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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.
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