Cruising the Canal

The Michael N. Castle Trail

Length: 14.3 miles 
Great for: Hiking, walking, cycling, fishing horseback riding 

Since 1829, the 14-mile Chesapeake & Delaware Canal has been a busy shipping channel for vessels traveling between the Delaware River and the Chesapeake Bay. Today the waterway also provides scenery for those traversing the Michael N. Castle Trail, named for Delaware’s former governor and U.S. congressman. 

In January, the final segment of the paved trail opened, creating a link to Maryland’s Ben Cardin Trail. “It’s great for walking, running and bicycling,” says Michelle Hannum, who lives nearby. “The final extension provides a smooth, scenic path from Delaware City all the way down to Chesapeake City.”

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Stop and savor the scenery on one of the many benches that line the trail, which passes through the C&D Canal Wildlife Area and portions of Lums Pond State Park. Or bring a fishing pole and try your luck. In warm weather, rest in the shade of one of the three bridges that cross the trail. 

You can’t miss the hulking cargo ships or pleasure boats as they make their way down the canal. But also look for wildlife and wildflowers in the park areas. And stay alert. Though cars aren’t permitted on the trail, disobedient drivers have been known to drive onto the path for a shortcut to a scenic view.

In Delaware City, the trail connects to the municipal park and the ferry dock to Fort Delaware State Park on Pea Patch Island. Because this trail is a straight shot, walkers who don’t want to trek down and back can leave a car in one spot and get a ride to a beginning point. Plenty of fun restaurants await for refueling at either end.

Other shipshape trails 

You can also catch sight of tankers on the 2-mile Riverview Trail in Fox Point State Park on the Delaware River in Brandywine Hundred. This paved path accommodates hikers, bikers, strollers and “rollers” (in-line skaters). Some people use the park as the jumping off point for the Northern Delaware Greenway Trail instead of starting in Bellevue State Park. You must cross highways, however.

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