Delaware is America’s second-smallest state, leading many to wonder if it has anything worth seeing. Be rest assured: it does! It lives up to its moniker “the Small Wonder” with lovely, scenic views and an array of natural habitats. No wonder, then, that cycling is its official state sport! Read on to discover the longest biking trail in Delaware and what wildlife you can expect to see along the way.
What is the Longest Biking Trail in Delaware?
The longest biking trail in Delaware is the New Castle Industrial Track Greenway. Only 14.1 miles long out and back (7.05 miles one way), it nevertheless offers pleasant views of nature and a gentle ride. One end of the trail lies in Battery Park in the town of New Castle at South Street and W. 3rd Street. The other end of the trail lies along the Wilmington Riverwalk in Wilmington just off S. Market Street near the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Station. This section of the trail lies along the Christina River.
The New Castle Industrial Track Greenway
The New Castle Industrial Track Greenway covers 14.1 miles of scenic views and easy grades. Many cyclists choose to bike the trail out and back, though a one-way trip may be appropriate for the inexperienced or those who simply want a more leisurely journey. There and back, the route takes approximately 4 hours to complete at a moderate pace.
The trail was once a freight rail line. After its abandonment, it became a much-needed connection between New Castle and Wilmington in 2018. Cyclists will find benches and bike racks along the route and may rent bicycles from the DuPont Environmental Education Center.
The ride through New Castle lasts about 0.6 miles. The trail begins at Battery Park at the intersection of South Street and W. 3rd Street and winds its way through the small community of New Castle. The grade here is very gentle.
Situated on the Delaware River, the town contains about 5,000 people. Though small, this community has a number of restaurants and services for cyclists either beginning their journey or ending it. The New Castle Historic District is well worth visiting for history aficionados with approximately 500 historic buildings from as early as the 1700s. This distinguished collection garnered the title of National Historic Landmark.
Battery Park itself is directly on the Delaware River, offering a pleasant stroll along its banks. Other parks in the town include the First State National Historic Park and Bull Hill Park.
New Castle to Wilmington
After leaving New Castle, the New Castle Industrial Track Greenway runs north and east for about 5 miles before reaching the Wilmington Riverwalk. Grades are more variable along this stretch of the path and the route itself is more rural and isolated at times.
The first part of this section takes cyclists through the scenic area around the Narrow Dyke Canal, crossing over the canal before running through an outlying suburban area. It then crosses over two sections of highway, the 40 and the 295.
Continuing on, the trail crosses the Wilmington Bypass after a short, fairly secluded stretch of trail lasting just over a mile. Immediately following this, the greenway crosses the Christina River and turns east over a couple of smaller bodies of water. At the DuPont Environmental Education Center, the route turns sharply north once more, heading for Wilmington proper.
Here, it begins to follow the Christina River with a brief trek west and then back east. At this point, it joins the Wilmington Riverwalk.
The trail ends in Wilmington on the Wilmington Riverwalk near the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Station just off S. Market Street. The Christina River winds along this final section of the trail. From the beginning of the riverwalk to its end in Wilmington, it lasts about 1.5 miles. The grade is very gentle here, as in New Castle.
Wilmington is the largest city in Delaware with a population of about 70,000 people, making it a great place to find restaurants, shops, and rest stops for tired cyclists. The trail end itself lies near a couple of eateries and provides easy access to main roads.
Winding through the Lower Market Street Historic District, cyclists will find a number of sightseeing options. Not far along the river to the east is its namesake, Christina Park. To the west at the intersection of S. Madison Street and S. West Street, cyclists will find the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts. A short ride to the northeast is the Downtown Wilmington Commercial Historic District featuring the Grand Opera House and a number of eating establishments.
Navigating the Route
The New Castle Industrial Track Greenway is a fairly easy path for walkers and cyclists alike. Its grades are gentle for the most part, never more than 5%. This allows for a mostly level ride with occasional increases in exertion. The trail is paved the whole way, making it appropriate for road bikes. Unfortunately, it has little to no shade, so cyclists riding in hot or sunny weather should take the necessary precautions to avoid sunburn and heatstroke.
Wildlife on the New Castle Industrial Track Greenway
Much of Delaware’s wildlife may be spotted from the New Castle Industrial Track Greenway. Common predators include wolves, coyotes, bobcats, and foxes, though coyote sightings are fairly rare. Residents of Delaware occasionally spot black bears; however, these likely come from other states.
Porcupines, opossums, muskrats, otters, and raccoons also make their home here. White-tailed deer are common as well as a number of rodents like woodchucks, squirrels, and chipmunks. Snake and turtle species inhabit various habitats throughout the state; only one snake in Delaware is venomous, the Eastern copperhead.
Birdwatchers will find much to pique their interest with hundreds of bird species. Ducks, egrets, herons, gulls, and sandpipers dominate Delaware’s waters. Birds of prey include eagles, hawks, vultures, owls, and falcons. Cyclists may spot a variety of smaller birds like blue jays, American robins, and house finches.
For a leisurely, scenic ride through some of the state’s best natural areas and communities, check out the longest biking trail in Delaware, the New Castle Industrial Track Greenway.
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