January 19, 2021
By Laura Scharle, Interpretive Programs Manager at Delaware Seashore State Park
While most visitors flock to the Delaware Seashore State Park region to enjoy the undeveloped beaches and fish the inlet, the state park trails in the area are a quiet escape from the bustling beaches. There are over 9 miles of trails to be explored between Delaware Seashore, Holts Landing, and the Assawoman Canal. Most trails have digital trail guide information posted at the trailhead. Pets are welcomed on all trails, as long as they are on a 6-ft leash, picked up after, and remain on the trail. Check out these trails on your next outdoor adventure in the Delaware Seashore Region!
The 1-mile loop on Burton Island has a lot to offer. Tucked behind the busy Indian River Marina, many people don’t even realize this trail exists. The trail begins by crossing the causeway onto the island. It then meanders through maritime forest and salt marsh habitats. The trail itself is a combination of boardwalks, packed earth, and sandy trail surfaces. Directions to the trailhead can be found here. Hot tip: if hiking from May – September, bring the bug repellant and check for ticks when you get home.
About 3.5 miles south of the Indian River Inlet is the Fresh Pond Tract, a parcel of land with over 700 acres managed by Delaware Seashore State Park. With new beach communities popping up all over this area, Fresh Pond is an oasis of public land, offering a 5-mile trail system open for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Fresh Pond can be accessed from Route 1, just north of Fred Hudson Road, or at the end of Hickman Rd in Ocean View. Pedestrian access from Fred Hudson Rd is also available.
The Assawoman Canal Trail is located in the town of Ocean View, just inland from Bethany Beach. The trail is a crushed stone surface and offers an enjoyable walk along the historic Assawoman Canal, connecting several beach communities with pedestrian and biking access. The first phase of trail construction (1 mile long) is complete, and the trail will be extended in the future. Directions to the trailhead can be found here. There is also an ADA-accessible kayak launch located at the trailhead, providing paddling access to the Assawoman Canal.
As you travel a little further inland, you’ll find a hidden gem, Holts Landing State Park. Situated on the south shore of Indian River Bay, this park has ample water access for fishing, crabbing, kayaking, and boating, but it also has two hiking trails. The Sea Hawk Trail is a 1.3-mile loop that begins with an expansive, 200-yard boardwalk across the salt marsh. The rest of the trail is a crushed stone surface and traverses through the forested areas of the park, finishing up near the playground and picnic pavilion.
A highlight of the Sea Hawk Trail is observing wildlife in the freshwater borrow pits. Back in the early 1960s, Holts Landing was owned and operated by the Highway Department, where a few sections were excavated for sediment to be used in various construction projects.Today, these borrow pits provide excellent freshwater habitat, where painted turtles, wood ducks, and other waterfowl species have been spotted.
If you’re looking for more mileage, extend your hike by 0.75 miles by hiking the Sea Horse Trail. Directions to the trailhead can be found here.