New Trails Along The Chesapeake and Delaware (C&D) Canal Open

Delaware City –  The grand opening of recreational trails along the Chesapeake and Delaware (C&D) Canal was celebrated today, January 13, 2017,  by Delaware and Maryland officials who were joined by other officials, scores of trails partners and enthusiasts. The event marked the completion of the 14.3-mile continuous trail connects the historic towns of Delaware City, Del. and Chesapeake City, Maryland.

The trails in Delaware are part of the First State Trails and Pathways Initiative that expands a statewide network of new and enhanced trails and pathways for walking, biking, hiking and active living. Delaware’s trails promote the growth of the recreation and tourism industries, enable people to connect with the outdoors and improve the quality of life for all Delawareans.


The property along the north and south banks of the C&D Canal is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and leased under a long-term agreement to the States of Delaware and Maryland. In Delaware most of the 5,178 acres is managed by DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife as the C&D Canal Conservation Area. A small portion, including Fort DuPont, is administered by DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation, which also operates nearby Fort Delaware and Lums Pond State Parks. In Maryland the property is managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

As the federal agency entrusted with stewardship of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, we are glad for the recreational opportunities this trail provides for the canal’s ultimate owners – the American people, said Lt. Col. Michael Bliss, Philadelphia District Commander for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which owns and operates the canal as a shipping channel.

Abundant wildlife and scenic views along the C&D Canal made the area a perfect location for a multi-use trail that provides recreational opportunities for pedestrians, bicyclists, anglers, equestrians, bird-watchers and nature enthusiasts. Trail users can view wildlife, such as deer, turkeys and raccoons, along with rarer species, that include peregrine falcons, pied-billed grebes, and bald eagles as they travel along the banks of canal and past the area’s grasslands, forests, tidal marshes and ponds.

The trail is one of Delaware’s ultimate destinations for outstanding recreational opportunities for hikers, runners, cyclists and equestrian enthusiasts,” said DNREC Secretary David Small. “Within 20 miles of the C&D Canal, there are more than 700,000 Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey residents who have the opportunity to discover one of the most unique and scenic trails in the country. This trail, like the other trails throughout Delaware, contributes to our appreciation and stewardship of nature and the environment and will certainly continue to be enjoyed by generations to come.

The Trail includes 12.1 miles of paved surface, three trail-heads located at Biddle’s Point, St. Georges and South Lums Pond, and site amenities, including benches and kiosk comfort stations. Attractive landscaping was added and trail counters installed that measure trail usage. More than 100,000 people annually have used this trail since it was partially opened in 2013.

DelDOT managed the construction of the trail. Project design and constructed costs totaling $10.2 million were funded with 80 percent federal funds through the Federal Highway Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program and with 20 percent state bond bill appropriations to DelDOT and DNREC. The trail was designed by Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson (JMT), and constructed by Daisy Construction Company of Newport, Del. and Grassbusters Landscaping Co. of Newark, Del. With construction now completed, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife will manage and patrol the trail.

The trail in Maryland is a  1.8-mile a shared-use recreational trail provides visitors with spectacular views of the C&D Canal and wonderful opportunities for hiking, biking and fishing.

“The completion of the last section of the Canal Trail provides vital recreational opportunities for hikers, joggers, bicyclists, and birders and ultimately transforms the region into a destination for recreation enthusiasts,” said Chesapeake City Mayor Dean Geracimos. “However, it’s more than just a recreational trail, it’s an economic development driver that has already created new businesses in Chesapeake City. We’re extremely excited about the new ferry service that starts up in mid-April and will transport pedestrians and bicycles from the ferry dock along the trail to the south side of town and vice versa.”

Trail amenities include landscaping beds, benches, dog waste stations, a fishing dock and a volunteer trail master, Buddy Shephard. Visitors can access the trail in Chesapeake City at the trailhead by the town dock, located at the base of Lock Street. Parking is located under the Chesapeake City Bridge.

Chesapeake City and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers managed the construction of the trail. The project, totaling $2 million, was funded through the Federal Highway Administration’s Public Lands Highway Discretionary Program. Trail construction was completed by Ahtna Corporation.

Branch Canal Trail: 0.4-mile trail linking the Castle Trail to Delaware City
The Branch Canal Trail provides a key link to the Delaware trail, connecting hikers and cyclists using the trail  with local businesses and historic and natural treasurers located in and around Delaware City. The trail was built over the 1920’s-era C&D towpath located next to the open water of the Branch Canal. The trail was elevated and a bridge installed over marshy areas, and a 9.6-acre tidal wetland was created adjacent to the trail. The trail provides access to a recently-restored, important piece of Delaware history – the African Union Church Cemetery, the burial place of five members of the U.S. Colored Troops who served bravely for the Union in the Civil War.

It is with a great deal of excitement that we celebrate the opening of the trail from Delaware City, Delaware to Chesapeake City, Maryland. With much anticipation the public now has 14.3-mile trail with one of the most beautiful vistas in the region,” said Delaware City Mayor Stanley Green. ”Delaware City is proud to have played a small part in connecting to the other trails that will be used by walkers, runners and bicyclist for years to come. I extend our thanks to all of the many people who had the vision for this project, especially those who brought this project to its completion.

There is no question that tourism is a driving force in economic growth,” said Dr. Bill McGowan, USDA Rural Development State Director. “The USDA-funded trailhead connector provides accessibility for trail users to safely cross the marshy branch from the Mike Castle Trail into beautiful Delaware City, a town rapidly becoming a destination for its welcoming downtown and amazing location on the Delaware River.

The construction of the Branch Canal Trail was managed by New Castle Conservation District. Trail design was completed by AECOM of Newark, Del., with construction by Eastern States Construction of Wilmington, Del. Design and construction costs totaling $2.4 million were funded by grants and contributions to Delaware City and New Castle Conservation District from DNREC’s Community Environmental Project Fund, Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Trails Grant Program, state bond bill appropriations and settlement and penalty funds, resulting from environmental violations, and from funds provided by the Delaware-Maryland USDA Rural Development Agency in Dover. In June 2016 the trail was dedicated at an event hosted by Delaware City.

Source: DNREC, First State Update edited this press release. If you would like to read the full version click here.

Image Credits: DNREC