8 trails in Sussex for biking, hiking, canoeing
More than 100 miles of trails in Sussex County offer something for anyone who wants to get outside for biking, hiking and even canoeing in coastal marshlands.
But with so much to choose from, where to start?
Here are eight of the best ones, a couple of them mostly known among locals.
The Southern Delaware Heritage Trail
This is actually an on-road bike route that provides 130 miles of connecting trails for cyclists and more than 70 miles of scenic country roads for motorists who venture off the beaten path. The trail connects rivers, scenic drives, local heritage and historical sites, country inns, bed and breakfasts, motels and antique shops.
Starting in the north, the circuitous trail goes clockwise through Milford, Milton, Millsboro, to Laurel and the southern end of the loop, then north through Seaford, Bridgeville, Greenwood and back to Milford. A free printed map is available from Southern Delaware Tourism.
For a free map, call them toll-free at (866) 357-1818 or locally at (302) 856-1818.
Trap Pond State Park Loop
The loop is one of the most scenic and varied three mile walks or bike paths in Sussex County.
Located at 33587 Baldcypress Lane, Laurel, about 29 miles west of the beach, just off Route 24, it circles the lake at Trap Pond giving views of the pond, the cypress trees with their tangle of roots in the water, and the forest.
It ends/begins at the sandy beach area of the parking lot and the nature center where there is a giant playground that beckons as many adults as children. State park entrance fees apply.
For more information, call (302) 875-5153 or go to www.destateparks.com.
The Junction and Breakwater Trail
Driving into Rehoboth Beach can be a super hassle, but riding a bike in can be pretty easy and fun. The Junction and Breakwater Trail is scenic, easy and a pretty straight shot to Rehoboth or Lewes.
Get on the trail east of Route 1 by taking Munchy Branch Road to Wolfe Neck Road or from the trailhead off of the Holland Glade Road located behind Tanger Outlets where there is plenty of free parking. There are plenty of scenic spaces to stop – overlooking the Munchy Branch River and down glade just north of Rehoboth.
No car traffic here, just lovely shady trees for much of the journey. More than 50,000 people use this trail a year, yet it still doesn’t feel crowded. Best times are morning. Open for walking and biking, the surface is well suited for wheelchair or battery-powered devices for disabled persons.
Call (302) 739.4702 or go to www.destateparks.com for more information.
Gordons Pond Trail
The Gordons Pond Trail is located in Cape Henlopen State Park, where it follows the western side of Gordons Pond, a 900-acre salt water lagoon where early settlers used to come to get their salt.
There are sometimes muddy spots after a rain, but mostly this trail is a finely crushed gravel pathway that winds through coastal maritime forest, grassy marshes and sandy dunes, most of them seen well from a large observation deck early on in the ride.
The ride starts at the parking lot for the Gordons Pond Day Use Area. There are also two historic World War II observation towers on the beach to explore.
Broadkill River Canoe Trail
The tidal Broadkill River provides a gentle canoe trail between Memorial Park in Milton and the Nature Conservancy’s McCabe Preserve.
In the quiet journey see things like eagles and turtles amidst the tree and flower lined banks of the river. The preserve offers a landing spot on shore and a hiking trail.
The canoe trail is a joint venture of the Town of Milton and The Nature Conservancy’s Delaware Chapter. Canoe rental is available from Wilson’s Marina on Front Street in Milton or bring your own boat.
For more information, call (302) 684-3425 or go to www.ecodelaware.com
Edward H. McCabe Preserve and Greenway Trail, Milton
Owned and maintained by The Nature Conservancy (no pets), this unassuming, almost hidden, preserve is what a walk in the woods ought to be, a sensory experience – with smells of marsh and forest, calls from birds and enough colors and depth to make an artist pause.
From the beach, the preserve is a short 20 minute drive. There are three miles of well marked hiking trails, accessed by land from the road or by water from the Broadkill. If there is only time to hike one, take Bennetts’ Walk. This easy hike takes you through young forest to more developed forest.
There are two benches along the route. The first gives a nice place on a slope to enjoy the forest, the second overlooks the Broadkill River. Go quietly and watch for herons, warblers and frogs.
Wear bug spray and check for ticks at the end.
To get to the preserve, follow SR1 north approximately 3 miles. Turn left on Cave Neck Road (CR88). Turn right on Round Pole Bridge Road. Follow for .8 miles and look for the preserve parking loop on the left.
Abbott’s Mill Nature Center
About 25 miles from the beach at 15411 Abbotts Mill Pond Road, Milford., but really worth the trip. There are three miles of trails and boardwalk that goes through different eco-systems, marsh, woodland and fields.
While the obvious trails next to the parking area are great, for a real treat,cross the street and take the lesser known trail that takes you by a replica of a native American long house, along the edge of a field and meadow and down to the river’s edge where there are benches to rest and reflect.
Look for little placards along the way for tidbits of interesting information about what you’re seeing. Free. Open daily from dawn to dusk.
For more information, call (302) 422-0847 or go to www.delnature.org/AbbottsMill
Milford River Walk
About 21 miles north of the Rehoboth beach scene, the Milford River Walk can be found off Route along NE Front Street in Milford.
The main walk is a one-mile stroll through downtown Milford, with artwork and restaurants along the path. There are nice views, overhangs with benches, to feed bread to geese, fish and turtles (bring your own bread) along the back section past the Second Street Players Theater.
On the east end, the trail then spills on to Goat Island, which has been opened with trails and nature walk spots. A scenic area to birdwatch and just enjoy quiet.
For more information, call (302) 422-1104.