The Gordons Pond trail is one of the superintendent's picks at Delaware State Parks. Courtesy of Delaware State Parks.

For verified fun, check out park superintendents’ picks

Ken MammarellaCulture, Headlines

The Gordons Pond trail is one of the superintendents' picks at Delaware State Parks. Courtesy of Delaware State Parks.

The Gordons Pond trail is one of the superintendents’ picks at Delaware State Parks. Courtesy of Delaware State Parks.

Delaware State Parks in 2022 drew 8 million visitors, lured by the sand and the surf, the flora and the fauna, the past and the participatory sports and other activities and events that don’t make alliterative pairs. But wait, there’s more! Park superintendents promote a wide variety of “superintendent’s picks” on the homepages of most of the 17 state parks.

Parks charge entrance fees March 1 through Nov. 1.

Different choices, park by park

Here’s what they’re highlighting, in alphabetical order.

IN THE NEWS: War memorial near bridge to be renovated, expanded

Alapocas Run State Park

The park hosts Delaware’s only natural rock climbing wall. Park staffers offer top-rope climbing programs, and climbers can venture out on their own as well. The wall is in Wilmington, on the Brandywine, just east of where the Northern Delaware Greenway hits the water. Free permits are required, and the park warns that “climbing is an inherently dangerous activity.”

Auburn Valley State Park

The Marshall family is best known for the world’s largest operating collection of Stanley Steamer cars, and the superintendent’s pick highlights another aspect of the family: the Marshall Brothers Paper Mill, which “in its undisturbed condition complements the Queen Anne mansion and surrounding estate,” near Yorklyn. The mill, on Benge Road, made paper from 1890 to the 2000s. The park plans for it to be “rehabilitated into a museum space.”

Bellevue State Park

The superintendent suggests packing a lunch and enjoying the grounds of this former du Pont family estate, “an outstanding example of leisured life in the Gilded Age” in the middle of suburban North Wilmington. William du Pont Jr., the estate’s last owner and an avid equestrian, transformed the land to include horse stables, indoor horse training facilities and most notably a 1⅛-mile horse track. His home, Bellevue Hall, is available for rentals and is surrounded by his collection of trees from around the world and 12 more structures that kept the estate self-sustaining. Picnic pavilions and tables are inside and near the track, with the most direct access to that part of the park off Philadelphia Pike.

Cape Henlopen State Park

The 3.2-mile accessible Gordons Pond trail offers “stunning views of the park’s dynamic coastal habitats, including dunes, forests and wetlands,” the superintendent writes. Visitors can hike or bike across the elevated boardwalk and look for wildlife along the trail. The trail hugs the western edge of the pond to start, and it also connects to the Biden Center near the northern end. The trailhead is the Gordons Pond parking lot, just north of Rehoboth Beach.

Delaware Seashore State Park

The North Inlet Day Area beach in the park is one of the few designated areas in Delaware for surfing. The beach is just north of the Indian River Inlet bridge, north of Bethany Beach.

Fenwick Island State Park

Naturalists lead evening adventures to look for ghost crabs. Ghost crabs are active on coastal beaches from spring through autumn, according to “These crabs are able to change their coloring to match their surroundings, making them less vulnerable to predators.” The park is north of Fenwick Island.

First State Heritage Park

At the John Bell House, historic interpreters dressed in 18th century dress cook, clean, garden and otherwise make visitors “feel as if you stepped back to days of the Revolution.” The park’s calendar includes events at the house focused on magic (June 8), historic trades (July 4) and ice cream (July 6). The John Bell House is at 43 The Green, downtown Dover.

Holts Landing State Park

The park, on the south shore of Indian River Bay and north of Millville, hosts live music on Tuesday nights, starting at 6. Attendees are invited to bring picnic baskets and enjoy the songs and a campfire. The main entrance is on Holts Landing Road, and the concerts are where the road dead-ends into the bay.

Killens Pond State Park

Yes, there’s a famous 66-acre pond and a popular waterpark, but the superintendent picked the view from the Pondside Bridge, where the Murderkill River meets the pond. Acces to the bridge is from the Pondside Trail or the Cross Country Course. The park is southeast of Felton, with the main entrance off Killens Pond Road.

Lums Pond State Park

The nature center showcases the park and its native wildlife, with live reptiles and a 500-gallon freshwater aquarium exhibit with fish native to the pond. The pick concludes by suggesting signing up for a program, such as a guided kayak tour. The nature center is on the northwest side of the pond, just south of the main entrance, on Howell School Road, near Kirkwood.

Trap Pond State Park

The park’s campground has tent sites, RV sites, cabins and yurts. Yurts are round Mongolian tents, and Delaware, surprisingly, has yurts in Trap and Lums ponds. The campsites are all on the western edge of the park and the northern side of the pond. The main entrance is on Trap Pond Road, east of Laurel.

White Clay Creek State Park

The 2.2-mile Bryan’s Field Trail offers hikers and mountain bikers opportunities to see wildlife and access hunting and fishing areas in the park. This loop trail crosses meadow and passes through a mature hardwood forest of maple, oak and poplar over a packed earth surface. On the outer loop, trail users will traverse an area of reforestation and witness early forest succession. A cut-off leads to the “Post Marked West” monument, marking where Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon started to survey their famous line, heading 200 miles due west. For advanced bikers, there is a challenging mountain biking skills course. The trailhead is at the Possum Hill parking area, 195 Smith Mill Road, Newark.

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