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State parks staff propose adding 13 miles of trails to Cape Henlopen

Courtesy of DNREC's Division of Parks & Recreation

State parks officials are looking to expand on the trails system at Cape Henlopen State Park and are holding an open house Thursday evening in Lewes for the public to weigh in on the proposed changes.

Delaware State Parks staff want to add 12.5 miles of trails to accommodate walkers, bikers and equestrians, bringing the park’s trail mileage to 30.

David Bartoo, a planner with the state’s Division of Parks & Recreation, says one big change in the trails network that will be presented to the public on Thursday, is nine more miles of narrow trails that bring the total to 14.

“People who are looking for narrow trail experiences, especially for mountain biking, may not presently go to Cape Henlopen,” Bartoo said. “But if this trail plan were to be built out the way it’s being proposed, that would be a huge destination at that point for those types of folks.”

Bartoo says New Castle County has a lot of trails that are 3 feet wide, while most trails in Kent and Sussex are 8 to 10 feet wide.

Additionally, Cape Henlopen has trails for all users, including hikers, bikers and horseback riders, but staff want to broaden the opportunities, Bartoo said.

There’s limits in terms of the breadth of experience for those different users and a range of challenges," Bartoo said.

For example, equestrians can only ride on the beach during winter. Parks staff are proposing almost two miles of year-round inland trails for horseback riders.

Parks and recreation staff will hold an open house for the public to see the Cape Henlopen trail concept plan between 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Shoreline and Waterway facility, 901 Pilottown Road in Lewes.

After the open house, DNREC will take comments on the concept plan through May 20. Staff will assess the comments and figure out what changes, if any, they'd like to make to the current plan. Bartoo says they hope to have an official document by the end of the year. 

The state has been monitoring some of Cape Henlopen’s trails for several years, and estimates an average of 60,000 people enjoy Junction & Breakwater Trail annually.

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