The 10 best outdoor adventures near campus
Although small in size, Delaware and its surrounding areas contain a myriad of natural gems available to anyone who seeks them out. The variable topology of the state, from coastal areas heading inland or from north to south, yields a stunning range of ecosystems that leaves nature lovers plenty to explore just outside of campus. These outdoor adventures, all within a two hour drive of the university, will envelope visitors in the natural beauty of the first state.
White Clay Creek State Park
With over 37 miles of trails, White Clay Creek State Park holds the promise of hours of exploration. Many low-profile gems, like its fishing ponds, frisbee golf course and tri-state monument, decorate the sprawling park. Check out the main park entrance for the playground, fields and picnic area, or head to the Hopkin’s Bridge Road entrance for tubing and swimming in the wide bends of the creek during the summer.
Brandywine Creek State Park
Hilly and wooded, Brandywine Creek State Park offers visitors some of the best running trails in Delaware. Though it is only minutes from downtown Wilmington, plenty of wildlife, like small animals and birds, make their home in the park. Visitors can admire old mill buildings and the creek itself from beautiful bridges connecting the trail. Hikers, walkers, bikers and dog-walkers will enjoy the well-marked and — mostly — paved trails.
Alapocas Run State Park
Alapocas Run State Park, located between the Brandywine Zoo and Brandywine Creek State Park, holds a multitude of community and environmental events on its grounds. From educational stream-ecology events to rock-climbing classes, the park has programming for everyone. The park’s trails offer scenic views as they lead hikers atop cliffs and banks overlooking Brandywine Creek. Keep an eye out for the man-made waterfall, a classic hangout spot for Delawareans.
Killens Pond State Park
Located in Kent County, Killens Pond State Park offers visitors access to waterfront recreational activities like kayaking, canoeing and fishing. For those more interested in local wildlife, the Killens Pond Nature Center is home to a collection of indigenous reptiles and amphibians. Hikers and runners enjoy a flat cross-country course that wraps through fields and wooded areas, and a pondside nature trail that showcases aquatic wildlife.
Lums Pond State Park
A product of the damming of St. George’s Creek, Lums Pond is the largest freshwater pond in Delaware, and a destination for boating, athletics, hiking and camping. Sports fields and trails for horses and hikers wind around the pond, while, on the water, visitors can rent canoes, kayaks and pedal boats. For those who prefer an aerial view of the pond, a company based within the park offers supervised ziplines, Tarzan ropes and treetop courses to visitors of all ages.
Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge
At Bombay Hook, The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service protects one of the largest remaining tidal saltwater marshes in the area. Not only can visitors appreciate a range of indigenous vegetation preserved at the refuge, but also the wildlife that inhabit it. Visitors will often get the opportunity to see and hear large, majestic birds of prey in their natural habitat. With five different walking trails throughout the marsh, visitors can fully immerse themselves in the beauty of Delaware’s natural coastal landscape.
Cape Henlopen State Park
The farthest destination — nearly a two-hour drive from the university — Cape Henlopen State Park is worth the journey. Besides its public access to a quiet beach, the park draws visitors with some of the best hiking trails in Delaware. Trails offer views of various ecosystems in a small area, including those of saltwater marshes, forested areas of pine and dunes sporting delicate flora. For a weekend trip, visitors can camp or stay in cabins.
Fair Hill Natural Resource Management Area
Fair Hill, Md., just across the Delaware border, has 10 different hiking trails that take pedestrians through wide-open fields and into stunning vistas of Big Elk Creek. Hikers may encounter plenty of horseback riders in this area, as its popular thoroughbred training area has attracted equestrian activity. Fair Hill is a hotspot for event programming as well. For example, the Cecil County Fair happens every summer in the area.
Ridley Creek State Park
Sprawling over 2,606 acres, Ridley Creek State Park is endlessly explorable. Recreation opportunities include hiking, fishing, bicycling, picnicking and even cross-country skiing in the winter. The real gems of the park, though, are its historical landmarks. The Hunting Hill Mansion, built in 1915, contains the park office and a popular wedding venue, and visitors may encounter old mill buildings on the grounds. Historians at The Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation, a farm preserved from pre-colonial times, offer living-history tours and events for school groups and the public.
Hagley Museum and Library
Historical as well as natural, Hagley Museum is a former DuPont property located on Brandywine Creek. Visitors will enjoy the scenic beauty of the creek’s flora and fauna while appreciating the power of the creek, harnessed by original powder works of the DuPont company. The outdoor portion of the museum has original steam engines, water wheels and black-powder explosion demonstrations.