Junction & Breakwater: Biking and Hiking Trail

By the Lewes-Rehoboth Rotary ClubPhoto by Angie Moon

The Junction & Breakwater Trail lies between the resort towns of Lewes and Rehoboth Beach on the western edge of Cape Henlopen State Park. It is Delaware’s third and longest rail-trail in the state and one of the most important economic and fitness boosts for eastern Sussex County in this young 21st century.

The trail gets its name from the rail line that ran between Lewes and Rehoboth in the mid-1800s. It follows the former Penn Central Rail Line that once transported passengers to the many Methodist resort camps along the Atlantic coast.

The Junction & Breakwater Trail officially opened Dec. 4, 2003, and consisted of a 3.6-mile crushed stone trail that extended from Hebron Road in West Rehoboth northward to the Wolfe Glade trestle. The trail dead-ended there until June 4, 2007, when an additional 2.4-mile corridor officially opened extending the existing Junction & Breakwater Trail to a total of 6 miles.

At the Lewes end, an improved trail is part of a 16-mile loop connecting the resort towns of Lewes to the north and Rehoboth Beach to the south.  The trailhead at the intersection of Route 9 (Freeman Highway) at Monroe Avenue has ample parking, restrooms, a fixit station and picnic tables. Currently, the trail parallels Gills Neck Road from the intersection opposite the entrance of Cape Henlopen High School. It passes The Moorings of  Lewes, a continuing care retirement community, as well as farm fields slated for eventual residential and commercial development.  The trail then enters Senators Development and then it passes through the Hawkseye Development which leads to the forested section of the trail.

people riding bikes on a trail in the woods

An alternate way to access the trail is to follow Gills Neck Road from the Savannah Road drawbridge in Lewes. This scenic route takes walkers and riders along the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal and through the rural – but developing – outskirts of Lewes. Riders and walkers should exercise care and discretion in this area because there are no shoulders; but with common courtesy, there is plenty of room for motorists, bicyclists and walkers. Using this alternate, walkers and bicyclists can pick up the improved trail, paralleling Gills Neck Road just past the entrance to the Wolfe Runne development, that leads to the Junction & Breakwater Trail. From Gills Neck Road, the trail makes its way through the Hawks Eye development before reaching the old – now improved – railroad bed leading to Rehoboth Beach.

There are also access points and parking for the trail on Wolfe Neck Road – near McDonald’s and Wawa on Route 1 – and behind the Tanger Outlets Seaside Center near The Glade Road. Riders from the Rehoboth Beach end can head out of town over the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal drawbridge and take a right onto Church Street. They can then turn left past the church and follow the road that passes the entrance to Canal Corkran.

That road intersects with Hebron Road at which point riders can turn left to get to the Hebron Road entrance to the trail. That stretch of the trail goes between storage units and the West Rehoboth community before passing behind The Tides development and then onto a winding and wooded stretch before crossing The Glade Road and heading north to Lewes.

Riders can also choose to turn right at Hebron Road and follow a shoulder trail to another crossing of The Glade Road near the Rehoboth Beach Little League park. This spur of the trail joins up with the main trail to Lewes near the spur that goes to the Tanger Outlets Seaside parking area.

The trail, according to materials provided by Cape Henlopen State Park, follows along the historic rail corridor through wooded and open terrain and provides scenic vistas of coastal marshes at the Wolfe Glade and Holland Glade bridge crossings – two recognized natural areas. The wide, graded trail traverses coastal forest and farm fields. For many visitors to Delaware beaches, the stretch of Route 1 from Lewes to Rehoboth Beach gives the impression that Sussex County’s natural values have been completely overrun by commerce.

Little do they know that the western reaches of Cape Henlopen State Park extend practically to the back lot of the stores along the main highway. Hiding from the sounds of travelers and shoppers are glades, marshes and pine forests leading all the way to the ocean.

The trail includes an 80-foot long railroad bridge originally built in 1913 that crosses Holland Glade and provides views of coastal wetlands and of a World War II observation tower located on the coast. Be sure to stop here to enjoy the tranquil beauty of nature.

a map of the state of rhode