Top 10 Trails in Delaware

Posted 06/21/21 by Robert Annis in America's Trails

Delaware's Georgetown-Lewes Trail | Photo by TrailLink user James McGinnis

NOTE: As you head out on the trail, remember to follow the guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state and local governments. For resources on how to #SharetheTrail and #RecreateResponsibly, go to railstotrails.org/COVID-19.

Dubbed “the Small Wonder” by the state’s inhabitants, Delaware’s rail-trails certainly reflect that moniker; the longest one is only 10 miles long! But given that the entire state is roughly the same size as the city of Anchorage, Alaska, it’s also completely understandable. Luckily, what the trails lack in length, they make up for in history, beauty and fun.

Delaware named cycling as its official state sport in 2014, and, a year later, was named one of the most bike-friendly states in the country by the League of American Bicyclists. 

Will you be exclaiming “Dela-WOW!” after exploring the state on these rail-trails? Well no, because no one actually talks like that. But you’re sure to enjoy all its wonders, big and small.

Michael Castle Trail 

Delaware's Michael Castle Trail | Photo by TrailLink user Ted Sammons
Delaware's Michael Castle Trail | Photo by TrailLink user Ted Sammons

County: New Castle 

So what makes this 12-mile paved greenway so beloved by locals? Is it the gorgeous spring wildflowers, water views or ample opportunities to see wildlife? Maybe because it intersects Lums Pond State Park, allowing trail users additional ways to enjoy a beautiful day in nature? The trail follows much of the C&D Canal that links the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware River. Originally built in 1829, the canal remains one of the world’s busiest, giving trail users a chance to see passing cargo ships and beautiful historic bridges. At its Maryland terminus, the trail continues on another two miles as the Ben Cardin C&D Canal Recreational Trail

Northern Delaware Greenway Trail 

Delaware's Northern Delaware Greenway Trail | Photo by TrailLink user gogovind
Delaware's Northern Delaware Greenway Trail | Photo by TrailLink user gogovind

County: New Castle

Currently the longest rail-trail in the state, the 10-mile Northern Delaware Greenway Trail is also the oldest; work began in the early 1990s, when residents decided they’d rather have a trail than yet another shopping mall. Traveling from Bellevue State Park on the Delaware River to Brandywine Creek in Wilmington, the trail passes through scenic Alapocas Run State Park, over several punchy climbs, and past several historic estates, including Bellevue Hall and Rockwood Mansion. Want to stretch your legs a bit more? The trail connects to the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway

Cape Henlopen State Park Bike Loop/Junction & Breakwater Trail 

Delaware's Cape Henlopen State Park Bike Loop | Photo courtesy Delaware State Parks
Delaware's Cape Henlopen State Park Bike Loop | Photo courtesy Delaware State Parks

County: Sussex 

You may never have visited the Cape Henlopen State Park Bike Loop, but you’ve almost certainly seen it on the news when President Joe Biden pedaled on this Delaware state park bike path. Biden, who owns a home within a few pedal strokes of the 3.3-mile trail, is one of an estimated 100,000 people who use the path each year. The trail connects to the 8-mile Junction & Breakwater Trail on the western edge of the park, connecting the towns of Lewes and Rehobeth Beach.


TRAIL OF THE MONTH: Delaware's Cape Henlopen State Park Bike Loop (January 2021)

Jack A. Markell Trail 

Delaware's Jack A. Markell Trail | Courtesy Delaware Greenways
Delaware's Jack A. Markell Trail | Courtesy Delaware Greenways

County: New Castle

The 5.5-mile Jack A. Markell Trail follows a former industrial rail line, passing several scenic overlooks of the Christina River, multiple bridges, and a 2,300-foot boardwalk elevated over the Russell W. Peterson Wildlife Refuge. Be sure to stop to hopefully catch a glimpse of beavers, otters and bald eagles. Have a question about something you see or need to tighten a bolt? Interpretive kiosks and bike repair stations line the route. Can’t get enough of the area? The Markell Trail intersects with two other scenic pathways, the Wilmington Riverwalk and the New Castle Battery Park Trail, as well as the East Coast Greenway.

Bob Trail 

Delaware's Bob Trail | Photo courtesy Lee Cannon | CC BY-SA 2.0
Delaware's Bob Trail | Photo courtesy Lee Cannon | CC BY-SA 2.0

County: Sussex 

The Bob is a fitting name for this fun, unassuming 4.6-mile gravel trail. Named after local trail champion Bob Venables, the pathway showcases the beauty of the other, non-beach side of Delaware. The trail winds through a hardwood forest and travels over boardwalk bridges through a cypress swamp in Trap Pond State Park. Birdwatchers should keep their binoculars at the ready, as warblers, kingfishers and pileated woodpeckers are frequently spotted along the path. The trail passes the Trap Pond camping area, which makes an excellent base camp for the weekend, and also connects to the half-mile American Holly Trail in the park. 

Gordon’s Pond Trail 

Delaware's Gordons Pond Trail | Photo by TrailLink user srbruise
Delaware's Gordons Pond Trail | Photo by TrailLink user srbruise

County: Sussex

Gordon’s Pond Trail travels the western side of its namesake 900-acre saltwater lagoon. Part of an interconnected trail network inside Cape Henlopen State Park that includes the Pinelands Nature and Walking Dunes trails, as well as the aforementioned Bike Loop and Junction & Breakwater Trail, the 3.2-mile Gordon’s Pond Trail may be the most scenic of them all and offers some of the best wildlife viewing. One of four North American spots considered a “migration super highway for waterfowl,” Coopers hawks and ospreys are also frequently spotted in the sky, while red foxes are known to occasionally dart across the trail. 

James F. Hall Trail/Pomeroy and Newark Rail Trail 

Delaware's James F. Hall Trail | Photo by TrailLink user Jamie Herrera
Delaware's James F. Hall Trail | Photo by TrailLink user Jamie Herrera

County: New Castle 

Built on a section of a former passenger and freight line connecting Delaware and Pennsylvania, the 4-mile Pomeroy and Newark Rail Trail quickly goes from urban—the University of Delaware campus and downtown Newark—to the more tranquil environs of White Clay Creek State Park. Many locals combine the Pomeroy Trail with the 2-mile James F. Hall Trail to extend their day on the trails. Inside the park, hikers can also tack on the 5-mile PennDel Trail

Capital City Trail/Isaac Branch Greenway

Delaware's Capital City Trail | Courtesy Delaware Department of Transportation
Delaware's Capital City Trail | Courtesy Delaware Department of Transportation

County: Kent 

The Capital City Trail and the Isaac Branch Greenway are the first trail sections of the planned 14-mile St. Jones River Greenway. The Capital City Trail winds it way through Dover’s most historic attractions and parks, as well as the Dover Air Force Base, before connecting to the Isaac Branch Greenway at its southern terminus. That trail continues through small hardwood forests alongside a busy highway, connecting several residential neighborhoods.

New Castle Battery Park Trail 

Delaware's New Castle Battery Park Trail | Photo by TrailLink user James McGinnis
Delaware's New Castle Battery Park Trail | Photo by TrailLink user James McGinnis

County: New Castle

A pretty short paved path along the Delaware River, the Battery Park Trail bisects its namesake park, so named from the battery of cannons that once protected the city from invaders. Today, the only wars you’ll likely witness are fish fighting against the anglers just off the trail. Walkers and cyclists can often see sailboats from the nearby sailing club gliding across the river. 

Georgetown-Lewes Trail

Delaware's Georgetown-Lewes Trail | Photo by TrailLink user James McGinnis
Delaware's Georgetown-Lewes Trail | Photo by TrailLink user James McGinnis

County: Sussex

Built on the remnants of a recently decommissioned Delaware Coast Line Railroad route—the last train passed through Lewes in 2017—the Georgetown-Lewes Trail continues to make incremental progress toward its namesake goal. Eight miles of trail currently exists, and when the trail is eventually expanded from the current terminus at the town of Cool Spring to the Sussex County seat of Georgetown, its 17 miles will make it the longest rail-trail in the state. Passing through multiple residential developments, marshlands, forests and retail establishments, the trail will allow Lewes residents and visitors a way to safely travel to Georgetown’s business and entertainment districts.


RELATED: Delaware Signs the Deal for Phase 1 of Georgetown-Lewes Rail-with-Trail

SubscribeWhen you subscribe to Rails to Trails magazine, you'll have access to many other features like this one. Our magazine is a premium of Rails-to-Trails Membership. Join today to start receiving the magazine!
TrailLink App by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Banner
COMMENTS
comments powered by Disqus