The rock climbing wall at Alapocas Run State Park, Wilmington, Delaware, USA in the colorful fall

8 Best Fall Hikes In Delaware

Hiking is a great way to lower stress levels, improve cardiovascular fitness, and help maintain an active lifestyle. Hiking trails in Delaware offer a historic venture into the past while exercising alongside marshland and wildlife preserves, that are particularly beautiful in autumn. With its changing leaves and crisp weather, these parks and trails are some of the best for experiencing Delaware's fall foliage. 

Junction and Breakwater Trailhead

Junction & Breakwater Trail at Cape Henlopen State Park, Lewes, Delaware
Junction & Breakwater Trail at Cape Henlopen State Park, Lewes, Delaware.

The Junction and Breakwater Trailhead spans from Gills Neck Road in Lewes to Rehoboth Beach. The trail is a peaceful trek accessible from multiple entry points and is just under six and a half miles.

The trail winds through forests of colorful autumn trees with spectacular coastal wetland views and ends at Holland Glade, seen from the 80-foot wooden railroad bridge originally constructed for the Junction and Breakwater Railroad. 

In addition to views of the glade, hike to Delaware's famous World War II observation towers, Observation Tower 7 at historical Fort Miles in Cape Henlopen State Park. Climb spiral steel stairs to reach the three observation levels and the roof. Other historical attractions in the park include the Fort Miles Museum and Fort Miles Artillery Park.

The colorful Deleware foliage along Junction and Breakwater Trails creates a magical stroll through the woods.

Gordons Pond Trail

Gordons Pond Cape Henlopen Delaware at sunset
Gordons Pond Cape Henlopen Delaware at sunset.

The Gordons Pond Trail is an easy straight trail connecting Lewes and Rehoboth Beach. Access the trail from either the Lewes or Rehoboth parking areas. Begin in the north at Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes at the Herring Point parking area or in the south at the Gordon Pond parking area in Rehoboth Beach.

The 5.2-mile trail includes access to a 900-acre saltwater Gordons Pond. From the pond, enjoy bird watching for waterfowl such as osprey, eagles, and piping plovers on the observation deck. Stop and marvel at the tranquil elevated overlooks of the salt marsh with crisp cool autumn air. 

Prime Hook Wildlife Refuge

View from the boardwalk portion of the trail, blue sky and framed by fragmite at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Delaware
View from the boardwalk of the trail at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Delaware

On the shore of Delaware's Bay is Prime Hook Wildlife Refuge. With 10,144 acres of protected wildlife, the refuge is a sanctuary created to provide shelter and protection for over 245 species of migratory birds traveling the Atlantic Flyaway.

Hike trails through marshes, swamps, and vibrant fall-colored forests to reconnect with nature.  At the same time, hiking witnessed different plants and animal species, including over 300 types of birds. Visit the refuge on the first Saturday of every month to gather with fellow birdwatchers on a bird-watching walk.

In addition to birds, the refuge is home to unique native plants, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals.

Explore displays at the visitor center for access to information kiosks, restrooms, and a picnic pavilion. Walk along 7.5 miles of hiking trails of varying distances and degrees of difficulty with color-coded trail markers leading the way.

The Blue Goose Trail, Dike Trail, Pine Grove Trail, and Boardwalk Trail are designated foot traffic trails for easy meandering through marshes and wildlife observation areas.

The Prime Hook Wildlife Refuge is a stroll through wildfowl haven among luscious vegetation.

Burton's Island Loop Trail

Trail along Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
The trail along Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

Burton's Island Loop Trail is a short trail around the island that offers views of the inland bays, salt marsh, and wildlife inside Delaware Seashore State Park.

In the fall, the island's cooler weather and magnificent colorful foliage make the trail ideal for a stroll. Access to the trail and parking lot are on the north side of the Indian River Marina.

To start the trail, cross the causeway onto the island. The 1.3-mile trail consists of raised boardwalks over the salt marshes, packed earth in the forest, and sandy surfaces. Along the way, spy horseshoe crabs, osprey, and other marsh wildlife such as turtles. 

From the trailhead, walk over to the island's nature preserve. Hike at the end of the day to view a spectacular sunset over the coast.

With varying trail surfaces, views of the Indian River, and Rehoboth Bay, the Burton's Island Loop Trail is a relaxing outdoor experience.

Georgetown Lewes Trail

Entrance to Georgetown Lewes bike trail.
Entrance to Georgetown Lewes bike trail.

The Georgetown Lewes Trail is a 13-mile out-and-back trail of scenic woodlands. As the name suggests, the trail is near Lewes, Delaware.

The trail follows the rail bed of the former Delaware Coast Line Railroad, providing pedestrians, cyclists, dog walkers, and families opportunities for quality time together while being active.

Start on Gills Neck Road and follow along the eastern end of the trail at the Lewes Public Library for restrooms, benches, a water-filling station, and an informational kiosk. A community garden, public art, and flowers create a unique visual experience.

While enjoying the scenery, signs along the trail depict the history of the local railroad. Stop for ice cream at Hopkins Creamery for a refreshing treat. 

Hikers and bikers can access the trail within residential and subdivisions. The trail ends near Cool Spring, Deleware in a residential area and farm fields.

The colorful fall foliage along the trail provides a scenic backdrop for an easy hike for every age and experience. 

Holts Landing State Park 

View from Holts Landing State Park of Calhoun Landing
View from Holts Landing State Park of Calhoun Landing.

Holts Landing State Park is home to beautiful landscapes with a view of Indian River Bay. Visit the park in the fall when the scenery shifts from green to warm colorful hues.

Enjoy a picnic among grassy knolls and shady trees or fire up the grill at a pavilion for a warm meal. 

The Seahawk Nature Trail is a 1.3-mile loop that begins on a boardwalk across the salt marsh. After the boardwalk, the trail's crushed stone surface leads hikers through forests and ends near a playground and picnic pavilion.

While hiking the Sea Hawk Trail, observe wildlife in borrow pits, perfect for spying turtles, ducks, and other waterfowl.

Head to Holts Landing State Park in the fall for a quiet stroll through nature among colorful foliage.

Prickly Pear Trail Loop

A pathway to the shore at the Delaware seaside with a view of a lighthouse.
A pathway to the shore at the Delaware seaside with a view of a lighthouse.

Prickly Pear Trail loop is a looped path in Delaware Seashore State Park. The 3.5-mile loop gets its name from the prickly pear-shaped cacti found along the sandy portion of the trail.

The loop leads hikers through scenic forests and open meadows on an easy path suitable for all skill levels. Connecting trails to the loop allows hikers to access other trails for a longer hike. 

A paved connector trail on the north side of the trail provides direct access to State Route 1 where hikers are treated to views of Beach Cove, an inlet of Indian River Bay. On the southern part of the trail, the Fred Hudson Road Trail leads to Cedar Neck Road in Ocean View.

Parking is available at the trailhead on Hickman Road in Ocean View, east of Cedar Neck Road.

The Prickly Pear Trail Loop is well maintained, well marked, and a scenic peaceful hike.

Alapocas Woods Trail

The rock climbing wall at Alapocas Run State Park, Wilmington, DelawareThe rock climbing wall at Alapocas Run State Park, Wilmington, Delaware
The rock climbing wall at Alapocas Run State Park, Wilmington, Delaware.

The Alapocas Woods Trail in Alapocas Run State Park is a moderate hike on a packed dirt and rocky path through the woods. 

Park near the baseball field on Alapocas Drive to access the 1.8-mile looped trail. Hikers are led through the forest along Brandywine Creek, a creek bubbling with crystal-clear water. Continue along the path to a picnic spot.

While hiking branch off onto the connecting trail, the Pawpaw Loop, to see the largest North American fruit, the Pawpaw. Additional connecting trails such as the Upper Reach Trail and the Bancroft Trail entice hikers to extend the hike through the woods.

After hiking, visit the Blue Ball Barn for a bit of Delaware history. For families with young children stop by Can-Do Playground to climb and swing. While at the playground, read fairy tale stories on the Storybook Trail, a trail that loops around the playground.

The Alapocas Woods Trail is a serene walk through the woods with connections to additional adventures.

Final Thoughts

Delaware is a small state with natural charm. Fall in Delaware is a beautiful contrast of crimson and gold leaves against crystal blue skies. As the weather cools, the air is filled with a crisp breeze. The fall season in Delaware is a cause for celebration with festivals and delicious food. 

Delaware's historical parks welcome visitors to trails that range from sandy to rocky and provide opportunities for bird watching or taking a breath of fresh air.Hiking in the fall in Delaware is a visual delight and welcomes hikers to explore the trails.


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