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

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From picturesque fall foliage destinations to seasonal events for all ages, here are places to enjoy autumn throughout the First State.

Sydney Kerelo, Brooke Schultz and Kaydee Jones contributed to this article.

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.

Enjoy these local destinations ripe with rich fall color and picturesque views across the First State.


Abbott’s Mill Nature Center

Milford

For an idyllic autumn setting complete with nature trails, a 20-acre pond and a historic working gristmill, 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.

 

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Experience wildlife up close at its visitor center, which is home to a live animal collection and displays.

Catch upcoming family-friendly events like Abbott’s Knee-high Naturalists: Plant Colors (Oct. 7, 14, 21, 28; $8 for members and $13 for non-members), which allow little ones to experience nature hands-on.


RELATED: Travel to These Hidden Sussex County Gems at the Beach This Fall


Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge

Smyrna

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

Fall is the peak time for waterfowl migration. October is the best month for Avocets, and large numbers of Canada and Snow geese arrive this month. Duck numbers also increase as pintail, American black ducks and green-winged teal begin their fall migration, according to the refuge’s website.

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

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

The park features four nature preserves: the Carney Tract, Tulip Tree Woods, Fresh Water Marsh and Flint Woods, which are especially picturesque as the leaves begin to change.

Keep an eye on the sky, too, since species of hawks can be seen over the valley as they begin migration during the fall.

Throughout October and November, events like group autumn hayrides (recurring, $130 per wagon), invite you to experience the outdoors, with a 45-minute campfire following each ride.


Killens Pond State Park

Felton

Hiking 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.

Don’t miss the recurring October private hayrides ($5 per person) or fun seasonal events with an educational twist like Going Batty! (Oct. 2-3, free with paid park entry or camping stay), Local Legends (Oct. 9-10, free with paid park entry or camping stay) and It’s a Great Pumpkin (Oct. 16-17, $5 per participant). These offer an up-close opportunity for students to learn about what happens in fall.


Trap Pond State Park

Laurel

Hike or bike through the 4.6-mile 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. Plus, crossing through the bald cypress as their needles brown and drop for the fall makes for a scenic walk.

Hikers can enjoy more than 12 miles of trails throughout Trap Pond State Park’s plentiful woodlands. There are also more than nine miles of canoe and kayaking trails.

 

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Grab a seat on a family pontoon boat tour ($6 per tour) for a one-hour guided tour through the northernmost bald cypress swamp in the United States. Otherwise, hop on a 40-minute fall wagon ride to journey through field and forest to the interior of the park to view the Cypress Swamp.


White Clay Creek State Park

Newark

With 37-plus miles of trails for hikers and mountain bikers, White Clay Creek State Park offers historic sites and lush fall scenery. Hikers can enjoy paved trails and numerous historical monuments such as the 200-year-old Chambers House Nature Center.

 

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For mountain bikers, the Bryan’s Field Trail offers incredible views and a challenging skills course for experienced bikers.

Several upcoming events give you the extra push to get outside this season. Hop on a 45-minute group straw hayride, followed by 45 minutes around a warming campfire ($130 per wagon). To experience the trails in a different light, check out the full moon hike (Oct. 22, $6 per person).


Wilmington & Western Railroad 

Wilmington 

Local leaf peepers can enjoy two different excursions along the Wilmington & Western Railroad. The Mt. Cuba Picnic Grove is a 1.5-hour round trip to Mt. Cuba Picnic Grove with a 30-minute layover along the Red Clay Creek banks ($17 per adult). This area is a gorgeous spot to enjoy the autumn colors.

 

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For a longer fall excursion, try the 2.5-hour round trip traveling the length of the 17-mile railroad to Hockessin ($17 per adult). Travelers have a 30-minute layover in Hockessin near local shops and restaurants.

Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library 

Winterthur 

The views at Winterthur Museum’s gardens offer a masterpiece of color and design, especially during the fall. Guests can explore the gardens on foot or by the narrated tram ride.

 

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Throughout October, events like Truck & Tractor Day (Oct. 2, $20 per adult) or the Tailgate Tours (Oct. 20, $30 for Winterthur members) offer guests a special guided look at the beauty of Winterthur in autumn.

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