Millstone Valley Scenic Byway Itinerary for a One day Road Trip

This picturesque route winds through the rolling hills of central New Jersey, offering stunning countryside views. Along the way, you’ll pass by historical sites, quaint towns, and lush forests. The byway is perfect for a leisurely drive, with plenty of opportunities to stop and explore. You can take a break at one of the many parks, visit a local winery, or walk along the banks of the Millstone River.

Start: Kingston Mill Historic District

Park in the area adjacent to the bridge tender’s house or at the John Flemer Preserve, and head off to explore. Visit Lock 8, the lock tender’s house, the toll house, a telegraph station, the turn basin, and the remains of the by-pass channel. See the 1880 Mill and the quadruple stone-arch bridge, which, until 1969, was Route 27, formerly the King’s Highway. Also note Lake Carnegie, completed in 1905.

Kingston Mill Historic District
Kingston Mill Historic District

Stop 1: Rocky Hill

Directions from previous place:   By bicycle, ride 1.9 miles north along the D&R Canal towpath. By car, simply head south on Lincoln Hwy/Route 27 for 0.4 miles, and turn right onto River Road. Drive 1.9 miles along River Road to Rocky Hill.

  • Distance from Previous Site:          2.3 miles / 3.7 km
  • Travel Time from Previous Site:     7 minutes
  • Suggested Time at This Site:          1 hour

Arrive at your second destination, Rocky Hill, where you’ll see the remaining stone foundation of the former bridge tender’s house. Continue through the village, heading north on the towpath. The brick building across the canal housed the famous Atlantic Terracotta Company, which made ornamental and architectural elements out of local clay to decorate well-known structures, including the Woolworth Building in New York City.

Atlantic Terracotta Company

Stop 2: Griggstown Lock

Directions from Rocky Hill: By bicycle, head north along the D&R Canal towpath for 2.3 miles. By car, head north of Rocky Hill along the byway route on US-206. After 0.9 miles, make a slight right on Bridgepoint Road followed by a right onto Millstone River Road/River Road. Follow River Road 2.5 miles north and turn right onto the Griggstown Causeway. Park in Griggstown and walk 0.8 miles south along the D&R Canal towpath to the lock. For parking closer to the lock, turn right onto Canal Road from Griggstown Causeway and head south for 0.25 miles. A limited parking area will be in the right.

  • Distance from Previous Site:          4.2 miles / 6.7 km
  • Travel Time from Previous Site:     9 minutes
  • Suggested Time at This Site:        30 minutes

About 4.2 miles north of Kingston, stop to examine the Griggstown lock and lock tender’s house. Read the interpretive signs and chat with local fishermen. Although the canal here is no longer used to transport coal or manufactured and farm goods as it once did, it still functions as a water source.

Take a small trail through the flood plain of the Millstone River to traverse a wonderful meadow, which in autumn is full of wetland flowers.

Stop 3: Griggstown

Directions from Griggstown Lock:     By bicycle, head north along the Towpath for 0.8 miles to Griggstown. By car, you will already be parked at the Griggstown Causeway to visit the lock. If you’re at the limited parking area off Canal Road, turn left onto Canal Road from the parking area and drive 0.25 miles north back to the Griggstown Causeway.

  • Distance from Previous Site:           0.25 miles / 0.4 km
  • Travel Time from Previous Site:     2 minutes
  • Suggested Time at This Site:          3 hours

Griggstown, just 5 miles from Kingston, is the most complete and unchanged of the byway villages. Learn something about the town’s history by watching a history video at the visitor center, which is located in the bridge tender’s house. In the past, the bridge tender’s station also served as a telegraph station and later as a library—the mule tender’s barracks, now an exhibition space, once housed canal workers. In the cemetery, you’ll see the graves of workers who died digging the canal.

Griggstown Historic District

Explore the village and learn about many of Griggstown’s early residents who fought in the Revolutionary War, including John Honeyman, who was a spy for Washington before the Battle of Trenton.

After exploring the village and learning its history, take a break from biking or driving, and rent a canoe to enjoy a leisurely float on the canal.

Stop 4: Spillway

Directions from Griggstown: By bicycle, head north on the D&R Canal towpath for one mile. Leave your car parked in Griggstown and walk one mile north along the towpath.

  • Distance from Previous Site:           1 miles / 1.6 km
  • Travel Time from Previous Site:     5 minutes
  • Suggested Time at This Site:        10 minutes

This spillway, located 6 miles from Kingston, was once used to regulate the canal’s water level. Excess water was and still is drained from the canal into the wetlands of the Millstone River from here. Take time to admire the handsome stonework on the spillway, but be careful- it is slippery when wet!

Stop 5: Blackwells Mills

Directions from Spillway: By bicycle, head north along the D&R Canal towpath for 2.5 miles. By car, follow Canal Road north from Griggstown for 3.7 miles.

  • Distance from Previous Site:          3.7 miles / 5.9 km
  • Travel Time from Previous Site:     9 minutes
  • Suggested Time at This Site:        30 minutes
Blackwells Mills, New Jersey
Blackwells Mills, New Jersey; image zia Zeete/wikipedia

Blackwell’s Mills is your next stop, named for the series of mills that once stood at this location. Visit the bridge tender’s house and station and the lovely garden. The house, one of four stone-bridge tenders’ houses in the D&R Park, is open for special events on weekends, and the garden is open daily.

Stop 6: East Millstone

Directions from Blackwells Mills: By bicycle, head north on the D&R Canal towpath for 2.1 miles. By car, head north on Canal Road for 1.9 miles. Turn left on Market Street and drive 0.3 miles to Amwell Road.

  • Distance from Previous Site:          2.2 miles / 3.5 km
  • Travel Time from Previous Site:     5 minutes
  • Suggested Time at This Site:          1 hour

Upon entering the town of East Millstone, visit the bridge tender’s house, station, outhouse, and the Franklin Inn, which housed business travelers while the canal was in operation. The Franklin Inn is now a used bookstore open on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons.

Notice the many churches in this village– they were built during the Canal years. The grassy field near the canal was the site of Fleishman’s Distillery and later became a rubber recycling factory; several storage sheds remain on Market Street.

End: Millstone Historic District

Directions from East Millstone:     By bicycle or car, cross the D&R Canal by heading west on Amwell Road for 0.3 miles.

  • Distance from Previous Site:           0.3 miles / 0.5 km
  • Travel Time from Previous Site:      1 minute

Cross the river bridge and explore the small borough of Millstone. Less than one square mile, this village was important during the Revolution and was later developed into a prosperous commercial center during the Canal period. Notice the four grain storages, lumber yard, harness shop, and dry goods center. Also, visit the Old Forge on No. River Street, where repairs for canal barges were once made. Peek at the houses on Anne St., built during this period.

Millstone Historic District
Millstone Historic District; image zia Zeete/wikipedia

To finish off your byway exploration, re-cross the river bridge. Go right on Market Street and grab a sandwich and a drink. Bear right to Canal Road. Enjoy this narrow country road, a favorite of cycling clubs, which parallels the canal, passing many farm fields whose produce was transported to market by canal barges. Cross Rt 518, continue on Rt 603, past the vital quarry during the canal period, to Rt 27 in Kingston. Finally, go right to Kingston, where your adventure first began.


  • Total Distance Traveled:     13.95 miles / 22.3 km
  • Total Travel Time:                 38 minutes
  • Total Stopping Time:              6 hours 10 minutes

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