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This beautiful, pine-studded rail-trail winds through Cape Henlopen State Park next to wetlands and farmland, offering a break from the nearby beaches and eclectic shopping areas. The trail runs from Gills Neck Road in Lewes to the town of Rehoboth Beach and provides a perfect nature retreat.
The trail is mostly crushed stone, except for the last 0.2 mile near Rehoboth, when it becomes asphalt. As it is well traveled by locals and tourists alike, be sure to remember your trail etiquette. You will be sharing the mostly flat route with bicyclists, walkers, runners, wheelchair users, and families with strollers and dogs. Pick up the trail at Wolfe Glade (off Wolfe Neck Road), a forested area of oak, hemlock, and pine. Turn left to head to Cape Henlopen High School on Kings Highway (US 9) in Lewes, or turn right to head toward Rehoboth Beach. As of 2015, you can also start at the new western endpoint on Gills Neck Road under Freeman Highway (US 9) near downtown Lewes.
Along the way, the trail offers views of wetlands—especially at Holland Glade—via a refurbished 80-foot railroad bridge built in 1913. Continue farther and you'll find yourself flanked by cornfields and forests. Hawks and geese (both snow and Canada geese) can be spotted in the air, and deer, squirrels, and other small woodland animals share the trail. At the trail's southern end, Tanger Outlets provides bargain hunters an opportunity to break from the trail, shop the mall, and grab a bite to eat before heading back into the relative calm of the Junction & Breakwater Trail.
To reach parking at Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes, from the intersection of US 9, Business US 9, and State Route 1, travel east on SR 1 for 1.2 miles, and then take a left onto Kings Highway (County Road 268). Go approximately 1 mile. The trail is on the right, across Kings Highway from the high school.
To reach Wolfe Neck and parking, from the intersection of SR 1 and SR 1A in Dewey Beach, go 3.9 miles northwest on SR 1, and turn right onto Wolfe Neck Road. Go approximately 1 mile. You will see the Wolfe House on your right, where parking, restrooms, and a water fountain can be found next to the 0.2-mile path leading to the trail. (If you are traveling east on SR 1 from the intersection of US 9, Business US 9, and SR 1, you will go 3 miles, pass this turn, and make a U-turn at the next traffic light to access Wolfe Neck Road. You can also go slightly farther south on SR 1 and turn left onto Munchy Branch Road, which you follow 0.5 mile, where it turns left and goes another 0.7 mile until it hits Wolfe Neck Road.)
To reach the trail's end from the intersection of SR 1 and SR 1A in Dewey Beach, take SR 1 2.6 miles toward the Tanger Outlet Center (36470 Seaside Outlet Drive, Rehoboth Beach), which will be on your right. A bike/pedestrian path leads from the parking lot of the Tanger Outlet Center (look between the buildings in the middle) to the actual trail.
Great Loop.... Started at Gordon's Pond Parking lot just north of Rehobeth. Rode north on Gordon's Pond Loop, connected via the Cape Henlopen trail past the bath house and onto Rt. 9 to Lewes. Connected with the Junction and Breakwater back to Rehobeth.
Good Surfaces all the way.... was initially concerned with traffic on Rt. 9, but we rode thru a neighborhood parallel to the road and came back onto Rt. 9 just before the Ferry terminal. Don't take Rt. 9 into Lewes, go an extra block and take Savannah Road into Lewes. There's a Dairy Queen on the corner and you can see the Lewes beach right there. Signs for connection to Breakwater Trail are visible right after the little drawbridge.
The end of the trail is a little confusing...the sign is outdated, but if you go left on rt. 273 and turn right on Canal Crossing Road (~200yds) to Church street you'll arrive at Rehobeth Ave. to turn left into town..
The Junction and Breakwater Trail is a great ride. We rode from Rehoboth Beach to Lewes by way of the Gordon Pond Trail and linked up with the Junction and Breakwater Trail for our return trip to Rehoboth Beach. The total loop it about 18 miles. We have done this ride numerous times and each time it is great experience. Both trails are well maintained.
We know the route but for someone who is not familiar with the route this could cause a problem. The connection between the two trails is not well marked. The bike shops in the area provide maps but markings that link the two trails would be very helpful.
First 2 miles is paved the rest in well pack crushed stone. Nice scenery and finish your experience at the Rehoboth board walk. Plenty of restaurants and shops
I really enjoyed riding this trail today. I parked behind the Tanger Outlets and rode to Lewes. Lewes is a quaint town with lots of little shops and restaurants. I then continued on to Cape Henelope State Park. Stopped for a walk on the beach. Then rode back to the other end of the trail in Rehobeth. Make sure you stop for a drink at Revelation Brewery at the end of the trail.
we were in Rehoboth and looked for a trail. There was free parking behind the outlet mall that connected to the trail. rode all the way to Lewes. trail is in excellent condition and has a few street crossings but not difficult to manage. made for a great ride.
Beautiful views of salt marsh, corn fields and wooded areas. The meandering trail was infused with fragrant scents from flowering plants. We started at the outlets and rode into Cape Henlopen Park, completing a 17 mile circuit. I never imagined the natural beauty tucked away on this trail.
This trail takes you through beautiful farmland and woods. Most of the trail is in good shape except a few rocky gravel patches across the salt marsh that were bumpy. Otherwise another spectacular trail.
This extensive trail system was a beautiful surprise that was very smooth and varied yet not hilly. These paths were filled with interesting 1940's War installations and old secrets as well as really lovely natural wildlife settings.
The coast here is so pretty yet still undeveloped and impressive.
What a great thing to do on a rainy day or a sunny one. Can be an all day thing with lunch in Lewis or just a spin. Marvelous!
Took the ferry in cape may with my husband and 2 folding bikes. It's an easy ride to the trail head in lewes , perhaps 2 miles. We went on a week day and traffic was not heavy on and off the trail. The lewes section is newly paved and goes through a new housing development . The rest meanders through marshes and farms and wooded areas . In rehoboth , since it's summer, it was congested with cars and people but we managed to get to dogfishhead pub which was only a short distance from the trail end and one of our main objectives. Had a couple and rode back to the ferry to get back to cape may. Great day! Next time we will try the trail that goes through the park which I hear is quite nice also.
Wonderful. It provides a little bit of everything.
Very nice trail that isn't very crowded and great for runners. It's pretty much a straight away for about 2 miles except when you hit the bridge. Very easy trail for bicyclers and a easy stroll.
I rode this trail for the first time today, didn't even know it existed until this morning. Very nicely done, a little more signage would be nice once you go through the Senator's development though. Very enjoyable ride overall though.
What a great place for biking, running, or hiking. If you are walking, bring your binoculars or a camera, as you are likely to see egrets, turtles, herons, and many of the other species native to or migrating through the area. The Henlopen State Park is beautiful, and though the portion closer to the ocean is the most scenic, this trail conveniently connects the resort towns of Lewes and Rehoboth.
The crushed stone portion (about 2/3 of the trail) is well maintained and very wooded. There is an elevated wooden section a little bit south of the Wolf Neck parking lot where you can stop to rest. Take a few moments to look out over the marsh and take in the natural beauty. This alone is worth the trip.
The paved portion at the Rehoboth end requires negotiating some traffic if you want to go all the way into town. But mostly, it is well marked with a decent shoulder. Plans are in the works for extending the trail to include an off-road section right into Rehoboth (ah, budget constraints have delayed that for now, but it will happen).
At the Lewes end, the trail follows Gills Neck Road for a couple of miles, and though there is no separate bike lane for much of that portion, the speed limit is low and I find the motorists to be quite accommodating and apparently used to seeing a lot of bicyclists. I have ridden this stretch at least 20 times without a single incident.
Upon entering the quaint town of Lewes (Delaware's first settlement in 1631), you have a couple of options, both good ones. If you turn right at the light (Savannah Rd.), it is just a short ride across the canal to Lewes Beach. There are bathrooms there and benches along the sea. If you go straight through the light, the road changes its name a couple of times (Front St., then Pilottown Rd.). You can ride a couple of scenic miles paralleling the canal, and passing the University of Delaware College of Marine Studies, until you reach the end of the road at a large marina, where there are also bathrooms. It's very peaceful and scenic here.
Having retired to the Delaware shore, I have an almost sentimental attachment to the Junction and Breakwater Trail. So I finally decided to post this long overdue review. If you are not from the area, check out this interesting site for more information:
When I think of the Rails-to-Trails concept, for me anyway, this is what it's all about.
next to the trail in Cape Henlopen State Park...
J&B Trail is well-maintained and goes through a fascinating assortment of scenery-- farmland, marine forest, salt marsh, town (at Rehoboth). It's a joy to be able to use it! I love to stand on the bridge over the salt marsh to watch the egrets. :)
This is a great trail for just getting outdoors for a while. The crushed stone trail makes for a very enjoyable walk. Also great for bikers, as my sister uses the trail to commute to work from Lewes to Rehoboth every day in the summer.
We had a beautiful day in mid-November, so my husband and I decided to walk the trail that day. We packed a picnic lunch, which we ate at the picnic tables that are conveniently located at the Wolfe Neck parking area, and then headed out for our walk. Even with it being November, there were still quite a few people using the trail. I'd imagine it gets pretty busy during the summer once all the tourists are in town, so I'll stick to visiting during the off-season.
It was spectacular! Loved the scenery & glad to see so many people using it. Clean, benches, signs, and stop off points. Wonderful trail.
This is a great way to see the beautiful sights of the natural Delaware seashore area. I loved how it was accessable from Big Oaks campground where I was staying at the time, and it really added to the trip. It is a very easy ride, very flat with neat bridges to look off of (as it is a rail- trail). I look foreward to visiting this trail again sometime!
Sept. 2011 - Wow! Delaware finally has a showcase rail trail from beginning to end! I camped at Cape Henlopen State Park (about 2 miles from trailhead), rode wide shoulders past Cape May Ferry and scenic backroad. Next to the Lewes trailhead are off-road smooth paths leading to high school and neighborhoods. Met a steady stream of walkers, runners, bikers and mothers pushing strollers. Other reviews provide good descriptions; the photos "say" it all. Talked to a senior couple who said they ride it every day! - Linda Young, RTC member
For bicyclists this definitely serves as a nice route to get between Lewes and Rehoboth Beach without dealing with automotive traffic. It's also a great running route as all other running in this area puts you out on cement sidewalks or on road shoulders dealing with the traffic. This trail was a nice respite from that and the mostly crushed stone surface was very welcome. The passage alongside farmland and through wetlands and forest was enjoyable.
Built along the path of an old railroad that served as the main access to Rehoboth Beach long before the construction of Route 1, the Junction & Breakwater Rail Trail provides tourists with an excellent opportunity to escape from the bustle of town for a couple hours. The homes and condos of West Rehoboth soon give way to lush forests and open farmlands as one travels northwest towards Lewes. Although a previous reviewer complained that the dense vegetation blocks out the views of adjacent glades, it also provides cool shade from the intense sunlight that is typical of the Delmarva Peninsula's hot, humid summers. Patient users are also guaranteed to see some of the area's abdundant wildlife, while history buffs are encouraged to follow the branch trail to the trailhead at Wolfe Neck, where the Wolfe House, the only remaining home in a small village that once stood on the spot, is being restored, and peek through the trees off the causeway south of Gills Neck, where one of the lookout towers that were used to watch for German U-Boats during World War II, can be seen above the horizon. A short distance to the north, the trail's crushed stone surface is replaced by wide, concrete sidewalk that runs down the median of Gold Eagle Road for about a quarter-mile past a half-finished subdivision of stately homes. It abruptly reverts to crushed stone on the north end of this deveopment, then follows the perimeter of a farmer's field for the final quarter-mile to Gills Neck Road, just south of the historic town of Lewes. In addition to providing a non-motorized link between the area's two most important towns, the Junction & Breakwater Trail also gives tourists a glimpse of what this section of the Delmarva was like in the days before commercial and residential sprawl grew up along Routes 1 and 9. It is recommended to any hiking or cycling enthusiast who plans to visit the region.
Sent review previously in ordinary e-mail because this link was not working. We rode from small parking area just across road from trailhead. Date was approx 8/04/09. Trail surface was excellent over the seven plus miles to ranger's station. There was water available near the trailhead, and also at the station. Scenery was disappointing, mostly peoples backyards, and high foliage five to ten feet from edge of trail. There were quite a few road crossings, but all except two were not busy with traffic. The rangers advised us that we had seen the best part of the trail, and since the temperature was about 90 and the humidity almost the same, we returned to our car, and rode to the trail end opposite the Naval Academy. That view was impressive, but we didn't see a trail leading into the small park under the bridge. We presumed that the trail was the shoulder of the roadway, and since it was now rush hour, vehicular traffic was heavy in all directions. Must comment that one small community about a mile south of ranger station has erected several benches for trail users. We presume that food and drink is available nearby. Good hearted people must live there.
The Delaware Department of Transportation announced that the Junction and Breakwater Trail will be extended to Gills Neck Rd. in Lewes by the end of May 2007. This will finally provide a bypass of busy Route 1.
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