Connecting the Dots
The cliffs of Alapocas//Joe del Tufo
Northern Delaware Greenway Trail
Length: 10.4 miles
Great for: Cycling, walking
Running from Bellevue State Park near the Delaware River to Alapocas Run State Park and into the city of Wilmington, the Northern Delaware Greenway Trail is made up of a variety of properties managed by different entities. It passes through and near some of the Wilmington area’s most beloved landmarks and cultural attractions, including the Bellevue estate, once home to William du Pont, Rockwood Museum and its Victorian mansion, and the Brandywine Zoo.
Because the greenway winds through suburban, urban and oasis-like park settings, it is popular among commuters who work in North Wilmington or in the city. Those who want to exercise are assured a payoff. The trail, which is mostly a mix of asphalt and crushed stone, is on the edge of the Piedmont, which has rolling hills and rock formations. “The greenway is incredible, whether you’re biking, walking or running,” says Beverly Dennett of North Wilmington. Depending on the trail, you’ll encounter some heart-pounding inclines and serious curves. Novices may need to push their bikes up some hills—especially the steep trails above the Alapocas cliffs.
For families and weekend walkers, there are flat areas, especially along the Brandywine, around Rock Manor Golf Course and by the restored Blue Ball Barn in Alapocas Run State Park.
Tré Sullivan of Wilmington frequently walks the leg from the rock climbing wall in Alapocas Run to Brandywine Park. Standing in the meadow between the creek and the cliffs, it feels more like a miniature Yosemite Valley than a part of the city. “It’s one of the most beautiful trails in Delaware,” Sullivan says. She’s also walked from Alapocas to Bellevue.
Each park on the greenway has its own trail system. Bellevue, for instance, features a 2.7-mile equestrian trail, also used for hiking. The 0.3-mile PawPaw Trail in Alapocas loops over earth and rocks and features outcrops over Brandywine Creek.
A southern Delaware greenway
Like the Northern Delaware Greenway, the 3-mile Mispillion River Greenway links several parks. The Mispillion trail, however, runs right through a historic downtown. The mostly brick or concrete trail, completed in 2014, is part of Milford’s downtown revitalization effort. Running from Goat Island—a small nature preserve—to Silver Lake, it passes by shops and restaurants, which is ideal for users who want to mix culture and recreation.