Last weekend was nothing short of perfection with 60-degree sunshine filled days. Ok, it may have been a bit of a tease, but for those of us with a positive outlook, the warm weather was more a precursor of what’s to come…SPRING! Ok, ok, so yes we have been known to encounter a few March blizzards here and there on Delmarva, but for the most part, the days of temperatures lingering in the teens and twenties are behind us, which means it’s the perfect time of year for an outdoor hike. We may be devoid of hills and mountains on Delmarva, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ample opportunities for scenic hiking. Whether you are making a full day-trip or going for a brief stroll with your dog, we suggest getting outside and enjoying the brisk end-of-winter/early-spring days on a few Delmarva hiking trails!
Pemberton Hall and Park
Fall events like the Good Beer Fest and the Autumn Wine Festival bring us to Pemberton Park each fall, but we are often drawn back to the Salisbury park to explore the trails. The historical park is comprised of 262 acres of forest, field and wetlands. In addition, the park boasts 4.5 miles of nature trails, leading hikers through the Eastern Shore’s ecosystems. There are several trails to wander along, ranging from .2 mile loops to longer 1-mile paths. Wander along the tidal marsh of the Wicomico River or stroll along the park’s freshwater pond. Or explore all 4.5 miles of the nature trails for a full Pemberton Park experience.
In the summertime, we focus our attentions on the beach and the surf at Assateague. Admittedly, we sometimes forget about the variety of paved and unpaved trails throughout the barrier island that are perfect for an afternoon of hiking. To be precise, there are 37 miles of beach to wander at Assateague Island, with plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife. For a complete list of trails and associated maps, visit the National Park Service website. Both the Maryland and Virginia sides of the park yield loops and trails along both the beach and bay. The Service Road offers the longest trail, with seven miles of scenic views of both Maryland and Virginia. Or opt for the Wildlife Loop, a 3.25 mile hike around Snow Goose Pool. Take the Swan Cove Trail from here and make your way to the beachfront. The options are endless.
Herring Creek Nature Park
If you live in or around West Ocean City and you are in the mood for a brief outdoor stroll, we suggest Herring Creek Nature Park, located conveniently right off of Keyser Point Road. You can find us at this 20-acre park with our dogs on most sunny days, year-round. There is ample parking available, along with a large gazebo with picnic tables, old fashioned water fountains, a water pump and a compostable bathroom facility. For walking trails, enjoy your leisurely stroll past the tidal pond, frog pond, pine forest, scrub-shrub forest, freshwater wetland, wild flower field, meadow, and believe it or not, an actual hill. Just be sure to pick-up after your dog!
Redden State Forest
Located in Sussex County, Redden is Delaware’s largest state forest, totaling over 12,400 acres and over 44 miles of trails. It’s safe to say you could spend an entire day here and still not cover enough ground. Hiking, horseback riding, bicycling and bird watching are popular activities at the park, as well as camping and catch-and-release fishing. The most popular trail is the four-mile loop that goes around the 1,836-acre headquarters track. The trail takes you through dense woods, across bridges, through meadows and past hardwood trees and loblolly pines. While on the four-mile loop, you can also veer off course onto any of the smaller trails that branch off the main trail.
Trap Pond State Park
Delawareans and those passing through Delaware often find themselves drawn to the beauty of Trap Pond State Park. Located near Laurel, Delaware, the 2,109 acre state park is one of the largest surviving fragments of what was once an extensive wetland. Hiking trails take you around the 90-acre pond, affording you a chance to spot owls, hummingbirds, warblers, Bald Eagles, or Great Blue Herons (depending on the season of course). The 4.9-mile Boundary Trail is the perfect way to traverse a large chunk of the park while enjoying the beauty of Delaware’s wilderness.
Pocomoke River State Park
Located along the banks of the Pocomoke River, Pocomoke River State Park is divided into two sections: the Shad Landing area is 3.5 miles south of Snow Hill and the Milburn Landing area is 7 miles northeast of Pocomoke City. It truly is a nature-lovers paradise, right here in Worcester County. While Shad Landing is typically where the boaters head, Milburn Landing is an ideal hiking area, with almost 15,000 acres of wooded forest, along with cypress swamps and more. Keep your eyes peeled, you can observe a wide array of wildlife, including broad-headed skinks, Northern water snakes, Bald Eagles, pileated woodpeckers, muskrats, otters and over 50 species of fish including largemouth bass.
Holt’s Landing State Park
Further north in Delaware lays a hidden gem – Holt’s Landing State Park. With 203-acres of bay shore beaches, forests and grassy fields, there is a little taste of everything at Holt’s Landing. Historically, the park was home to Native Americans, who harvested seafood and hunted in the surrounding marshes and forests. Today , you can explore that same property , whether crabbing, picnicking or hiking. Herons, osprey, hawks, deer, fox and possum can all be seen if you tread softly through the trails. Pack a picnic and spend the day discovering new sights.
Cape Henlopen State Park
We love any hiking trail that leads us directly to the beach, which is exactly what you get with a hike at Cape Henlopen State Park. But that’s not all; you’ll also traverse woods, marsh and hills while enjoying wildlife sightings and historic sites. There are eight different trails within Cape Henlopen State Park, offering hiking, biking, horseback riding, dog-friendly stretches, camping, fishing, and swimming. Keep an eye out for the military bunkers that once housed heavy artillery during World War II.