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How and Where to Embrace the Great Outdoors in Delaware This Fall

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Courtesy of the Greater Wilmington Convention & Visitors Bureau/Photo by Moonloop Photography

From picturesque locations for peeping fall foliage to seasonal events for all ages, here are places to get some fresh air and enjoy autumn to the fullest.


Even as the days begin to cool, you don’t have to turn to the gym for your daily dose of fitness. Fall is an especially picturesque time to get outside and enjoy the changing foliage and pleasant weather on hiking and biking trails throughout Delaware.

(According to the Farmers’ Almanac, peak fall colors are likely to occur in Delaware between Oct. 19–Nov. 4.) Events happening over the next few months will have you eager to embrace nature and enjoy the season to the fullest.

Be sure to follow proper social distancing and face covering guidelines when exploring.

(Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2017 and has been updated as of September 2020.)

Abbott’s Mill Nature Center

Milford

 

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For an idyllic autumn setting complete with nature trails, a 20-acre pond and a historic working mill, walk this way.

Hike through lush woodlands that provide no shortage of fall foliage, or explore the handicap-accessible boardwalk that leads to open meadows and a picnic area perfect for admiring the season’s changing scenery.

To immerse yourself a different way, kayak and stand-up paddle board rentals are available by reservation.

Catch upcoming family-friendly events like Outdoor Family Science: Lot’s of Leaves, Terrific Trees (Oct. 21, $15 for members and $25 for non-members) that bring children closer to nature.


RELATED: We Take a Fall Road Trip to Nearby Chester County, Pennsylvania


Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge

Smyrna

 

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Whether you choose to embark on the 12-mile wildlife drive or explore one (or several) of the five scenic walking trails, Bombay Hook boasts over 16,000 acres of diverse habitats along the Delaware Bay.

Fall is the peak time for waterfowl migration. October is the best month for Avocets, large numbers of Canada and Snow geese arrive this month, and duck numbers increase as pintail, mallard and black ducks begin their fall migration, according to the refuge’s website. Bur marigolds also bloom in freshwater pools during this time.

From wildlife viewing to self-guided hikes to photography and fishing, there are plenty of ways to embrace the outdoors at Bombay Hook in the fall months.


Brandywine Creek State Park

Wilmington

 

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Fourteen miles of trails provide plenty of opportunity to stay in shape throughout the fall, with the added benefit of enjoying wildlife and photography opportunities.

The park features two nature preserves: Tulip Tree Woods and Flint Woods, which are especially picturesque as the leaves begin to change.

Keep an eye on the sky, too, because unique to the fall season, species of hawks can be seen over the valley as they begin migration.

Throughout October and November, events like group hayrides (recurring, $125 per wagon), invite you to experience the outdoors in autumn in full.


Killens Pond State Park

Felton

 

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Hiking trails and cross-country trails stretch through various habitats with a number of plants and animals. At the center of it all is the 66-acre millpond, making for a serene and scenic autumn setting.

The Pondside Trail, a 2.6-mile loop, travels through a hardwood forest, across flowing streams and past forest understory. The route is on a packed earth surface and has views of the pond and access to fishing spots.

The Cross Country Trail travels through a forest, crosses a bridge along the west end of Killens Pond and loops a primitive youth campground.

Don’t miss the recurring October private hayrides ($25 minimum, $5 per person) or fun seasonal events with an educational twist like Spooky Spiders (Oct. 3-4, free with paid park entry or camping stay) and Local Legends: Supernatural Thrills (Oct. 10-11, free with paid park entry or camping stay). Homeschool programs like Fall Colors (Nov. 10 and 12; $5 per student) offer an up-close opportunity for students to learn about and get up close to fall foliage.


Trap Pond State Park

Laurel

 

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Hike or bike through Bob Trail, which wraps around Trap Pond and passes by the Bald Cypress Nature Center. A crushed stone route that leads to an elevated bridge over freshwater wetland, this area is ideal for birding enthusiasts. Observe Warblers, kingfishers and Great Blue Heron in their habitat. Plus, crossing through the bald cypress as their needles brown and drop for the fall makes for a scenic walk.

Grab a seat on a family pontoon boat tour ($20 per tour, up to eight family members) for a 45-minute ride through the northernmost Baldcypress swamp in the United States, or a family wagon ride and ride through field and forest to the interior of the park to view the Cypress Swamp.


White Clay Creek State Park

Newark

 

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With 37 miles of trails for hikers and mountain bikers, White Clay Creek State Park offers historic sites and lush fall scenery. The Boundary Line Trail, starting at Thompson Station Road, has hikers cross an old stone bridge into an open field and continue through Osage Orange trees, to Corner Ketch Road, up to the highest point in the park. This trail connects with the White Clay Creek Preserve in Pennsylvania.

Whitely Farms Trail, a 3.2-mile route ideal for hiking and biking, begins near the old Whitely Farms. The single-track carries through hayfields and a hardwood forest.

Several upcoming events give you the extra push to get outside this season. Hop on a 45-minute group wagon ride, followed by 45 minutes around a warming campfire ($125 per wagon). To experience the trails in a different light, check out a full moon hike (Oct. 30, free).


Brooke Schultz and Kaydee Jones contributed to this article.