Wander Our Trails
Many visitors to Southern Delaware think of the miles of coastline along the Delaware Beaches, but there is an abundance of ecosystems as one travels westward. There are miles of streams, ponds and the pristine Nanticoke River, one of the major tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay.
The Nanticoke River Water Trail, a Chesapeake Bay Gateway Network Waterway Trail, is one of your entry points to enjoy and learn about the places and stories of Western Sussex County, Delaware.
The Nanticoke River begins its journey just south of the town of Harrington, DE. It winds its way through the farmlands, forests and marshes of Delaware and Maryland before emptying into the Chesapeake Bay’s Tangier Sound nearly 65 miles downstream.
As one of the healthiest rivers on Delmarva, it is also one of the most diverse. Ecosystems ranging from upland forests to estuarine salt marsh provide habitat for rare species such as endangered Delmarva fox squirrel, and support the highest concentration of Bald Eagles in the Northeastern United States.
The Nanticoke River also connects the many stories of the region, including early Native American settlements and establishment of Woodland, Seaford, and other river towns, with the river providing sustenance, habitat, economic opportunities, transportation and recreation.
Recreational boat traffic on the river originates in the Seaford area and heads south. Along the trail, there are several boat launches, fishing access sites, picnic facilities, shared-use trails for hikers and equestrians and a developing scenic byway, called the Nanticoke Heritage Byway. There is year-round access to the river.
At the heart of the Nanticoke River is the Nanticoke Heritage Byway. The 39.8 mile long Byway connects visitors to the past of the First State, on a scenic and history journey through Sussex County. Visitors immediately get a sense of this history when entering the Byway from the north at the Hearn & Rawlins Mill, featuring a historic resource which operated as a grist mill in the late 1800’s. The southernmost point of the Byway, Trap Pond State Park offers visitors the chance to enjoy picturesque scenery just east of the town of Laurel. Between these two gateways, the Nanticoke River Heritage Byway loops through Seaford, Laurel, Concord, Woodland and Bethel.
Along with the numerous historical viewing opportunities, visitors can also take advantage of the many options for recreation while traveling the Byway. Hiking, cycling, birding, boating and many other water-based activities are all possible while visiting the Nanticoke Heritage Byway.
Chapel Branch Nature Area
The Laurel Kayak/Canoe Launch
Roger C. Fisher Laurel River Park
Seaford Boat Ramp & Riverview Park