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The Michael Castle Trail offers a scenic 12-mile route along the north shore of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal in northern Delaware. The trail is named after the former governor and US representative whose efforts in Congress helped initiate the project on behalf of interested local trail users.
The C&D Canal opened in 1829, linking the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware River via a 14-mile route through what were once swampy marshlands. Today, the canal continues to be one of the world's busiest, as much of the shipping traffic to and from the Port of Baltimore—one of the largest ports in the United States—makes its way through the channel.
Starting at the eastern end of the trail inDelaware City, trail users can expect to see ships, and the paved trail accommodates such sightseeing with park benches lining the path. Along the route, the trail passes under three bridges, which serve as reminders of the canal's bisecting nature. Trail users looking for a more pastoral experience won't be disappointed, though: Native wildflowers, trees, and creatures of all sizes are also frequent sights.
The only diversion from the canal's edge is a brief arc around the Summit North Marina. (Note that horses are not permitted on this short section.) Just west of the boat slips, the trail emerges into the southern reaches of Lums Pond State Park, which surrounds the largest freshwater pond in the state. You can fish and boat, but not swim, in its waters, and several trails inside the park cater to hikers, bikers, horseback riders, and snowmobilers.
Farther west from Lums Pond State Park, the Ben Cardin C&D Canal Recreational Trail begins at the Delaware/Maryland state line and follows the canal nearly two miles to quaint Chesapeake City.
On the eastern side of the trail, there are two trailheads with parking and restrooms: one in St. Georges under the US 13 bridge, and the other at Biddle Point off Cox Neck Road. To reach the St. Georges trailhead from Interstate 95, take Exit 4 (State Route 7/SR 1), and travel south on SR 1/SR 7 for 4.9 miles. Take Exit 156, and merge onto SR 1/US 13. Go 2.2 miles, and take Exit 152. Turn left onto SR 72/US 13, and after 0.3 mile, turn right onto US 13/SR 7. At 1.4 miles, take a slight right onto N. Main Street. Continue 0.4 mile until N. Main Street reaches the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and the trail.
To reach the Biddle Point trailhead, which also offers horse trailer parking, follow the directions above to Exit 152. Turn left onto SR 72/US 13, and after 0.3 mile, turn right onto US 13/SR 7. At 1 mile, turn left onto Cox Neck Road. After 1.6 miles, turn right at a sign for the C&D Canal Wildlife Area. Follow the road 0.6 mile to the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and the trail.
To reach the Summit Bridge trailhead (just south of Lums Pond State Park), from Middletown, at the intersection of US 301 and SR 299, take US 301 north for 8.5 miles. Turn right onto SR 71, and go 0.8 mile. Turn right onto Old Summit Road, and go 0.4 mile. A small gravel lot will be on your right. Or from Exit 1 or 1A on I-95, merge onto SR 896 (S. College Avenue) south toward Middletown. After 6.1 miles, turn left onto SR 71, and follow the directions above.
We parked in Chesapeake City (under bridge past Schaefer's Canal House) and rode to the trail head. We rode about 6.5 mile East turning around at the Summit North Marina. The entire ride was on a paved surface and very smooth. There was a section that was gravel and flat that hugged the canal, but we stayed on the paved surface. There are a couple of switchbacks on the trail going up or down hill (depending on direction). May need or want to walk part of them and these climbs are the reason for 4 rather than 5 stars). Along our route, there are two good restaurants to get some food or a drink of your choice. Schaefer's and Grain at the Summit North Marina. There was some shaded path along with some in the sun. All in all, an enjoyable ride and we are working our way up to the full trail (Chesapeake City to Delaware City).
While pavement is certainly nice, the views are "okay" from the South Lums Pond entrance to DE City. You've got unchanging canal on one side, and nothing to look at on the other, just a berm of brush - with some exceptions. There is no shade at all, so be forewarned. Did enjoy seeing the various boats, altho was disappointed no ships went thru while I rode. At the Delaware City end, you do encounter nice scenery, with tidal marsh (if that's what you call it), an African-American cemetery, and a park. It was a pleasant jaunt.
This is a well maintained trail along the canal from Delaware City and connects to the Ben Cardin trail which goes to Chesapeake City. Nice views.
The trail is flat along the canal, but there are hills when it leads you inland through the marina then a jaunt through the woods (which is nice and shady) and back down to the canal. There is a newly opened section that is paved. This section avoids going through the non paved wet area. The first time we went we could not figure out how to get through the marina, but asked locals and they were happy to point out the way (minimal trail signage). There is always a prevailing wind which makes more of a workout in one direction. Great trail!
I did my first review in Nov 2013 and the signage was poor at best and now it is June 2017 and not much has changed. I have had a number of talks with DFW Delaware Fish & Wildlife and nothing has changed. Any time you call them they will just tell you there is no MONEY, I think it is a management issue. Today I did this great trail end to end round trip and it was a great day on this trail on a great day. There are no street crossings, a great surface, Park Benches, only three small hills and three great trail heads. The trail is listed in Trail Link as being 9.2 miles but is 12.05 miles and then the Maryland end is 1.8 for a total of 13.85 miles. I am sure that if this trail was managed by Delaware Stare Parks it would be a lot nicer trail. In closing the signage issue is a very big issue , mile markers and a few signs would be a great improvement.
Gravel portion of trail dips beneath Summit Bridge (RT 301) and allows a fairly deep pool of tidal overflow from canal. Whether it was from tidal effect or recent rains, it was deep enough (~12")not to be able to ride thru--about 20 yards long and no way to circumvent. Didn't want to barefoot it, so turned back. Disappointed. Also, concur with other comments about strong winds--canal must generate intensification of surrounding winds--wasn't nearly as bad in parking lot.
Yesterday was the 1st time we rode the trail. We parked in Middletown and rode to Chesapeake City. There's a short section that is not paved but, not a problem. There was a couple of steep hills which we walked the bikes up. Today we parked at St. Georges Bridge and rode to Delaware City. Easy ride but, the wind coming back was brutal. Made it quite difficult. In spite of the wind, we really enjoyed our 2 day ride along the C & D Canal. Looking forward to riding it again.
My wife and I rode the trail Sunday starting in Chesapeake City. There are a couple of sections between Chesapeake City Md. and St. Georges De. that have fairly steep down hill grades that go into a sharp turn at the bottom of the hill. We noticed several young family's with small children riding the trail, which is great, but just wanted to give a heads up parents with small children to walk the bikes down the hill.
With the wonderful unexpected February warmth, we decided to pull out the bikes from their winter hibernation. The Mike Castle Trail did not disappoint! This was a great way to work out some winter kinks! We started out at the Rt 9 Bridge area, parking area just in from the Marina. The trip to Delaware City had a surprise ending! Great job on highlighting the area history in the area at the little cemetery! My only suggestion would be to add a few mile markers. The benches were the perfect place to take a break with the snacks we had brought! Looking forward to coming back again when the weather cooperates!
I parked at the trailhead in Chesapeake City and rode to Delaware City. The round trip mileage was 29.4 miles. It was midweek; except for a few walkers and joggers near both ends it was barely used. I went 10 miles going and coming and didn't see anyone. The trail lacks mile markers and some direction signs would help especially near Summit Bridge. I rode to a dead end and realized I had missed the turn. There are plenty of benches and only one cross street. The views were awesome. I wish I had seen some ships. Kudos to the state for a great job, the surface was smooth with a few minor grades. I did see a car parked on the trail with lights on. I asked the driver if he saw the signs saying "no vehicles": I did not hear his response. Probably could not include it here anyway! First time user-will return.
We are newly retired and new to the sport of biking. We were looking for a trail where we could slowly build up distance without too many challenging hills. The Mike Castle Trail, connecting to the Ben Carden Trail is perfect! These connecting trails have the added benefit of having Delaware City and Chesapeake City restaurants at either end. We enter the trail at mid-points and bike 5 miles to either end of the trail, have lunch, then bike 5 miles back. This gives us a lovely day out balanced with food and exercise. Multiple entry points give us the opportunity to increase that distance. Two of those parking areas have restrooms. Mid-week, the trail is not at all busy. Riding along the canal watching scenery, boats and wildlife is just beautiful. The trail is paved asphalt with the exception of a one-mile stretch of sand and gravel that, even for two newbies, was no problem on our hybrid bikes. My only comment would be that the parking areas could be better signed. It took a bit of searching to find the two we have used so far.
I have been riding this trail for over four years and could not wait to ride end to end. Del Dot has done one great job on this trail. In the thirteen plus miles there is only one cross street and just three minor grades. There are park Benches, three very nice trail heads and a very nice surface. The only thing missing are no mile markers. They did lay down pavement on the last 6 tens of a mile on Oct 24th. Again I want to thank Del Dot for all there hard work.
My wife and I started in Chesapeake City and headed east on the trail. The Maryland trail was paved and on the water. It was a really positive ride. The unpaved area was not a real hassle, there are no markings and there were some hassles with stone piles and rough surface but nothing too bad.
The real complaint we had was with the motor vehicle traffic on the Delaware section of the trail. Near the Delaware park area locals seem to like to drive on the bike path to watch the boats. My wife came on a car suddenly, was forced off the path and went down off her bike in the ditch. Yes there were some ugly words. At another point we are heading down a small hill and come right upon a car driving up the hill. There were words again. This path is about 10 feet wide at this point and a car or a pick up fill up the path. I wish Delaware cared enough to stop this idiocy.
We turned around at that point and called it a day. To bad raelly. We won't be back.
There is a short span from MD to DE not paved. Easy is you don't have slicks.
Nice long paved trail for about 13 miles then into crush stone well packed for about 1 mile, then back pave until you arrive in Chesapeake City Md about 4 miles later. Total distance 17 miles each way. at the 8 and 10 mile marker nice climb to top of hill in both directions. Halfway thru you will encounter the Summit Marina and the Sun & Wind restaurant. Plenty of free parking In Delaware City just follow the canal sidewalk to arrive to the entrance point. Only drawback not much cover, on hot sunny days.
I just led a group on July 30th of 9 bikers over the entire 14 miles, from Chesapeake City to Delaware City. It was great. Yes, there is a 9/10th mile stretch west of the marina that is not yet paved, but all 9 of us had road bikes and no one had any flats or other problems.
I understand that paving will be completed in August. I hope that at some point they put up more signs, especially around the marina. But even as is, we all very much enjoyed the ride.
I rode the trail after reading that it was completed from Chesapeake City to Delaware City However, there is a section (approximately 2 miles which is not really passable on a road bike unless you want to risk a flat and a ton of sand and debris getting in and on your bike. Additionally, several trucks were cruising a section within a half mile of Chesapeake City which is totally unsafe looking for fishing spots at the same time families with children on bikes were also on the trail. The Michael Castle Trail was beautiful, paved with good signage.
Parked at Biddle Point in new lot with portajohns, rode east to beginning of trail then west to Chesapeake City and back. Flat and wide, nicely paved (except a couple of sections), great views of bridges and waterway. Friendly bikers the whole way and nice benches every few hundreds of yards. Only thing missing is shade... thankful for the clouds on this ride. Entrepreneurs should set up cold drink and ice cream stops along the way... Marine stores at Lums Pond and Chesapeake City had no cold treats! Recommend a stop at the Radio Controlled aircraft field at Lums Pond if anyone is flying. Fun!
The Ben Cardin Trail (in Maryland) and the Michael Castle Trail (in Delaware) are both very nice trails that run mostly along the river. They're terrific road-biking trails EXCEPT for the section of the Castle Trail east of Rt. 301 and west of the Marina; that section is unfinished, and is passable only by MTB.
I know there have been lots of requests for signage along the trail. I don't see the need; even if the trails are joined, it's still a short run (probably 12 miles) and is a straight run along the river. Not much need for signage. There have also been requests for signage leading to the trail heads; THAT I agree would be useful, as they are difficult to find.
This is will be a terrific trail once the last section is paved. There are lots of park benches along the trail. Sight distances are generally very good and there are zero street crossings.
I look forward to coming back to this trail once it's completed.
I parked my car in the lot at the St. Georges Trailhead. Bathrooms are there for quick use if you're driving from somewhere far away. There's a map for you to figure out where you are if you're not a super techy type measuring your distance by GPS. The trail itself is super. It's paved from where I entered at the St. Georges Trailhead all the way down to Summit North Marina. I was able to get a decent 7mi ride out of it. There's a big white line in the middle of it so if you have a hard time figuring out what side of the trail you're supposed to be riding on, that helps. There's plenty of parking benches to take breaks too. It looks like they took the time to run conduit to each of them so I'm curious what's next THERE... will it be fountains and water, or internet connected kiosks? :)
I can't ride with a big camera, but the birds are something to look at there, and the bridges are beautiful in their own right. There's plenty of green and plenty of Delaware Brown Water to look at. Big boats, small boats, jet skis, everybody was out there on saturday. I'm looking forward to figuring out these trails and getting to a point where I stop and have lunch at either the Marina, or head east toward Delaware City, or West to Chesapeake City. I did the ride on a mountain bike, which I didn't realize was going to be so grueling - next time, I'm taking my road bike down to do the same ride, but this time I'll probably start at Delaware City at the Fort Delaware parking area. Senator Castle, I would like to thank you for your efforts in making this trail a reality - it's bringing together not only the biking/trail types, but it's also going to help area businesses. I can't wait to see events being held that connect all these cities, their people, and their businesses together and showing how great Delaware can be.
Great trail. Asphalt all the way, there's even a stop for water at the end. Loved it. Will be going back.
Took the trail from Near the Marina just east of Summit bridge; the trail was excellent, I rode it all the way to Delaware City and back, nice ride: what I found lacking were signs to the Marina from Rt. 71, there were no signs to even indicate that the Mike Castle trail was accessible, There is a restaurant near the marina, but no signs indicating parking for those wanting to access the trail from this location. I did note that there was parking available at the top of the hill where the trail started if you were going east on the trail.
Suggestions: Mile markers would be nice, also information on distance to Delaware City or other points east. The same type of info. Would be useful when wanting to go West to Chesapeake City.
If I had not looked at a map showing access points for the trail, I would not have found how to get to the marina access.
Maybe all these things are in the planning, but I felt that I should mention it as a suggestion in case they were not in the plan.
The article in the paper last week indicated that signs would be visible; not so if coming from Middletown going to the Marina access. What about the parking at this location? Where can we park legally?
Good trail to Delaware City and looking forward to going West to Chesapeake City.
On June 15th Governor Markell cut the ribbon on the Delaware City Branch Canal segment of the trail. During the ceremony it was also announced that the remaining unpaved section west of the Summit Marina will be paved by August.
By the way the ferry in Chesapeake City is not running yet this year. Apparently the boat being used has been retired and the City needs to find the funds to purchase a new one.
You can begin or extend your trip from Fort Mott in Salem County New Jersey on days when the Forts Ferry runs - http://www.decitysalemferry.com/
The eastern end of the trail that leads all the way to Fort Delaware State Park is now complete. This last section travels over a short bridge and then winds past a historic cemetery and through wetlands before entering Delaware City. Once in Delaware City, you can either follow the red brick sidewalk or hop onto local town roads to get to the Delaware River.
I started at the Ben Carden C & D canal in Chesapeake City the trail connects with Michael Castle at DE state line there is a Jersey Barrier but there is a gap for bikes to get through. Most of the trail is paved but there is about a 2 mile stretch that is dirt and gravel still decent if you have a cross trainer or mountain bike. Trail stops before you get to Delaware City so I exited the trail at Biddle Point and took Cox Neck Road into Delaware City and stopped at Crabby Dicks and Lewenskys before heading back. Lewinsky's has a band on Sundays.
Paving was completed at Guthrie Run last week, there the area still needs to be landscaped but the gap between the 301 Bridge and Chesapeake city is now closed.
My wife and I just rode roundtrip from Delaware City to Chesapeake City and loved it .As mentioned in previous reviews the trail is not complete. Maybe the politicians should stop slapping each other on their backs and telling themselves what a great job they did and finish the trail. My one complaint and that's why I only gave it 4 stars is the complete lack of signage. What would it cost to do this. Not much.
This was just the right length for us, 56 and 60 we bike two to three times a year. This trail is well maintained, takes you along the shore, through a nice meadow, some woods and is mostly flat with a few brief hills. Great parking with restrooms and there is a place to stop (just passed the marina) and get lunch or a drink although we didn't.
Great trail. Asphalt the whole way makes for easy peddle and good timing. First time for me and I really enjoyed the views of the canal and boats. Nice breeze kept things comfortable. Will do again
This trail became my new favorite place this summer. I started by riding my mountain bike, but actually switched to my rode bike by the end of the summer. I am able to get a nice 16 mile ride by staying on the flat, paved section between the marina and Delaware City. It is nice to just put my head down and ride. Unfortunately, this entire trail has two unpaved/unfinished areas. It has not been completely finished between the end of the trail and Delaware City. What the heck are you waiting for? There is also an unpaved section between the marina and Chesapeake City. You can easily ride a mountain bike on this section, but not a road bike. Once again, what are you waiting for? Once the entire trail is paved its going to be great for a road bike. Traffic is crappy in New Castle county. How great it will be to have a non-stress stretch of trail to ride on and do a ride of decent length. And for you runners - the distance between Aqua Sol and Schaffer's Canal house is actually 6.2 miles. Its perfect for a one way 10K. I agree that the signage is poor between the marina and Aqua Sol. Fix that please.
What a great area to ride bikes, walk, and fish. I can't wait for the trails to be completely finished so there are no breaks in the path. Hopefully the piers used for fishing can be fixed and kept up, also. Maybe even add a couple more.
Castle trail is complete from Chesapeake City to Delaware City. Awesome trail, with two hill challenges, one at a marina and another at a water runoff. Both are short and easy to ride. Would recommend this trail to all levels. A plus, your return or half way point is at Chesapeake City, and a great watering hole pub is right there to replenish your spent nourishment.
we rode this and were very pleased ..... paved and no traffic crossings for some good 6-7 miles .... the only issue we had was the marina and how to get around there (absolutely no signage which is a pity) -- (make a left and go behind the marina office, follow the street into a parking lot for a restaurant/pool club and go through their parking lot and you can pick up the trail) ---- except for this section all was paved ..... on this end the trail ends in another mile or two after the marina, but "continues" on a rocky/dirt trail (from what the locals say) into maryland --- supposedly a future project that will connect with another trail in maryland (hence the more potential from my title) .... we saw cars, though, on this dirt road and we don't do cars, so we turned around ..... the other way ends just short of delaware city with plans to extend it in the future (more potential) ... all in all, very pretty riding along the water, the closer to delaware ciy it got even prettier, we saw a big barge as we rode going under the various bridges .... we liked that we could ride without road crossings every mile or so .... we'd do it again if the opportunity presented itself (also note for those interested in the economic upsides of trails, afterwards we ate in delaware city, we would never have stopped or ate there except for the trail)
It is now possible to bike from near Delaware City the whole way to Chesapeake City, MD, but it's not smooth sailing the whole way. The section around the Summit Marina goes inland and there are some rather tough hills. Between the marina and the Maryland line there is a lot of unpaved path. It's not difficult to ride but there are some loose stones. There is one section that requires going up a steep hill away from the canal and then down another steep hill. I walked my bike both ways. The hills were quite rocky and uneven. Aside from those issues it is a beautiful ride, although there is very little shade. The section into Delaware City needs to be completed (PLEASE), and the remaining unpaved sections need to be finished. Then it will really be an amazing place to bike.
This is not a review as much as it is an update. It looks like the trail will be done into Chesapeake City by early fall, the Chesapeake City end is almost done. By the way Chesapeake City has done a great job on there end. It looks like on the south end .9 miles is paved and Del Dot is working on another 1.3 miles but there is still a gap of about 1.1 mile that I do not see any work being done. The good news is that in early November there is a 1/2 Marathon to be run from Biddle Point to Chesapeake City so I would say that this section will be finished. If you live in the Wilmington Area you need to do this trail. It is now 9.25 miles with no road crossings. There are two trail heads with Bathrooms and picnic tables. When this trail is complete it will be one of the very best trails in the mid Atlantic States. In closing it is hard to think that there is no work being done to get this trail in to Delaware City. I am not sure if it is Delaware City or DelDot Not getting it done
Keeps getting better with its expansion every year.A definite 5 Star in my book.
We dropped in at St. George's and rode to Chesapeake City. Great ride. The only area that was not paved was a section from the 896 Bridge to the area of the Maryland line. Great flat smooth ride. Looking forward for it be entirely completed this fall.
Here is the latest on the C&D Canal Trail construction:
I visited this trail today and enjoyed it thoroughly though I did not walk the entire trail. The scenery was amazing as well as the walk and birdwatching. It is a very beautiful and relaxing place to spend a day.
Although not as well-known as rail trails, a number of greenways have been constructed in recent years along former or active canals. Delaware's Michael Castle Trail is on the latter category, following the north shore of the very active Chesapeake & Delaware Canal. Currently about 5 miles long, the state-of-the-art paved trail currently stretches from a point near Summit Bridge, passing under a railroad trestle and spans that carry Routes 1 & 13 across the canal, before ending west of Delaware City. The trail is suitable for cyclists, hikers, inline skaters and parents pushing young kids in strollers. A solid white line painted down the center divides the trail into 2 lanes, a trailhead with a large parking lot and public restrooms has been built immediately west of the Route 13 bridge in St. Georges and numerous benches have been installed to allow tired travelers to stop and take a rest.
However, the trail's most notable feature is the diverse array of sites that users will be treated to. The Chesapeake & Delaware Canal is a major shipping lane into the port of Baltimore, meaning that large freighters and other ships can frequently be seen plying its route. Smaller, recreational craft, including yachts, sailboats and jet skis, also use the canal, especially in summer, and despite the artificial origins of the waterway, it is also teeming with wildlife, including numerous birds, fish and box turtles. Finally, the 3 highway and one railroad bridge that span the canal are engineering marvels and a site to behold.
The only thing I find puzzling is that the trail, which will eventually be extended west to Chesapeake City, MD and east to Delaware City, is apparently not part of the East Coast Greenway. Plans instead call for the megatrail, which will extend from Maine to Florida when complete, to zigzag through from New Castle through heavily suburbanized areas to Newark, then continuing into MD. Although I understand that planners want the ECG to pass as many communities as possible, I think it's a shame that long-distance users may get to miss out on this real gem of a trail that follows one of the country's oldest, active canals.
Nice trail, nice surface, and its always nice being along the water. And many, many benches for resting if needed. We rode the trail on Wednesday around noon and it was EMPTY. saw just a couple of other riders as we did the roundtrip.
A couple questions/curiousities maybe someone can answer...in many places there were sets of white pipes sticking up about a foot out of the ground. Any idea what these are? And, on probably half of the asphalt cutouts where the benches were, there was a 4ft by 4ft section of newer asphalt next to the bench that had obviously replaced older asphalt. What gives? I've posted pics in case u r curious...
This bike trail is an excellent clean place to get a great bike ride. Excellent paved black top trail along the C&D Canal has beautiful scenery of the boats and wave runners in and out of the canal. If you'd like bring a fishing rod to do some good fishing off one of the fishing piers. Restrooms and parking on site too. Very nice
I biked from St. Georges to the eastern end of the paved trail. I found that rough grading had been done along the surface of the dikes impounding fresh water ponds. The grading was very rough. It was only suitable for the most intrepid of mountain bikers. However, I walked my bike the full length of the graded path to Cox Neck Road. It was a long walk. However, I saw where the grading had been done to intercept the rough trail with the Delaware City Branch Canal Trail.
They are making good progress on completing the connection with the eastern end of the trail with Delaware City. It will be a great ride when surfaced.
Nice trail with 6+ miles of smooth newly paved bike-trail going from the Marina near the Summit Bridge nearly to the Rt 9 bridge. Nice trail with several points of interest as you pass under the Rt 13, Rt 1 and Railroad bridges. It was a nice afternoon-evening ride of 12+ miles round trip. Beware of hot sunny days as the trail has a clear view of the canal without much morning/afternoon shade.
When fully completed the trail will stretch from Delaware City on the Delaware Bay to Chesapeake City Maryland with a total length of about 13 miles.
The funds were available to convert miles of whats
been gravel from its begining to asphalt so people in
spandex with funny helmets HARDLY EVER USE IT!This
money would have been better spent elsewhere and
now there are strips of petroleum based asphalt to
release its residue into the canal with every rain.Surely
a school district could have used the money!
If you live in the greater Wilmington area you need to ride or walk this trail. It is posted as 6.2 miles and stopping at North Summit Marina but it is now open though the Marina for an other 2 plus miles. It looks like the problems with the Marina are behind us. You can go all the way to Chesapeake City it is just over five miles and it is not paved, when I ride this section I do it on my very old Mt Bike as it is a little rough. This trail when finished will be a Gem as it will only have one street crossing between Delaware City and Chesapeake City 14 plus miles. There are two trail heads now and a couple more planed. It is a flat ride except though the Marina. Bring sun screen as there is very little shady. The view is great and you just might see an Ocean going Ship on the canal. There are park benches but no mile markers. As of 7/2/14 work is being done on the Delaware City end and it it looks like there is some work about to star Between Summit Bridge and the Maryland line. It dose not look like there is any work being done in Maryland. There is lots of parking under St Georges Bridge.
Summit Marina has not blocked cyclists from accessing the Castle Trail. If you wish to access the Castle Trail BY BICYCLE you may do so, you just can't park your car there. If you are arriving by car to access the Castle Trail you must park at either the St. Georges lot or Biddle Point lot. Parking at Summit Marina is for patrons of the marina or Aqua Sol restaurant. Here's a link for the trail map including parking locations: http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/parks/Information/Documents/First%20State%20Trails%20and%20Pathways/Maps/C-and-D%20Canal%20Trail.pdf
It's a smooth, paved trail along the C&D canal. Very pleasant, peaceful. You may be able to spot a bald eagle or two along the way. You'll also pass under the railway lift bridge and if you're lucky enough you'll see it in the lowered position with a train crossing over the C&D canal. The trail is busy on weekends in the warmer months but during weekdays there's not a lot of activity. In the winter months it's virtually deserted and if it's cold enough you'll see lots of ice floating on the canal. This trail is quite a treasure!
The Summit Marina has posted signs at the entrance road prohibiting access to the trail! Furthermore, they have blocked the road to the parking area with a closed gate and marina equipment. I called the Dept. of Natural Resources about the closure, and I was told this must be resolved between the marina operator and Natural Resources Executives.
I suggest persons who usually parked in the paved lot at the western end of the trail between the canal and the marina, above the marina, contact Delaware Dept. of Natural Resources with your concerns.
My wife and I rode the trail on May 2, 2014. We started at St. Georges (bathrooms were open),went to the eastern end of the trail (about 3 miles), then turned back and went to west to the Summit North Marina (about 6 miles.) The trail was smoothly paved and fairly level and adjacent to the D&C canal. There were frequent benches along the trail and picnic tables at the St Georges and Briddle Point parking lots.
The ride was great, but there is evidently a dispute between the Park Service and the Summit North Marina that makes continuing west of the marina difficult. I hope this is settled soon.
I just got off the phone with both DELDOT and Delaware Fish and Wildlife. The Deldot turned the Keys for the restrooms on 4/24/14 and DFW turned them over to the supervisor on 4/25/14. now let see how long it takes for DFW to open them.
I did this trail 4/22/14 and the restrooms are still locked. I called Delaware Fish & Wildlife who manages this trail and was told by them that DELDOT. has not turned over the keys to them. Called DELDOT and of course was told it was DFWs fault. called back to DFW and they told me that a Mr Chris Costelo of Deldot was the problem. It is just to bad that it has been over seven months and we can not get these restrooms open. Oh by the way this is a great trail and will be even better when it is completed. It has it all a great surface and one great view from end to end and some day it will have restroom that are open. It is only a few miles form Wilmington and has a trail head just off of rt 13.
I have used this trail on several other occasions and recently the bathrooms have been open, but today they were locked!!!! Since there are no gas stations or convenience stores nearby, this was a HUGE problem for the females!
I hope they are better about unlocking the bathrooms in the future!
We recently started using this several times a month...it is a GREAT walk with great views and benches for resting if needed, however the bathrooms are and always have been locked up tight...what is the point of having them there if no one can use them!
This trail when it is done will be one of the best trails in the Mid Atlantic States but it is no wheres near done. Nine mile of the sixteen miles are done. I would give the surface 5 stars and the view 5 stars but it needs a lot of work. At this point there is no signage and none of the Rest Rooms at the Trail Heads are open and nobody I talked to had any idea why. Where the trail makes it,s way around the North Summit Marina it really needs a few signs. There are nice benches all along the trail and very nice trail heads. The best parts of this trail are no cross roads, no grade to speak of and a great view of the canal.
This trail is wonderful but only 6 miles is completed, and the bathrooms are locked! Also, finding the parking lot was tough.
Directions from the north to St. Georges Trailhead and Parking:
Take Route 13 South.
Right before crossing the St. George's Bridge, bear right onto road to the right of the bridge (Google labels it as Main Street but I saw no sign). Drive down past the old Commodore Macdonough School.
Immediately after the school turn right onto Kirkwood St. Georges Road. It currently says "Closed" but go around the sign and immedaately bear left onto a gravel road with brown signs for the Wildlife area.
Proceed under the bridge on the gravel road and you will see a paved road appear on your right. That is the parking area. That parking area is right about the middle of the 6 miles that are completed as of October 2013.
Recently, I drove to the Summit North Marina and found they parked a large sailboat in the access road to the trail. The owners of the boat told they had to put in for emergency repairs. However, the gate spoken of below was open if you could get by the boat blocking the road. A Bike or walker could do ok. I emailed the Delaware Dept of Natural with a compaint about the gate blocking the road to the trail past the marina.
The Castle Trail is administered by the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife. They produced the maps at the St. George's and Biddle Point kiosks. I could not find the current map on-line howerver. They did email me a old map. The Google maps in the satelite view shows the trail in the graded construction phase though.
I parked in the marina parking lot. (Previously, I went on a Saturday and the lot was full.) After taking with the boat owners, I walked up the hill past the Aqua Sol Restaurant. There is a another large parking lot west of the restaurant and a gate at the far end of the lot. That gate leads to the western section of the paved trail. I walked down the hill and through a steep switch-back to the canal bank. The paved trail continues west to another gate. I took the gravel road to the right and up the hill to a paved parking area on Old Summit Road. I suggest you check the map for this road, also shown as route 404. This road is just off Delaware route 71, Red Lion Road. It would be possible to park at that location and bike the total trail from west to east. The mountain bikers have a field day on the gravel roads that parallel the canal beyound the gates. Also, it is possible to bike to Chesapeake City on those gravel roads if you choose.
I then walked along the shoulder of Red Lion Road past Lum's Pond State Park back to the Summit North Marina parking lot. It was a really nice walk. This trail has really great potential for use in all seasons!
I rode the eastern leg of the trail yesterday and absolutely loved it. That being said, it took me 45 minutes longer than it should have to find an entrance onto the trail.
I followed buckeyegrrl's advice and attempted to park at the Summit North Marina entrance: "Upon entering Summit North Marina, one may park in the parking lots immediately to the right, or one may continue straight on a dirt/gravel road up a hill (water on the right) where there is another parking lot on the left and the trail begins at the edge of the lot, through the woods and down a steep grade to the canal." Finding the dirt/gravel road blocked with a barrier that read "Authorized Vehicles only", I entered the SNM office and was told that I could neither access that further parking lot nor park in the lots immediately to the right. I was directed to get back on rt 71 and take what I can only assume was Howell School Rd to access the "other" parking lot. Unfortunately, this road is completely blocked by construction so I was detoured back out to the basic area of St. Georges. Finding myself that far east, I decided to access the trail from Battery Park which is listed on this trail's description as the eastern trail end. Upon reaching Battery Park, I did not see any signs of a trail and was told by the Parks & Rec staff that I needed to leave Battery Park / Fort Delaware area, get back on the main road, and look for a sign that said "Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Wildlife Area" to the left. I finally found it as a left hand turn onto a long gravel road for which the sign is facing the opposite direction... So, here are my revised instructions for easy access to the eastern edge of the trail:
Take rt 13 and turn onto Cox Neck Rd. If approaching from the south, Cox Neck will be on your right immediately after you cross the bridge. If approaching from the north, Cox Neck will be on your left right before you go over the bridge. Then look for a brown sign on your right that reads "Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Wildlife Area." Take the long gravel road out to a large, newly paved parking lot with restrooms that are likely always locked: this is Biddle Point. From here, it's a beautiful paved 5.26 mi ride out to Summit North Marina along the C&D Canal. There was plenty of wildlife and nature along the way, as well as benches with beautiful views every .5 mi.
It looks like you could probably get a longer ride by going up a steep hill at the Summit North Marina end which I can only assume leads back to their parking lot, at which point you could ride up the other hill to Aqua Sol and access the trail head from the far end of the lot past them. However, as other posters have noted, this trail will only lead a few short miles before it dead ends at the construction on Summit Bridge.
All in all, it was a worthwhile trip and I look forward to returning.. but man, what a pain to find. A few more signs pointing to "C&D Canal Trail" or "Michael Castle Trail" would be helpful, too.
I ride the C&D Canal Trail frequently. It is what every one say about it. I might add a pleasant side trip is to Delaware City by road. Take the gravel access road with the parking lot between St. Georges's and the eastern end of the trail to Cox Neck Road. Cox Neck Road has bike lanes on both side and makes a nice safe ride into Delaware City. Turn right on Route 9 then take the last left before the drawbridge to ride along the water front. If you go directly through town, you will pass older homes in this old historic canal town.
I will add that I spoke with the Delaware City city manager about their section of the trail. He showed be the route along the branch canal past the restored black veterans cemetery. They expect to finish their section in 2014.
I feel one must keep hydrated and Crabby Dick's has really tasty Yuengling drafts, and etc. A Boat trips to Fort Delaware on Pea Patch Island is an interesting side trip. I have biked around Fort DuPont when the trails are dry.
Not only is Delaware City nice, another side trip is to Lum's Pond State Park. Ride to west end of the trail. Turn right and go up the hill and through the marina out to Route 71-Red Lion Road. There is a couple of steep climbs here. Turn left. Red Lion Road has wide paved bike paths on both side. Lum's Pond State Park has camping facilities among other things.
I consider the C & D bike path to be a world class path. The C & D canal is one of the coolest places on the East Coast and the bike path is a perfect way to experience it.
The details about the construction phase of this trail are not updated on the DNREC website. The trail is paved from just west of Route 9 bridge going west to Summit North Marina, where it breaks off and continues from the far end of a parking lot behind the Aqua Sol restaurant. The trail going west from Aqua Sol is paved for a very short distance, then becomes dirt and gravel again. As of today, August 17th, 2013, one cannot bike further west than the Summit Bridge as the bridge is under construction and the trail is blocked. There are two trail heads on the eastern end of the trail at Biddle's Point and St. Georges which afford more direct access to the trail. The trail is not marked from the Summit North Marina entrance. I was only able to find it by asking the surly attendant of the marina office. Upon entering Summit North Marina, one may park in the parking lots immediately to the right, or one may continue straight on a dirt/gravel road up a hill (water on the right) where there is another parking lot on the left and the trail begins at the edge of the lot, through the woods and down a steep grade to the canal. To access the western side of the trail, upon entering Summit North Marina, one must turn right at a road that separates two parking lots, with the marina office on the left. Follow the road past Aqua Sol to a deserted parking lot and look for yellow pillars which mark the continuation of the trail, with another steep descent to the canal. Enjoy!
We biked from the access under the Rte. 13 bridge east to where the trail currently ends. About 1/2mile from Rte 9 bridge. Trail is newly paved, 6ft wide with an unobstructed view of the C and D Canal. There is a park bench every 1/2 mile to sit and enjoy the view. The trail sides have been planted with native wild flowers, which made it quite lovely.
We then biked west to the marina just west of the Rte. 896 bridge. This was the longer ride and was equally well paved and maintained.
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