Whether you’ve lived in the Delaware coastal region for a long time or have recently moved here, you might find yourself adapting one of Charles Dickens’ most famous lines as you sit in traffic watching beautiful farmland transformed into more housing, thinking . . .
“It was the best of times. It was the most complicated of times . . . “
Because in so many ways it’s true. Our population in Sussex County has grown more than 25 percent in the past 12 years. That growth has been accommodated to some degree by a tremendous amount of new construction. That includes neighborhoods full of large single family homes built for families, townhomes and condos well-suited to downsizers among the 55+ group, and renovations of virtually every home in historic Lewes and the older sections of Rehoboth and Dewey.
Many homebuyers might feel it’s not enough, however. First because there’s a distinct shortage of what many view as “affordable” housing in price ranges within reach of middle income workers . And secondly because new neighborhoods tend to sell out quickly. We also know from our own experience that it can take a good amount of time before you find your perfect home with just the right amenities even among the large number of new developments underway.
Beautiful scenic vistas within minutes of Route 1
Given this level of demand we can reasonably expect local and national developers to continue building. But we also know that many people who have chosen to move to the area because of our wonderful beaches and other natural attractions may worry that too much is being paved over. If you’re one of them, take heart! Because it’s actually very easy to find wide and beautiful scenic vistas within minutes of Route 1.
Broadkill Beach is within reach!
If you’re after an especially peaceful vibe, head up Route1 and take a right at the Route 16 intersection. Within the first mile you’ll see beautiful forests lining a country road that leads to the spectacular Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. With more than 10,000 acres of salt and freshwater marshlands, ponds and forests, it’s a vast sanctuary for migratory birds that ends at a long beach on the Delaware Bay that’s especially peaceful for those who enjoy solitary walks on cool days.
As Broadkill Beach resident Scott Pauli sees it, “it’s a beautiful place – perfect for sea glass and shell hunting . . . and the enormous flocks of geese on the water are breathtaking. Also, the fall foliage is stunning . . . there are several trails where you can observe deer, bald eagles and a large variety of birds. It’s a great getaway and remember – there are no bugs in the off-season!”
Do your outlet shopping – then head for a nature trail
Another scenic spot located just off of Route 1 is the Thompson Island Preserve, with a trail that winds through forests and marshland and ends at an overlook near the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal. It’s beautiful and feels surprisingly remote, and once you’re there you’ll hear and see nothing of the nearby highway. The entrance to the trail is on Bay Road, just west of of Route 1 at the canal bridge, so you can do your outlet shopping and take a long walk through nature shortly afterward.
To get there from Route 1 turn onto Canal Drive (at the Tidal Rave discount store) and take a left on Bay Road.
If you’re up for a longer drive . . .
Another spot for relaxation and exercise if you’re willing to drive an hour is Trap Pond State Park in Laurel, with nearly nine miles of canoe and kayak trails amid towering Baldcypress trees.
If you don’t want to drive as far, check out the Assawoman Bay State Wildlife area, with 3100 acres of natural beauty and walking trails just beyond Fenwick Island.
And don’t forget the greatest treasure of all . . .
Stretching from the edge of historic Lewes to the gateway to Rehoboth, Cape Henlopen State Park will always be a vast treasure protected from development and preserved for all of nature’s year-round pleasures.
Covering 7,000 acres of gorgeous forests, vast marshlands and nature trails alongside 6 miles of ocean beach, the park offers a wide array of ways to be super active or simply relaxed. One of the best ways to experience it is via The Lewes Rehoboth Loop Bike Trail, which is becoming legendary for its endless scenic vistas of the Lewes Rehoboth Canal, Gordon’s Pond and WWII lookout towers.
There are actually two trails, each offering distinct features. The Junction Breakwater Trail is your best bet if you’re on a bike and aiming for some bursts of speed. You can access it via Kings Highway in Lewes across from Cape Henlopen High School (where you can also park your car before getting on the trail), or via Gills Neck Road just outside downtown Lewes, or via the outer edge of downtown Rehoboth just east of Route 1.
If you’re looking for a slower and more enriched experience with nature, take the Gordon’s Pond Trail. You can get on it in Lewes at the end of Cape Henlopen Drive as you enter the park, and in Rehoboth at the top of the North Shore. You can download maps of both trails online.
Also keep in mind that you don’t need a bike to enjoy all of this. The trail is designed for walkers and bikers alike, even though you need to be somewhat cautious during the busiest times of the year. Bikers and walkers should go single-file so bikes can pass on the left, and if you’re passing walkers on your right make sure you call out to let them know you’re coming.
Also note there’s another amazing treasure within the park, where you can learn about Delaware’s tremendously important role in national and maritime security. Fort Miles is open year-round, with equally beautiful vistas of nature alongside a fascinating museum.