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Wilmington Trail Club Celebrates 75 Years

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Hikers head down the recently opened stretch of the Michael N. Castle Trail along the C&D Canal. Photo by Ron Dubick

WALK HARD

Jim March of Newark is well suited to hiking 35 miles of the Brandywine Trail in eight hours. That’s from Brandywine Creek State Park to Ludwig’s Corner, Pa. With 40 years of logistics experience working for Agilent Technologies, the man knows how to plan. “You have to train, you have to want to get up at 4 a.m. to catch the bus at 5 a.m. to get dropped off at the starting point and then, you walk back.” Brilliant. The Wilmington Trail Club celebrates 75 years this year, thanks to dedicated and thoughtful members like March and his wife, Joan. Whether the organization’s 700 members are taking on the Brandywine Trail or taking new members on a three-mile zip along the new Michael N. Castle Trail, the group covers lots of ground. Lucky for them, Delaware teems with hiking trails, from the piedmont of the White Clay and Brandywine Creek state parks to rambles through marshes at national wildlife refuges like Bombay Hook and Prime Hook to long walks on the beach. Hikers are eager to share their passion for nature. With groups like the First State Webfooters, part of the American Volkssport Association, and other outdoor enthusiasts, club members maintain trails up and down the state for public enjoyment.HIT THE TRAIL

Blackbird State Forest The 10 tracts of Blackbird State Forest are open for hiking and, unlike at the state parks, they cost nothing to use. Load a backpack. There are primitive camping sites available, first come, first served. dda.delaware.gov/forestry/forest.shtml

Browns Branch County Park This dog-friendly spot in Harrington has an established walking trail that crosses paths with a wetland boardwalk. Fido will love it. co.kent.de.us/parks-recreation/browns-branch-county-park.aspx

Delaware Greenways This network of existing and planned trails is partly for recreation, partly a route for non-motorized transportation. It includes the Northern Delaware Greenway from Brandywine Park in Wilmington, through Alapocas Run State Park, across the Rockwood estate out to Fox Point State Park, as well as the Junction and Breakwater Trail at the beach. delawaregreenways.org

Michael N. Castle Trail The trail, converted from old access roads on the north bank of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, will eventually expand to 16 miles, from Delaware City to Chesapeake City, Md. For now, it’s nine flat paved miles, accessed at Summit North Marina in Bear, that offers a window onto our unique maritime culture. dnrec.delaware.gov

First State National Monument More than 1,000 acres of the former Woodlawn Trustees property provides multi-use trails on the hills sloping to Brandywine Creek. You’ll ramble from corn field to forest to creek bottom in the newest unit of the National Park Service. nps.gov/frst/index.htm

TEST YOURSELF

State Park Trail Challenge Delaware State Parks encompass more than 100 miles of beautiful trails. Start hitting them now. Complete five trails to earn the Explorer Award, 10 for the Advanced Hiker Award or all 15 for the Expert Hiker Award. Hey, you get a patch. destateparks.com/trail-challenge

Hike Across Delaware The Wilmington Trail Club organizes a 14-mile walk from Chesapeake City, Md., to Delaware City via the north bank of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal on Nov. 1. You’ll love the fall foliage. wilmingtontrailclub.org

HOOK UP

First State Webfooters Affiliated with the American Volkssport Association, the Dover-based Webfooters are all about fun, fitness and fellowship. Most hikes are about 6 miles and are family-oriented. home.comcast.net/~gccottrell/index.html

Wilmington Trail Club The group organizes 400 events a year, including several weekly hikes of up to 15 miles in area state parks. In celebration of its 75th anniversary, members re-enacted the original April 8, 1939, hike from the Van Buren Street Bridge in Wilmington’s Brandywine Park through Alapocas Woods to Rockford Tower. wilmingtontrailclub.org

Wilmington Ski Club Don’t let the name mislead you. Though the group is organized mainly around skiing, it also coordinates hikes and camping trips. wilmski.org

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