Page 152 - The Hunt - Spring 2019
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                  into the water several yards upstream,
the dog times his paddling to intercept it as he nears midstream.
Back on solid ground, Wallace returns to the leash—but not before he shakes off the water, fairly drenching us. Soon enough, we’re back on our way, walking north between the stream and a freshwater marsh.
With its streams, woods and hillside meadows, the Brandywine Valley is one of the most placid and attractive natural areas in the Mid-Atlantic region. Fortunately for us, several areas have escaped development and boast a variety of trails for hiking. None are walks lengthy enough for backpacking, but several trails do make
for good workouts.
The most-bucolic trails are in four parks: Brandywine Creek State Park, Alapocas Run State Park, First State National Park and ChesLen Preserve. With the exception of the latter, all
are in Delaware. Generally speaking, Pennsylvania’s Chester County—which shares Brandywine Creek with Delaware— has more open space that’s accessible only to riders chasing foxes.
Brandywine Creek State Park
Much of the open space in northern Delaware was originally owned by members of the du Pont and Bancroft families. And most of Brandywine Creek’s parkland of woods and meadows was once part of the Winterthur Estate. At one
Hikers of all ages enjoy the trails along the Brandywine.
time, it covered 2,400 acres. Henry Francis du Pont inherited the property in 1927, reducing that number to 962 acres.
Of the land he sold to relatives,
433 acres straddling Brandywine Creek eventually became the core of the park, which was established in 1965. In 1981, an additional 500 acres were donated
to the state by William Poole Bancroft’s Woodlawn Trustees.
The park has about 10 trails, most named and marked. They range from a gentle half-mile to almost three miles. Some are relatively flat, while others require uphill walking. The longest are on the east side of the creek and extend into the national park, located just upstream in both Delaware and Pennsylvania.
Parking is $4 daily. There’s a lot on the west side of the creek at the park’s main entrance, two on the east side at Rockford Road to the south, and one at Thompsons Bridge Road to the north. The park opens at 8 a.m. daily. For a map and more information, visit destateparks.com
First State National Park
First State was originally designated a national monument in 2013 by President Obama and later declared a national park. While it does include various state historical sites, the major part of it is
the 1,105-acre tract that allows for trails within Brandywine Creek State Park to continue north into the national park on the eastern side of the creek.
As with part of the state tract, almost all the land in the national park came from Bancroft’s Woodlawn Trustees, although the trust retained title to some major property farther away from the Brandywine and nearer to Route 202.
The Creekside Trail, which runs along the stream, and the nearby Brandywine Trail, which parallels both, extend through both parks and are accessible from the parking lot at Smithbridge Road. There are three additional trails in First State—two of which are more than a mile in length— as well as some unmarked paths. It’s open sunrise to sunset. Visit nps.gov/frst/index.htm.
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