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The Michael N. Castle C&D Canal Trail offers a scenic 12.4-mile route along the north shore of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal in northern Delaware. The popular trail is named after the former governor and US representative whose efforts in Congress helped initiate the project on behalf of local trail users.
The C&D Canal opened in 1829, linking the Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware River via a 14-mile route across the Maryland–Delaware pen-insula through what was once swampy marshland. 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.
Delaware City is home to two state parks: Fort DuPont State Park (which served as a military base from the Civil War through World War II) and Fort Delaware State Park (popular with birders and accessible via ferry). Along the paved Michael Castle Trail, benches accommodate trail users who wish to watch the ships in the canal. On the edge of Delaware City, the trail also passes the parklike African Union Church Cemetery, which features historical displays.
Heading southwest from Delaware City, the trail passes under three bridges. Nature enthusiasts can be on the lookout for native wildflowers, trees, and wildlife, including deer, turkeys, and raccoons. Birders will enjoy spotting rarer species, such as peregrine falcons, pied-billed grebes, and bald eagles. The only diversion from the canal’s edge—and the only exception to the trail’s otherwise flat grade—is a brief arc and somewhat steep climb around the Summit North Marina. (Note: If riding in the reverse direction, west to east, wayfinding around the marina and up Summit Point can prove challenging.) Horses are not permitted on this short section.
Just west of the boat slips, the trail passes the southern reaches of Lums Pond State Park, which surrounds the largest freshwater pond in the state. Here you can fish and boat but not swim. Several trails inside the park cater to hikers, bikers, horseback riders, and snowmobilers. (Note that the Michael Castle Trail is not open to motorized vehicles.)
From the trailhead south of Lums Pond State Park on Old Summit Road, head 3.4 miles west to reach the terminus of the Michael Castle Trail and the beginning of the Ben Cardin C&D Canal Recreational Trail, at the Delaware–Maryland state line. The Ben Cardin C&D Canal Recreational Trail follows the canal nearly 2 miles to quaint Chesapeake City, Maryland. Note that when going westward past the South Lums Pond parking area, the trail has steep areas that may be difficult for wheelchair users.
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 (which also offers horse trailer parking and is 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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