Maybe it’s just us, but we’ve found that lots of Delawareans don’t know about the great trails in our State Parks. Sure, most of us have wandered along the dunes at Cape Henlopen, but have you ever climbed the Observation Tower that’s hidden along one of the trails? And lots of us have taken our dogs to the park near White Clay Creek, but have you ever stood in two states at one time? Delaware trails get an unfair reputation for being boring and flat, but what people don’t realize is how exciting these trails can be. Even better, the State of Delaware will reward you for hiking them! That’s right – they’ve created a Trails Challenge, and if you complete 5, 10, or 15 of the “Trail Challenge” hikes within a year, you’ll earn the Title of Explorer, Advanced Hiker, or Expert Hiker. Each level awards you a certificate, patch, and prize. You can learn more about the trail challenge
So, if you love the outdoors, write these down and plan your next hike right in the First State!
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Prickly Pear Trail - Delaware Seashore State Park
This easy 3.5 mile trail is great for beginners or families with children. There are open meadows, plenty of beautiful forest, and a gorgeous view of Indian River Bay.
2. David English/Boundary Line Trail - White Clay Creek State Park
The David English / Boundary Line Trail is a single-track loop through White Clay Creek State Park. One of the quieter trails on our list, it's wonderful for wildlife spotting. Halfway through the trail, you can find the Twin Ponds cut-off trail, which will loop you back to the trailhead. Or, you could keep an eye out for the Boundary Line trailhead along the David English Trail, cross a beautiful stone bridge and hike up a hill (approx 1.5 miles from the trailhead) to the highest point in the park. From here, you can meander into the White Clay Creek Preserve in Pennsylvania, or head back downhill to the trailhead. This is one of the most interesting trails in the entire state of Delaware!
3. The Loblolly Trail - Trap Pond State Park
The red-marked Loblolly Trail is a 3.3 mile loop around Trap Pond, linking the Park Office (where you can find maps and other information) to the Baldcypress Nature Center. If you're looking for an easy, relaxing trail where you can enjoy the Baldcypress trees and plenty of wildlife, this is a great trail for you.
4. Whitley Farms Trail - White Clay Creek State Park
The Whitley Farms trail is a neat trail to take if you prefer open meadows mixed with older trees. Like most of White Clay Creek State Park, it's on a moderate grade, so it's best to plan for a longer hike. This particular trail is just over 3 miles, but you'll probably wander around the meadows a bit, so plan to walk closer to 4 miles. Near the Hopkin's Road crossing, there's a steep decline that's fun to jog up and down. You'll also stumble upon a small creek running down the hill.
5. Gordon's Pond Trail - Cape Henlopen State Park
Gordon's Pond is a 2.7 mile out-and-back trail that follows the edge of the pond for just under a mile before heading up to a scenic overlook. From there, you'll continue around the pond, spotting marsh birds and other wildlife, before finding the Boardwalk. The Boardwalk allows for more scenic views of Cape Henlopen State Park.
6. Bike Loop Trail - Cape Henlopen State Park
The Bike Loop Trail may be the best kept secret of Cape Henlopen State Park. It's got a boring name and is only about 3 miles long, so many people pass over it for more exciting trails like the Junction and Breakwater trail. However, we'll warn you - don't skip this one based on the name! One of the coolest things you can do in Cape Henlopen is climb the observation tower along this trail - on a clear day, you'll be able to see for miles! This is a great trail to get a look at what Cape Henlopen State Park is all about.
7. Junction and Breakwater Trail - Cape Henlopen State Park
One of the longest trails on our list, the Junction and Breakwater Trail is great for birding, spotting wildilfe, and getting away from the more crowded, shorter trails. This 5 mile one way trail is great for bikers and hikers. It follows old railroad tracks, which make for great pictures, and provides scenic views of the marshes of the park from a few side trails.
8. Twin Valley Trail / Arc Corner Monument - White Clay Creek State Park
White Clay Creek State Park might be the most interesting state park for Delaware trails. If you take the moderate Twin Valley trail, you'll be able to see the Arc Corner monument, and step foot in Delaware and Pennsylvania at the same time! Be warned, it's a nearly 4 mile trail on a moderate grade, so it is one of the more strenuous trails on this list.
9. The Bob Trail - Trap Pond State Park
The Bob Trail joins up with the Loblolly trail in several spots at Trap Pond, so with careful planning you can combine the two for a 4.6 mile loop around the pond and Nature center. The Bob Trail is great for birding, and the elevated boardwalk takes you over swamp and marsh, allowing a close look at wildlife that's usually kept at a distance.
10. River View Trail - Fort DuPont State Park
The River View Trail at Fort DuPont State Park is a wonderful way to have a historic hike! Throughout the easy mile-long trail, you'll learn about the history of the Fort and see relics left behind as monuments. This short trail is perfect for families, as it's one of the easier Delaware trails
11. Pondside Trail - Killen's Pond State Park
The Pondside Trail at Killen's Pond provides the best views of the water through its many connector trails. It's a good trail for birding, spotting wildlife, or fishing, and the streams that cross the trail at multiple spots are unique to Pondside. It's a fairly short trail, only 2.6 miles, and loops back to the beginning. It does have some elevation gains and declines along the way.
12. Swamp Forest Trail - Lum's Pond State Park
Swamp Forest is a better trail for hiking than biking in our opinions due to the multiple elevated boardwalks that you'll encounter on this 6.4 mile inner loop around Lum's Pond. You'll run into more activity on this trail than on the Little Jersey Trail on a typical day, so be prepared to encounter dogs, disc golfers, and families having picnics. Because of the dog training area/park along this trail, it's one of the best Delaware trails for bringing your pooch.
13. Cross Country Trail - Killen's Pond State Park
The Cross Country Trail at Killen's Pond is a great beginner trail. It runs just over 3 miles through forest and a youth campground, and then crosses a beautiful bridge over part of Killen's Pond. It's a good trail for families or hikers who don't have a full day to wander in the woods. You'll be rewarded with great views of the pond and some spectacular wildlife spotting.
14. Little Jersey Trail - Lum's Pond State Park
The Little Jersey Trail is the longest loop trail on our list, at 8.1 miles. It's a perfect trail for an easy bike ride with plenty of places to stop and rest along the wide trail. It's a loop trail that runs flat around the entirety of Lum's Pond State Park, linking the Equestrian Center, campgrounds, and boat launch. It's a busy trail for Equestrians, so be aware that if you're on a bike or on foot, you'll need to yield to the horses. This is definitely our favorite bike trail on the list.
You’ll find some amazing wildlife and unexpected adventures in these Delaware trails, so don’t forget about them next time you want to spend some time with nature. All of the trail maps and directions to the trailheads can be found on the Delaware State Park website.