Length: 6 miles
Great for: Walking, running, cycling
Starting behind the busy Tanger outlet shops, this trail offers an unexpected experience near the shoreline and Del. 1. You’ll pass farmland, pine forests, open fields and wetlands. The highway and the Rehoboth Boardwalk will seem far away. But, in fact, the trail runs from Gills Neck Road in Lewes to Hebron Road in Rehoboth Beach. (There are access points along the way, including a lot behind Tanger Outlet Seaside.) Visit the boardwalk, then bike or Uber back to Lewes.
The trail is named for the Junction & Breakwater Railroad, which was chartered in 1857 to build a connection between Harrington and the Atlantic Coast. The line between Lewes and Rehoboth opened in 1878. One of the two bridges on the trail was originally built in 1913. The track later became part of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Passenger operations ceased with the growth of the highway system, and the line between Lewes and Rehoboth was abandoned in the 1970s.
The surface, which includes asphalt and crushed stone, is ideal for many purposes. “I love the quality of the trail. It’s great to run on,” says frequent user Tom Archino. “The beauty is amazing.”
Practice good trail etiquette. You’ll likely share the road. In 2015, about 50,000 people used the trail. Combined with the Gordons Pond Trail, the Junction and Breakwater received Southern Delaware Tourism’s 2016 Best Attraction Award.
More rails made into trails
The Junction and Breakwater is not the only former railway to be made into a hiking and biking trail. The 4.4-mile Pomeroy and Newark Rail Trail, which is mostly paved, connects the city of Newark’s James F. Hall Trail with White Clay Creek State Park. More rail trails are in the works.