These trails aren’t wet, or muddy, but the leaves are just damp enough to wreak havoc on the rocky sections. At first glance you’d think we were riding a typical North Jersey mountain bike trail, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Ride here long enough, and you’ll start to see remnants of what this place once was. Here’s a tram track, and here’s—an otter slide.
Welcome to Jungle Habitat, the 800 acre site of a safari theme park last operational in the mid 1970’s. A mountain bike trail, in an abandoned safari theme park.
The park was originally successful, containing a drive through safari with everything from lions to elephants. After a few years, the novelty wore off, and the township rejected a plan to expand the already disruptive park. Warner Brothers decided it was best to just shut it down and find new homes for all the animals. There it sat for years. Eventually, they sold the land to the state of New Jersey.
Even before JORBA orchestrated their massive cleanup of the park, mother nature had already begun reclaiming what was rightfully hers. Among the overgrowth, there are still random patches of pavement, and lots of perimeter fences with big flat sections near the top.
If you’ve ridden other trails in North Jersey you’ll see the usual. You know—insane uphill rock gardens that only the locals can clean. Damp leaves aside, these are tough trails.
Last time I rode with these guys we found a huge skinny line across a fallen tree. So, it wouldn’t be a Jersey trip without hucking this slippery boulder. If you think that looked sloppy, believe me when I say it felt worse. As we continued our ride I couldn’t help but feel like the jungle was trying to eat us alive.
It’s no surprise that this site is host to countless urban legends. While there were well documented cases of animals attacks and even escapes, there’s little evidence to prove the existence of a baboon colony in the nearby foothills. Still, the place is full of wild animals, just bears and a coyotes now instead of lions and flamingos.
Video doesn’t even come close to revealing the true topography of Jungle Habitat. When the jungle gets hungry, it eats. As it turns out, its favorite food is derailleurs.
With the help of some Jersey trailside engineering, we were back on track. The jungle gave us fair warning, but we kept pushing our luck.
Once you finish a loop through these trails, you’ve officially survived the Jungle. While little remains of this once bustling theme park, there are still enough reminders to make it one heck of a unique ride. Whether you’re interested in the history, up for a challenge, or just a rock garden aficionado, Jungle Habitat is well worth the trip. Thanks for riding with me today and I’ll see you next time.