Coastal Delaware's Breakwater Junction Trail
Ahhh…Coastal Delaware! Over twenty-five miles of oceanfront property with a mix of small resort towns with all the touristy services (restaurants, hotels, etc.) and State Parks with miles and miles of undeveloped beach. So, you have a choice: Go to a beach with just a short walk to an ice cream cone or cold soda or go to a beach where all you can see is a grassy dune when you look inland.
....it is possible – with the use of some public roads and streets - to make an 18 -19-mile loop back south to Rehoboth Beach on the Breakwater-Junction.
Bicycling, walking or strolling around the area has been a part of a vacation trip for many since time immemorial. In the last 15 years, Delaware has started to develop multi-use trails that connect Coastal communities and let visitors (and locals!) enjoy walking, running and bicycling safely away from motor vehicle traffic while getting to enjoy some natural scenery.
One of the first to be developed is the Breakwater Junction Trail, which connects
Rehoboth Beach and Lewes with much of the right of way located within Cape Henlopen State Park. This 5.8-mile-long trail has good surface – some crushed stone, some asphalt, and some concrete. The southern end of the trail is on Hebron Road in Rehoboth Beach and the northern end is on Gill Neck Road just a short distance from Savannah Road, one of the main corridors in Lewes.
Since there are no parking or trailhead facilities at either end of this trail, there are some choices to be made. Of course, if you are biking from either Lewes or Rehoboth Beach, parking is not an issue and you can start from either Gills Neck Road on the north end or Hebron Road on the south end. If you need to travel a bit to access the trail you can park at the Wolfe Neck Trailhead on Wolfe Neck Road off State Route 1 where you will find parking, restrooms, trail information and a neat bike repair station on a pole with tools attached to cables so they can’t disappear. The Wolfe Neck Trailhead is close to the mid-point of the trail. There are also trail spurs leading to the Cape Henlopen High School on Kings Highway near Lewes and the Seaside Tanger Outlet on State Route 1 near Rehoboth and both these sites have parking. Finally, there is a short connection beside Gills Neck Road at the northern end of the trail to the Lewes-Georgetown Trail which has about a mile of asphalt trail finished between Gills Neck Road and Savannah Road in Lewes. About 0.2 miles from Gills Neck Road on this developing trail, you will find a trailhead facility with parking and restrooms. This is adjacent to the Lewes Library. Eventually, the Lewes-Georgetown Trail will stretch 16 miles and connect Lewes with Georgetown, the Sussex County seat.
A lot of beach resort visitors enjoy biking, jogging, or walking from Rehoboth Beach to Lewes or visa versa and enjoying a restaurant meal before making the return trip. Both these towns are “foodie” paradises with a wide range of dining options. Breakwater-Junction is also used by a locals and seasonal workers for the journey to work, shopping, or errand-running. This trail is busy year-round, but you will want to be sure to observe trail courtesies (bike single file, signal to pass, etc.) on summer and “shoulder season” weekends when traffic can be heavy at times.
Scenery along the Breakwater-Junction is a mix of farmland, forest, and residential developments with two crossings of small brackish water streams with saltmarsh vistas that roll off to the east toward the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal with the ocean beyond. Be sure to stop at the wide spot on the 1913 railroad bridge at Holland Glade to check the water for fish or turtles and the saltmarsh for wading birds or other animal life.
Some of the Breakwater-Junction is a rail trail, and the path’s name comes from the railroad that established the first line from Lewes into Rehoboth Beach in the 1870’s. The line was later acquired by the Pennsylvania Railroad. The “Pennsy” offered both freight and passenger service on this branch line during the first half of the 20th Century. But railroad traffic slowly declined with improvements in highways in the area and the line was eventually abandoned. The first section of the trail opened to the public in 2003.
To the east of the Breakwater-Junction is a parallel trail running from the Gordons Pond area of Cape Henlopen State Park (at the southern boundary of the Park) north to a 3-mile asphalt loop trail through the developed area of the Park (campground, beach bathhouse, Seaside Nature Center, Fort Miles historical area, Park office, etc.). At the north entrance to the Park, one can utilize Cape Henlopen Drive to access Lewes. Thus, it is possible – with the use of some public roads and streets - to make an 18 -19-mile loop back south to Rehoboth Beach on the Breakwater-Junction. Bike shops in Lewes and Rehoboth Beach provide maps to aid in traversing this loop.
An avid bicyclist, Lowell Markey has been a member of the C&O Canal Cumberland Bike Patrol since 2001. He is retired from Allegany College of Maryland and now resides in Rehoboth Beach, DE, but maintains a home in Ridgeley, WV, as well. He is an enthusiastic fan of the National Park system and has visited many Parks and served two-month terms as a volunteer ranger several times at parks in New Mexico, West Virginia, and Maryland. He will be serving again at the Williamsport visitors center in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park in September and October 2018. He is also a seasonal naturalist at Delaware Seashore State Park. Prior to retirement, he served as a junior and community college administrator and professor, a private practice lawyer, and as a law clerk to a U.S. District Court judge. He is married to Terri Markey and they have two adult children and two grandchildren.