SCOTT PRUDEN • EDITOR//PHOTO BY
I vividly recall as a teenager going on my first tubing trip down the Brandywine with the youth group from Ebenezer United Methodist Church in Newark.
For this South Carolina kid who had grown up tromping through the woods, playing in the creeks and (unbeknownst to my mom at the time) occasionally swimming in the alligator and snake infested Ashley River around my Lowcountry home, experiencing the joy of the Brandywine on a hot summer day was a bit of a surprise.
I’d been brought to the Delaware compliments of my dad’s job. That transition to what at the time I called “DuPont Nirvana” wasn’t the easiest for me, particularly because it yanked me away from a balmy Southern spring into a decidedly less temperate Delaware April (hello, 55 degrees and rainy). And although I’d been living in what would technically qualify as a suburban housing development, nothing had prepared me for the heavily developed surroundings I encountered when I arrived here. My love of the outdoors, it seemed, had run its course.
But on that humid afternoon, gently floating along the cool waters of the Brandywine, I saw things from a different perspective. The lush green that formed a canopy overhead was far more hospitable than the raw chill that had welcomed me to the First State. There was beauty here that I had yet to appreciate, and perhaps the chance to tromp through woods and swim in creeks that I, in my teen angst, had refused to acknowledge.
It’s sad to think about, but there are Delawareans born and raised here, who then grow to adulthood unaware of the bounty that I began to understand as a teenager. And for a while, that was understandable. Compared to places like California or Colorado, Delaware never had a national reputation as an outdoors paradise. For a time, we were a well-kept secret of birders and hunters.
But that’s changing. With the growing interest in healthy living, Delawareans began to look for ways to keep themselves fit outside the confines of a gym. After all, why ride a stationary bike or walk a treadmill when you could get out on rugged trails?
Now, in addition to being a place that balances the urban, rural and coastal in ways few states can, Delaware is a place that offers a surprising number of outdoor attractions for a place so small. Our state parks, natural preserves, waterways, beaches and biking and hiking trails offer so many chances to get outside that, as writer Dan Metz notes in this month’s cover story—These Are Delaware’s Top Outdoor Attractions—some residents are surprised that many of these opportunities lie just outside their windows. Indeed, almost all we’re missing is mountains (and there’s rock climbing just a few miles from downtown Wilmington’s office towers if you miss them that much).
So, as the weather warms and the snows subside, take a moment to appreciate the wonders of the outdoors that lie all around us and just off the beaten path. Then get out and enjoy them. No matter where you are in Delaware, there are adventures to be had.