First of all, these can be very confusing trails based on all of the complicated and contradictory information we found online. Despite the first leg being called the Georgetown-Lewes Trail, it doesn’t actually reach Georgetown, yet (and we’re guessing it will be a while until it does). Opened in 2016, only six of the eventual 17-mile trail has been completed, but when it is, it will be the single longest trail in Delaware. (Keep in mind, Delaware is the country’s second smallest state, so it’s all relative.) But it would seem that a certain powerful politician in Washington who hails from the First State might earmark some funds to finish this!
Where the trail currently begins (in Milton, Delaware) is unmarked and there is no parking. So, after driving around cluelessly for a bit, we parked on the side of a little-used road (Cool Spring Road) and jumped on the trail at the intersection of the busier route US 9 East. (A good address to look up is the Brimming Horn Meadery which is right on the trail and very close to the western trailhead.)
We took off on the smooth asphalt trail through an airy forest of very tall pine trees, whose canopies hovered about 30 feet above us. Riding along the flat-as-a-pancake trail, we passed by both new and more established neighborhoods where flags and flowers festooned the trail’s edge to welcome bikers and pedestrians. We’d read that there were 12 intersections along the trail, but very few had any traffic and all featured the “listen to your mother” stop signs pictured below.
It was a fast and easy six miles to the outskirts of Lewes, a quaint little beach town that serves mostly as a thruway for vacationers taking the Cape May Ferry to or from New Jersey. It is here that we transitioned onto the Lewes-Rehoboth trails, which make up essentially one big 17-mile loop. But if you want to look them up individually, they are the Junction-Breakwater Trail (8.3 miles) plus the east side of the Cape Henlopen State Park Bike Loop (approximately 1.5 miles) and the Gordons Pond Trail (5.2 miles). There’s another mile in there somewhere, but we’re not sure of the name of that trail. And actually, these distances change depending on what website is consulted.
Did we mention that this is a confusing trail? Fortunately, it’s easier to ride than to read about. Rather than constantly consulting maps, we tend to navigate our rides more intuitively. Thankfully, one of us has a good sense of direction (Jim). But, if we end up with a few turn-arounds and “I told you so’s,” it doesn’t ruin Christmas.
We decided to head counterclockwise on the loop, riding south, then east, through cornfields, neighborhoods, open marshes and wooded patches outside Rehoboth. One of the big-house neighborhoods we passed was called “Senators,” which we were surprised to see had more than four houses. In Delaware (where Kellie went to college – “That’s the Fighting Blue Hens, thank you.”), the statewide officeholders seem to just trade places every few years – going from the governor’s mansion to the U.S. Senate (two members) to the U. S. House of Representatives (one member). The same four guys rule the state…for decades.
This is the Junction-Breakwater trail, which is mostly crushed stone with macadam roads approaching and through the town of Rehoboth. This is where you can find any number of stores or restaurants to buy food or water. It was fairly short jaunt through the neighborhood streets of Rehoboth, then we rode on the wide shoulder of Ocean Avenue heading north along the coast. Soon we were entering Cape Henlopen State Park and riding on one of the most unique and picturesque trails we’ve ever encountered. It’s almost entirely marsh land, inland bodies of water (a saltwater lagoon and tall grass-lined creeks) and sand dunes. Snowy egrets, gray herons and a wide variety of marine life populate the marshes. Kellie finds these really creepy (“they’re not land, they’re not water…what’s lurking in there?!”) but she loves this wide open and generally sunny expanse with its nearly half-mile elevated boardwalk over the brackish waters below.
At various points along the trail, there are observation decks and places to view the ocean and the remains of a World War II-era military base with abandoned watch towers, artillery and barracks. It was a little tricky winding our way out of the park but eventually, we ended up on a road that paralleled the beach and led back into Lewes. Jim had an issue with one of his pedals and stopped to replace it at Seagreen Bicycle, right on the trail. From there, we picked up the Georgetown-Lewes trail again and headed six miles back to our starting point for a grand total of 29.5 miles…maybe.
Revolution Brewery is a very small, but good brewery right on the bike trail as you enter Rehoboth. But we decided to go to one of our favorite breweries about 10 minutes from the trailhead, the much larger and larger-production Dogfish Head Brewery. Set in what looks like a little village built around the towering tanks of the brewery in Milton, DE, the first thing one sees is the wacky Steampunk Treehouse that rises 40-feet above the picnic tables outside the tasting room. Apparently, this “retro-futuristic” sculpture was constructed for (and survived) Burning Tree 2007.
There are always a lot of interesting beers at the Milton Tasting Room, so Kellie resisted ordering her favorite Sea Quench Session Sour, and went nuts with a flight containing Flordito (a pineapple and mint mojito-inspired beer that tasted just like it sounds), Agua Nuevo (a lime and blue agave margarita-inspired beer – also good and only 10 IBUs), Namaste Witbier (a classic witbier with orange and coriander notes) and a Fort witbier with raspberries and a whopping 15%-20% ABV! We took home a half-growler sized can of that intensely flavored dessert beer.
Jim decided to go rogue and order a flight himself (he likes to surprise Kellie!) that included Dogfish Head’s popular 60-Minute IPA (60 IBU), 90-Minute IPA (at 90 IBU, it’s heavier and qualifies as an imperial IPA), 90-Minute IPU (which Esquire Magazine calls the “best in America”), Hazy-O (45 IBU – and now Jim is saying he does like Hazy IPAs after a bike ride), and Liquid Truth Serum (65 IBU). We’ve found all of Dogfish Head’s beers to be consistently good, which may explain their success and broad distribution.
Got anything to share about these seashore trails or nearby breweries? Go for it in the Comments below.