Roller skiing can be hazardous, and you should take precautions to ensure your safety. ALWAYS wear a helmet when you’re roller skiing. The best technique in the world won’t keep you upright if that one piece of road debris lodges itself like a doorstop under your wheel. You might also consider wearing knee or elbow pads. Oh yeah… wear a helmet!!
Know how to control your speed on downhills or be responsible for the consequences. Snowplowing may not be enough to slow you down. I strongly recommend that you own at least one pair of roller skis with brakes or speed reducers. But while speed reducers and brakes are great, but they’re not a panacea. Be prepared to sidestep downhill, or actually take your boards off and walk down a hill for safety. It beats road rash and broken bones any day.
Know the road that you’re roller skiing on. Be familiar with the hills, the intersections and when it’s busiest.
Wear bright clothing and a reflective vest. Don’t assume that motorists will see you, especially in early morning and at dusk. Leave the portable music player at home so you can hear traffic. If you’re skating and a car approaches behind you, move to the shoulder of the road and double pole. It may be inconvenient when you’re in the middle of hammering out intervals, but you’ll be making a deposit in your karma bank.
Unless local law enforcement informs you otherwise, I recommend that one should roll WITH traffic.
- Lake Denmark Road, Rockaway Township. I log 90% of my roller skiing hours here. When the army isn’t detonating something at Picatinny Arsenal, it’s quiet and densely wooded. From stop sign to stop sign, Lake Denmark Road is about 8 km, with almost as much terrain variety as you’ll find at agoodcross country ski area. You can add variety with side trips on to Country Side Rd, Valley Rd and the steep section of Green Pond Rd from Lake Denmark Rd down to Darlington Ct. There is definitely some steep stuff here, so control your speed. In summer 2014, the segment from the picnic area to Mount HopeRd was repaved. While smooth, the new pavement is really fast, so watch it on the downhills. The segment from the picnic area to the Superfund site is rough and almost unskiable, good only to get you to Valley Road, the subdivision and Green Pond Rd. But this is still a great place to roll. Watch for bears.
- Loantaka Park, South Street, Morristown. Approximately 8 km of paved bike path from South Street to the Green Village post office. Pavement varies from very good to frost-heaved. There can be lots of debris on the path in fall. Expect to share with runners, cyclists etc. as this is a popular spot. You can also park off Kitchell Road and Blue Mill Road.
- Sandy Hook Bike Path at Gateway National Recreation Area. Five to six miles of great pavement and scenery. I wrote a detailed post about roller skiing Sandy Hook in June 2010. Ten dollars per car admission during the summer. Don’t forget the sunblock. Worth the trip.
- Garrett Mountain, Woodland Park. There’s a two-mile loop road around this park, just off Interstate 80. It’s a one-way road with demarcated lanes on either side for cyclists, pedestrians etc. The pavement is medium fast and in decent condition. There are speed bumps to keep the many motorists honest. It’s pretty up much up and down, with one long hill where one needs to seriously control speed.
- Horseshoe Lake Recreation Area, Roxbury. Three kilometers of paved bike paths at the Roxbury Township municipal complex on Eyland Avenue. One-third of the trails are suited only for double poling or other classic techniques. The remainder is fine for skating. Pavement is in generally good condition. As with Loantaka, be prepared to share.
- Kinnelon Road and environs, Kinnelon. Park at Kinnelon High School or across the street at Silas Condict County Park. Approximately three k of Kinnelon Rd has a wide shoulder. You can make a loop by rolling north from the high school. Turn right on to Maple Lake Rd and then right again on to Kiel Rd. Follow Kiel Rd until you run into Kinnelon Rd again. South of Fayson Lakes Rd, there’s no shoulder, but the speed limit is lower. There are several side roads you could explore off Kiel Rd; beware of steep downhills. NOTE: This area has smooth, fast pavement as well as multiple driveways and intersections. Control your speed on the downhills! As of 11 September 2011, Kinnelon Rd is closed south of # 384 Kinnelon Rd with a bridge washed out. A resident suggested that when the bridge is repaired, traffic might not be benign. Go, have fun, and use discretion. In addition, I recommend staying OFF Fayson Lakes Rd.
- Old Mine Road, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. One of the oldest continuously used roads in the nation, the old Mine Road stretches from the Delaware Water Gap up to Montague, NJ. In the seventeenth century, it went all the way to Kingston, NY. Find the northern terminus at an intersection with U.S. Route 206 in Montague. There are multiple spots to park a car. Although as I noted on a story, there are several rough patches, overall I found six miles of generally good pavement. Conceivably, one could roll all the way to the Delaware Water Gap. As of 29 November 2011, I can’t vouch for the quality of the pavement south of the Dingman’s Ferry bridge.
- Bergen County bike path system. Bergen County has 15 miles of paved bike trails. The park is mostly flat with
small rolling grades. You can access this system from trail heads off Ackerman Rd in Glen Rock; at the duck pond off E. Ridgewood Ave in Ridgewood;atDunkerhook Park in Paramus; off Century Rd in Fair Lawn and elsewhere. A stream meanders through the park. If it floods, it may take several days for the mud to be cleared after the flooding recedes.
- Dorbrook Recreation Area, County Road 537, Colts Neck. Part of the Monmouth County park system. There’s a 2.4-mile paved bike path, comprised of flat and gently rolling terrain.
- SUNY Purchase, Anderson Hill Rd., Purchase NY. If you live in Bergen County or want variety, the SUNY campus is a good bet. A 5 k rolling road encircles the campus, with both gentle grades and a couple of shorter, stiffer climbs. About half the road has a good shoulder. Use caution at the two cobblestoned sections near the dormitories. When I trained here regularly, motorists generally disregarded the 25 m.p.h. speed limit.
- Westchester County bike path. From its northern terminus in Lake Mahopac, NY, it runs south to Briarcliff Manor. Generally excellent pavement, although there are 1 or 2 places with frost heaves. I’ve parked where the bike path crosses U.S. Route 202 east of the Taconic Parkway in Yorktown. From this point, out to Lake Mahopac and back is around 3 hours at an easy pace, and there is plenty more available. There are several other places to park both north and south of Route 202.