Outdoor Destinations Worth Trying

From our staff and contributors

Bombay Hook

I try to swing by Bombay Hook whenever I have a shoot in the area, sometimes at the crack of dawn and sometimes as silhouettes of the ubiquitous great blue herons usher in the night. It’s a dynamic place, sometimes silent and meditative, sometimes teeming with tens of thousands of snow geese or other wildlife. But it is always worth the trip. The $12 annual fee is one of the best deals out there, and the $4 daily pass will get you hooked.

   — Joe del Tufo, Contributing Photographer

Rockwood Park

Tree-lined paths for energizing walks of varied distance, lots of grass that’s ideal for lounging in the sun, a historic 18th-century mansion to explore and, on the last weekend in June, the nationally known Ice Cream Festival.

  — Larry Nagengast, Contributing Writer

Brandywine Creek State Park

On either land or water, it’s hard to beat this 933-acre gift from nature. On land, you have hiking, biking, jogging, picnicking or just sitting and reading or contemplating the (usually) gently-flowing creek or surrounding flora, fauna and the occasional heron. On the water, there is canoeing, kayaking, tubing and fishing for smallmouth bass, bluegill, and crappie in Brandywine Creek, and for trout in Wilsons Run.

— Bob Yearick, Contributing Editor

Canalfront Park

Located along the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal, the Canalfront Park is home to the Lightship Overfalls, the former boathouse of a U.S. Life-Saving Station, tennis courts and picturesque walking paths. It’s also a hub for community activities, including weekly yoga, festivals and movie nights.

— Pam George, Contributing Writer

Trap Pond State Park

This southern Delaware gem has picturesque biking trails, a popular sand beach and an array of camping options, including sites for tents and RVs, as well as cabins. But the lake itself, the northernmost cypress wetland in the United States, is the biggest draw. Paddling among the trees feels like traveling into an earlier epoch. Kayaks and canoes are available for rent.

   — Dan Linehan, Contributing Writer

Brandywine Park

Brandywine Park is good for my soul any time of the year. Delaware’s largest urban park runs along the Brandywine River between Augustine Road and North Market Street. Its cherry blossom trees and picturesque water fountains (the Josephine fountain is currently under repair) add to the enchantment of a budding rose garden. Picnic tables, trails, and a suspension bridge (fun to ride a bike on) and free concerts at the park’s Sugar Bowl pavilion, heighten summer days. The park is home to the only zoo in the state, and its llamas, goats, and other animals and reptiles delight the young at heart. It has playgrounds, a dog park, and athletic fields that keep the place bustling with activity. Several memorials, including a Vietnam Memorial, grace the landscape. Cobblestoned Monkey Hill—not a fun road to drive on—is used for winter sledding and for the Wilmington Grand Prix. Fall transforms the 178 acres into a tapestry of colors and cool breezes. In the winter, snow-covered holly trees add specks of red to a quiet white landscape. And the Brandywine Arts Festival takes place at the park every September.   

— Adriana Camacho-Church, Contributing Writer

Northern Delaware Greenway

This paved, multi-use path wends its way through a variety of state, county, and city lands from Bellevue State Park near Claymont to Brandywine Park at the edge of downtown. Though paved, the greenway offers some aerobic challenges to those on bike or foot, especially in the Alapocas section, but the scenery is beautiful throughout its 10-mile length. The Northern Delaware Greenway will soon be paired with the Jack Markell Trail that, once opened later this summer, will provide a similar route from the Wilmington Riverfront south to New Castle. delawaregreenways.org

— Mark Fields, Contributing Writer

Wilderness Canoe Trips, Inc.

This is the best way to see the scenic Brandywine River, and you can do it at your pace—set a speed record or float leisurely down the river. There are two trips available. The 6-mile trip starts at the Brandywine River Museum and costs $65 for a canoe or tandem kayak and $55 for a solo kayak. The 12-mile trip starts at Brandywine Picnic Park at Lenape and costs $75 for a canoe or tandem kayak and $65 for a solo kayak. You can also rent a tube for a short ride from Smith’s Bridge to Thompson’s Bridge for $20 per tube. Transportation is provided from Wilderness Canoe at 2111 Concord Pike to the drop-off points and at the pick-up point at Thompson’s Bridge. Reservations are required at least 24 hours in advance and a waiver must be signed beforehand. One more thing—no alcohol is allowed. For more information, call 654-2227.

— Kevin Noonan, Contributing Writer

Russell W. Peterson Wildlife Refuge

I’m always surprised by people who say they’ve never been to the Wildlife Refuge on our city’s waterfront or those who swear they never knew it existed. It’s an architecturally and environmentally stunning and tranquil parcel of land, tucked along the river just past the bustle of riverfront shops, restaurants and hotels. It houses extensive fish and wildlife habitats surrounding the winding paths, rock gardens, and resting spaces around and even “into” the marsh. Atop the bridge is one of the prettiest views of the city I’ve seen.

— Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald, Contributing Writer

Coverdale Farm Preserve

Enjoy the beauty of the Northern Delaware Piedmont by visiting Coverdale Farm Preserve in Greenville. With rolling hills and panoramic views of the countryside, this farm has live animals, vegetable gardens and farm-based education programs to delight all ages. Sign up for the community-supported agriculture (CSA) program for fresh produce each week or attend one of the educational programs or farm events throughout the year. Prices vary, so check out the calendar here: delawarenaturesociety.org/CoverdaleFarmPreserve.

— Leeann Wallett, Contributing Writer

The Chester Valley Trail

Chester County, Pa., boasts an extensive network of trails for walking, running and biking. The Chester Valley Trail, reclaimed from abandoned rail beds and stretching 14 miles from Exton in Chester County to King of Prussia in neighboring Montgomery County, is the jewel in the crown. Bordered by public parks, lush vegetation and featuring a mostly flat incline, the CVT makes a perfect day trip from Delaware. Dining options near the trail—including Red Star Craft House in Exton Square Mall and World of Beer at Exton Main Street on the west end, a Wegman’s supermarket along the way, and the full bounty of King of Prussia Town Center to the east—make for a more pleasant visit when you’re ready to carbo load, refuel or refresh. More info at chestervalleytrail.org.

— Scott Pruden, Contributing Writer

White Clay Creek Preserve

For local walks and hikes I often go to Lums Pond or any of the various White Clay Creek State Park trailheads, but recently I was reintroduced to the preserve of the same name, located in Landenberg, Pa. Approximately three miles of hiking trails run through the northern part of the park with varied terrain, meadows, wooded trails and wildlife. These trails connect with paths in White Clay Creek State Park on the Delaware side, and at least one path leads directly to the Nature Center at the state park (1475 Creek Rd, Newark). Venturing through the Pennsylvania preserve and even back into Delaware provides a fresh perspective of the vast amounts of nature on our doorsteps. One preserve trailhead is off Arc Corner Road, though the official address listed on the website is 405 Sharpless Rd., Landenberg—take your pick!

— Krista Connor, Senior Editor & Digital Media Manager

So, what do you think? Please comment below.