or park office. If you do the hike and notice something has changed, please contact me and I will update the guide.