Trail of the Month: November 2004
Junction & Breakwater Trail, Delaware
Tourists headed to Delaware's Atlantic shores are in for a treat: A great wooded rail-trail just minutes from sandy beaches. The Junction and Breakwater Trail is bordered by a mix of fertile landscapes ranging from thick canopies of gigantic oak trees and enticing pines to rolling fields of farmland. During the fall season the intense golden, crimson and auburn leaves line the winding gravel path and impress even the most experienced of leaf peepers. Those who visit the trail during the cool autumn days are likely to experience perfect weather conditions for a quick run or bicycle ride, with average November temperatures ranging from the high 40s to the mid 50s.
The Junction and Breakwater Trail is Delaware's third and longest rail-trail in the state, providing users with a chance to walk, bicycle, jog or just enjoy the outdoors. Measuring in at 3.9 miles, it follows the former Penn Central Rail Line that once transported passengers to the many Methodist resort camps along the Atlantic coast. The trail is located in the southwest portion of the Cape Henlopen State Park and tucked snuggly between the heavily visited areas of Lewes and Rehoboth.
Start your journey at the northwest Wolf House trailhead. It is adjoined by the Wolf Neck parking lot where trail users can find plenty of parking, picnic tables, bicycle racks, restrooms and an information board. This area is diverted from the original railroad line, but if you travel its path east for approximately a quarter-mile you will meet the main thoroughfare at a three-way stop. Hang a left on the gravel trail and trek the peaceful corridor to Wolf Glade, the northern-most tip of the trail, and one of two highlighted scenic overlooks along the Junction and Breakwater. Here you will find a distinctive timber bridge where you can enjoy exquisite views of Delaware's marshland encircled by vibrant and sturdy foliage. Traveling in the opposite direction from Wolf Glade, wind two miles through tunnels of trees to the second scenic overlook located at Holland Glade. Here you'll find an additional timber bridge with amazing views demonstrating Delaware's variety of landscaping from evenly dispersed trees to irrigation fields.
The trail continues south past Holland Glade for approximately 1.4 miles, branching off of the main path at Holland Glade Road and again toward the southern-most tip of the Cape Henlopen State Park. Consider ending your visit at the southern trailhead as it connects trail users to a variety of conveniences from outlet shopping malls to restaurants.
Those who want to continue exploring Delaware's great outdoors should head further north into Cape Henlopen State Park. Its 5,193 acres contain views of the bay and ocean as well as interactive wildlife areas. The Seaside Nature Center offers environmental education programs and marine aquarium displays, great for kids interested in face-to-face ocean life encounters. The park is also home to a variety of wildlife from small birds to mammals. During the summer the park protects nesting areas of piping plover—a threatened shorebird—along the coastline.
Delaware's Department of Parks and Recreation (DNREC) continues to work hard to improve the new Junction and Breakwater Trail. It is currently proposed for expansion to its full length of approximately six miles from Lewes to Rehoboth. In addition to the expansion, they also plan to add new offices and a visitor's center to the Wolf House trailhead. With DNREC's dedication to help this trail thrive, the Junction and Breakwater has a bright future ahead.