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Spanning just shy of 8 miles, the Jack A. Markell Trail, named after a former Delaware governor, connects the Wilmington riverfront with New Castle. The paved pathway was formerly known as the Industrial Track Greenway Trail after the old freight line on which the rail-trail is now built.
Highlights of the route include overlooks of the Christina River in downtown Wilmington, several scenic bridges, and a 2,300-foot boardwalk elevated over the marsh of the Russell Peterson Wildlife Refuge. The trail ends just north of Battery Park on the Delaware River in New Castle.
The trail is not only an important local connector, but is also part of the nationally significant East Coast Greenway, which will one day connect trails from Maine to Florida.
At the northern end of the trail in Wilmington, parking is available at Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park (80 Rosa Parks Dr.) and at the Russell Peterson Wildlife Refuge (1400 Delmarva Lane).
At the southern end of the trail in New Castle, parking is available off Delaware St./Route 273 adjacent to New Castle Elementary School, and in Battery Park (1 Delaware St.), which lies just southeast of the trail on the Delaware River shoreline. From Battery Park, head north on what is known as the Heritage Trail until Delaware St., then continue north on Jack A. Markell Trail.
The trail is also accessible via public transportation as the the north end of the trail is just a block from Wilmington Station (100 S. French St.), which serves both Amtrak trains and SEPTA's Wilmington/Newark Line.
We parked at the New Castle Battery Park, since that's where traillink says the trail starts. There are, however, no signs that we could find that gave any direction to take the trail. Confusingly, there is a 2 mile trail along the river, starting in the park, that is NOT the Jack Markell trail. After a lot of head scratching and inquiring, we realized that the trail starts northwest on South Street about 5 blocks from the park, at the intersection with 8th Street. And, even there, it's not called the Jack Markell Trail, but The Heritage Greenway Trail. After a couple of intersections, the Jack Markell signs started. This is NOT how to mark a trail!
The trail itself traverses some aesthetically tedious areas, including going under US 13, I-295, and I-495, all extremely busy highways. Much of the trail is through industrial areas, a former landfill, and large marshes before arriving at the Wilmington River Walk.
We were glad to ride the trail to support it, but it does need some additional signing and guidance in New Castle.
It was called industrial trail and that’s a good name. You go behind manufacturing plants, landfills, and swamps full off tall grass. Not pretty. They spent a bazillion dollars on a crappy “boardwalk “ over some swamp. Lock your bike SECURLY if you leave it for only a few minutes. It WILL disappear....
I work at Chase in Wilmington and I just started using this trail to commute home from work. I take the trail on the riverfront and exit at Chelsea Estates neighborhood. Then the rest of my commute goes through Corp Commons, Churchmans rd. to Harmony rd. This trail helps me cut out most of the areas in Wilmington that are "If'y" and high traffic. Very scenic and quiet. I would like to take this trail in the mornings into work but not sure if the trail is open all the time or certain sections close dusk to dawn. The only part that i would question would be the tunnel by Baylor prison near Chelsea Estates. I may take a dry run one weekend to see. I would be traveling around 6 am. So far i love my commute. Hopefully one day we could connect newark to wilm the same way. Even though there are bike lanes on Kirkwood Hwy, there are still some sketchy areas along that route coming into elsmere and wilm near and on 4th st. Ride safe!!
Following up on our last comment, rode again yesterday afternoon (Sunday 9/30) from New Castle to the Riverfront. In the 1 3/4 mile stretch from Rt. 273 to Boulden Blvd. we passed 45 bikers. From there to the new bridge another 50. From there to beginning of the River Walk another 36. Stopped counting then because of the numbers. Too hard to count walkers, joggers, and roller blades, but must have been at least another 100 - 130. Fast becoming our favorite trail in Delaware.
Rode the new section of the trail for the second time yesterday (9/26) at mid-day. Don’t know what numbers the traffic counters will show but happily surprised how busy our ride was. While others have talked about the beauty, one should also mention usage. During a 30 minute ride north we passed 12 hikers and 14 others on bikes. This was on a Wednesday. Later in the afternoon - 6 PM - we returned to New Castle and again experienced an equal amount of trail users. Wonderful example of “Build it and they will come”.
Rode on the boardwalk through the marsh and over the Christiana bridge today. Very well done! If you start at the beginning of the Rivertrail in Wilmington and go to the turnaround point along the river south of New Castle, it's just shy of 10 miles. My only concern is that the one tunnel is very dark, could be hazardous if there is an object on the trail and you can't see it. Does anyone know if there is a plan to continue south and connect with the canal trail in Delaware City? On the northern side, a bike lane going through downtown Wilmington to the Greenway on the north side of downtown would also be worthy of consideration.
Eager to finish the route once it goes through to Wilmington!
Found nothing scenic or enjoyable on this trail. Rode thru questionable areas, not enough light in the tunnels to see the ground, crossed two busy roads, rode the trail right next to the women's prison.
Road the trail from the Boulden trail head towards Wilmington and was stopped at the new bridge. Workers there still doing replanking and it is closed. Went south towards Olde New Castle and found the trail blocked at the Suburban Kiosk about .75 miles from New Castle. Did see a deer on the trail. Can't wait until I can do the trail end to end.
Was on the trail today with my wife for first time since tunnels have been opened. Great connection to go uninterrupted from Christiana River to old colonial New Castle. The lighting in the tunnels was not on and even in the daytime they are dark, so use caution, however it is a big improvement now that the two segments of the trail are connected.
We wanted to ride to the Christiana, but were not able to do so because of crews paving the last half mile of trail. We are grateful for their efforts and to see the trail progress "live." According to an engineer on the site, the bridge and connection to other side and downtown Wilmington should be completed in 6 weeks! Very exciting! Once completed you will be able to start at the northern end of the Greenway north of Wilmington, cut through downtown, hop on the trail on the Christiana riverfront, cross over the river and finish in New Castle. Can't wait!
Ran the trail from the parking area off of Boulden Blvd to the Christina river bridge. The trail is fully open and paved all the way to the river. However, the lights in the tunnels under the highway weren't working which was a little disconcerting. The Christina river bridge appears to be "kind of open" with an open gate but construction equipment still around some work still to be completed. Beyond the Christina river I was told that the trail continues for another half mile or so before being fully blocked by construction. Apparently at some future date it'll connect all the way to the Wilmington train station.
Overall, it wasn't the most scenic environment passing among other things - a prison, the Delaware state potters field, a psychiatric hospital, a couple of highways and lots of high tension lines. It was a reasonable option as I was staying at the Fairfield Inn nearby. Next time I stay in the area I'll try running the trail south of the parking area to the Delaware river.
The trail from the City of New Castle to the Christiana River is done and open. The bridge over the Christiana River is complete but, not open yet.
I hope that they extend it past the the environmental center.
Biked from New Castle to the Christiana River today. This portion of the trail is all paved except for the tunnel under 295 (stone), and a 50 - 100 foot section north of the tunnel (dirt). Total time walking the bike was around 5 minutes - tunnel is pretty dark. All the construction gates were open. Hopefully the small amount of paving at the tunnel will be done soon. The bridge over the Christiana is under construction.
If you park your car at the Battery Park tennis courts and bike this section of the Industrial Track and then cross Battery Park on the grass and bike the trail from Battery Park south along the Delaware, it's about 6.5 miles total, or 13 miles out and back on both. You can extend the miles by connecting the Battery Park trail with Route 9. Only saw a couple of other bikers.
Note: there is a confusing sign that says "End of Trail" as you approach 295 from the New Castle side - continue on the quiet road, then you will see the first tunnel and the trail restarts. My guess is that the sign is marking the transition from trail to the short stretch of barely used road.
This is a nice trail, but it will be better when it is fully connected.
It would also be better if there was an easy, safe way to get to Battery Park from the New Castle end of the trail.
I studied the description and maps and thought why not give it a try- I'm from 20 minutes away and vaguely know the area. I parked at the elementary school on Rt 273 and had no problem finding the trail. i headed north which is well marked, paved, with signs and distance markers. It runs through a nice elevated railbed through a suburban area but is wide enough and green enough you don't see too many back yards. Rabbits and squirrels are plentiful. At about the half way point of this short trail is a nice peak of the marsh and is a welcome view with geese and turtles. the trail ends just on the other side of Boulden St by the ball fields. The tunnel to connect to the next trail is finished but gated and a road closed sign. Seems that although this tunnel is finished perhaps the next one is not so you cant get through. I was hoping since the last post was a year ago that it would be open by now. I turned around and headed back and went south past my starting point into New Castle and ended up at the park. That part was great. Trail was well maintained and connected with about a 1.5 mile trail along the riverfront that I really enjoyed. Also paved and wide enough for peds and bikers.
We use the southern part of this trail which is lovely this time of year as it is shaded most of the day. Where the Industrial Track Greenway Trail ends at 273, there is a crosswalk that connects you to a short Heritage trail. The Heritage trail ends at 8th and South streets in Historic New Castle, and just a few blocks down South Street (light traffic most times) is the Delaware River and Battery Park, which has its own gorgeous, paved trail right along the river---not as much shade, though! There is a playground in the park and there are public bathrooms in a brick building.
At the northern end of the New Castle portion of the Industrial Track Greenway Trail there is a tunnel under Rte. 13 which looks complete, but is fenced off. This is just past the Champions Little League baseball field. I haven't seen anyone working near the tunnel for a few weeks, but it seems as if there is a path on the north side. Does anyone know when the tunnel will be opened?
As its name indicates, the New Castle Industrial track greenway was built on a now-defunct rail line that once serviced numerous factories in northeast Delaware. Fortunately, most of the trail passes through forests and marshlands, with the surrounding cities and suburbs barely visible. Although signs at the 6 kiosks that line the trail depict a completed greenway between Wilmington's Christina Riverwalk and Battery Park in Old New Castle, this is not yet the case. As of this writing, in August 2014, the trail consists of two disconnected segments, separated by a pair of tunnels that will pass under Route 13 and I-295. Completed between 2005 and 2010, the southern segment currently extends from 8th Street in New Castle north to athletic fields situated between Boulden Blvd. and Route 13. Almost completely straight, this paved trail is shaded by trees for most of its length and features 3 kiosks with benches and interpretive signage. Unfortunately, the southernmost kiosk in the marshlands just north of Route 273 has been badly vandalized, and graffiti, some of it obscene, has been sprayed on both the fencing that lines the trail, and on the surface itself.
The northern, completed segment, which currently extends from a point immediately north of I-295 (where a tunnel has already been constructed but remains closed to public use)to the south bank of the Christina River, gets much less use. This is due to its isolated location behind the Delaware Psychiatric Center and the fact that the only public parking is along the shoulders of Baylor Blvd. The presence of security guards outside the nearby Baylor Womens' Correctional Institute, who will likely ask what you are doing (just tell them you are using the trail), also makes for an uninviting environment. Nonetheless, this section features more scenic, wooded areas and passes by a Potters' Field and more marshlands. Despite the close proximity to several major highways, a large city and the aforementioned prison and psychiatric facility, I was surprised to see several deer and numerous other wildlife on this segment of trail. This is a small island of wilderness in megalopolis! The completion of 3 additional kiosks on this segment of the trail, although somewhat surreal in their present state, anticipate the trail's future as a greenway between two of Delaware's prominent cities. Additionally, the southern section is already part of the East Coast Greenway, a much longer series of multi-use trails that will eventually extend from downeast Maine to Key West, Florida. The construction at numerous points is currently an inconvenience, but indicates that these goals are well on their way to being realized. The tunnels under Route 13 and I-295 are nearly completed, meaning that the two sections could be connected as early as this fall. Hopefully, the bridge across the Christina River and the connector trail to the Christina Riverwalk will be finished in the next couple years, allowing the full potential of the New Castle Industrial Track trail to be realized. Until then, I can only give the trail a 2-star rating due to the vandalism, lack of parking for the northern section and intimidation by the guards around Baylor Womens' Correctional Institution, as well as the lack of disclaimers on the kiosk signs indicating that certain segments of the greenway are not yet completed.
A previous reviewer compared the Chrstina Riverwalk to Baltimore's Inner Harbor and said "it hasn't quite worked." I think this is unfair. The Riverwalk may not feature such high-profile anchor attractions as the Baltimore Aquarium, MD Science Center or USS Constellation, but Wilmington, though the largest city in DE, isn't as large as Baltimore, either. One advantage is that I did not encounter any of the panhandlers or large crowds that are often found on the Inner Harbor. Instead, I found a pleasant, concrete walkway lined with lush trees and gardens, following the calm waters of the Christina River. Numerous works of art, including sculptures, memorials and birdhouses carved to resemble Delaware landmarks, added further charm, as did several sidewalk cafes and restaurants that you can stop at for lunch or refreshments. Several restored cranes attest to Wilmington's heritage as a seaport, while a commitment to preserving nature can be seen with the elevated boardwalks that carry the Riverwalk over several wetlands and with the Russell Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge, which the trail connects at its southern end. Named in honor of the former governor and environmentalist, the wildlife refuge covers the marshlands at the city's southern end and provides panoramic views of the river and city skyline. Although the wildlife refuge is currently as far as you can go, future plans call for a new trail, the "Riverwalk Connector," extending west to the New Castle Industrial Track Greenway. When this happens, the Riverwalk will become part of a greenway system that connects the south side of Wilmington with New Castle's Battery Park. This trail system, in turn, will become part of the East Coast Greenway, an ambitious "mega-trail" project that will eventually run from Eastport, Maine to Key West, Florida. When this happens, the Riverwalk will attract many more users that it currently does and will become one of Wilmington's main attractions. It is definitely a first-rate example of the city's commitment to urban renewal.
For the moment, it's still partially under construction/only partially open.
The trail itself is smoothly paved with asphalt, and has a Heritage trail leading from a wonderfully scenic area of Old New Castle straight to the trail. The trail also has a very lengthy bike path that runs along the very busy roadway of rt. 273, allowing safe access to and from the trail.
When completed, a tunnel underneath of the busy roadways (mostly complete not yet open) will allow access to the rest of the trail, which is also paved. The Christina River will then be bridged and lead up to the beautiful Wildlife Refuge in Wilmington; in the meantime (until the bridge is completed), my only complaints are that crossing traffic in two places is quite hazardous, and there need to be more connections for the local neighborhoods that the trail connects to in order for it to become a great commuter route.
The riverwalk’s south end enters the Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge, crosses a bridge over railroad tracks and ends at the front door (and 3rd floor) of the DuPont Environmental Education Center. Take the flight of stairs down to the 1st floor to continue your walk on 1,200' of boardwalk into a freshwater tidal marsh, which is a rare habitat in Delaware. The center is operated by the Delaware Nature Society and has programs year round for children, families, adults, groups and schools. The refuge is 212 acres and home to over 200 species of wildlife including a resident pair of osprey. The site is a nice retreat 2 miles from the center of downtown Wilmington. http://www.delawarenaturesociety.org/deec.html
I did this short but nice trail this past week. The City of Wilmington tried to copy the Inner Harbor at Baltimore and it just has not worked. Back to the trail, there are a number of very good restaurants along the way and a number of Bird Houses made by Thomas F. Burke that are modeled after famous houses in Delaware. It passes the Blue Rocks Baseball stadium and has lots of parking. I under stand that there are plans to connect the New Castle Industrail trail, It would be a great trail as it would go from Downtown Wilmington to Old New Castle about seven miles.
This is a great little trail that would be a very good ride for a young children, it is flat, smooth and has a very good canopy. It has a great view of some wet lands and has park benches and a couple of kiosks that have some great information. I have no idea when the other four miles will be in place but for a short ride it is very nice. I would start at the New Castle School as it is a nicer parking lot.
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