Length: 4.6 miles
Great for: Hiking, cycling, horseback riding (partial)
Trap Pond State Park in Laurel is famous for having the northernmost natural stand of bald cypress trees in the United States. Trails offer a close-up view. “You get a great look at the cypress knees,” says Joseph Sakaduski, referring to the distinctive woody projections above the roots. Stop in the park’s nature center for more information before you embark on a trail.
In the 1700s, the pond provided the power for a sawmill. Now the 90-acre expanse is the focal point of the 3.6-mile Boundary Trail, which circles it. Lewes resident Kathy Alderman and her husband traditionally bike the trail in spring and fall. “It’s lovely,” she says. To make the trail longer, they add the 1-mile Cypress Point Loop, which leads to the bald cypress trees.
Keen eyes on any of the trails might spot kingfishers, warblers, bald eagles, pileated woodpeckers, hummingbirds and owls.
Kayakers and canoers will appreciate the three water trails in the park. (Check to see if you need a permit.)
More old mills with memorable trails
Like Trap Pond, the 66-acre Killens Pond in Felton has roots in the 18th-century milling industry. A state park since 1965, Killens Pond offers a 2-mile biking trail, which is also suitable for hikers; a 2.6-mile trail around the pond, as well as over streams and through the woods; and an easy 3.1-mile cross-country trail that goes from open field to forest. After hiking or biking, cool off in the water park.
Lums Pond—the state’s largest freshwater pond—was used to power a sawmill and fill the locks of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal. There you will find trails for hikers, cyclists and equestrians. To loop the pond, take the 6.4-mile Swamp Forest Trail, made of crushed stone and packed earth. The 8.1-mile, packed-earth Little Jersey Trail flows through hardwood forests and open areas. It’s a wide trail that’s shared by hikers, cyclists and equestrians.
Many people know about these busy parks, but Abbott’s Mill Nature Center in Milford has been flying under the radar, says hiking enthusiast Mark Carter of Milton. He recommends the Isaacs Trail, which takes you onto a boardwalk into a white cedar swamp. “That trail is one of my favorites,” he says. “I’ve seen beaver back there.” You may also see owls, warblers and wood ducks.