KINGSTON, N.J. (PIX11) — It’s one of New Jersey’s most visited State Larks, and yet, does it somehow not get the recognition it deserves? 

With so much beauty, so much history, and with so many places to visit, Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park is one of New Jersey’s gems.

“I do think it is one of our top three most-visited State Parks, but doesn’t often get the sort of name cache of a Liberty State Park for example,” said NJ Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn LaTourette, a frequent visitor of the park. 

It begins in New Brunswick, goes down to the Trenton area, and up again past Lambertville.

“70 miles stretching between the central and the south parts of our state, folks all around it have a love for it,” said LaTourette. “Pick an entry point, and you get to have a different journey.”

This time of year, autumn splendor brings the trail to life, but the canal was no act of nature; it was built to connect New York and Philadelphia.

“There’s a lot of people when we explain to them this was man-made or dug, they’re surprised,” said parks historian Vicki Chirco.

Competing with the construction of a railroad, and later joining forces with it, the completion of the canal in 1834 was a pivotal moment in New Jersey’s history.

“Before the D & R Canal was built, you really only had two options: you could go overland by horse and by stage and so forth, and wagon, or you would be taking ships around the southern point of New Jersey.”

Its past connects with its present; in the middle area of the park are beautiful sights. including old mills and wood bridges in historic Kingston, Rocky Hill, and Griggstown. You can catch a heron or two or take your best snapshot of fall foliage. If you haven’t already, get out and set foot on the trail and discover where it will take you.

“That’s part of what I love about it,” said LaTourette. “You can choose your own adventure.”