Declared a National Wild and Scenic Rivers System in 1991, the White Clay Creek watershed is one of only a few relatively unspoiled, ecologically-functioning river systems in the urbanized corridor between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Newark, Delaware. An oasis in the White Clay Creek State Park includes four linked areas: the Carpenter Recreation Area, White Clay Creek Preserve, Possum Hill and the Judge Morris Estate.
White Clay Creek State Park is a popular spot for bird watching as many species make their home or stop here on migration paths. The Nature Center hosts a number of fantastic educational programs. A day-use area with large picnic area is also available.
The trails trace along gentle hills, woods and rushing streams through the Mid-Atlantic flood plain near the state's northwest border. About 35 miles of well-groomed, multi-use trails wind throughout the four areas of the Park. The Middle Run Natural Area is situated between the main parkland and the eastern part of the park (Judge Morris Estate). Mountain bike riders can travel two miles by trail from the Judge Morris Estate, through the county-owned Middle Run Valley Natural Area, to Possum Hill.
These trails are especially nice for beginners and families or an afternoon of mountain bike riding with your significant other. The trails are well-maintained, smooth and hard-packed with very few rocks or obstructions. There are a few climbs, drops and long downhill sections, however nothing is too difficult.
Note: Throughout the Park, especially along the creek area in the Preserve, birds like to nest in the bushes, along the creek, field edges and undergrowth. It is important to stay on the trails in order not to inadvertently harm wildlife. Watch where you put those knobbies, hiking boots or hooves.
Nature Preserve / Possum Hill Areas
The Possum Hill section contains deciduous hardwood forests, many open fields, hedgerows and several ponds. .There are four main loop trails. Short "connector" trails between the loops allow for all kinds of ride options. You can do one large loop of all three trails or a series of figure eights. Keep an eye out for the Park's plentiful wildlife.
White Clay Creek Trail 3.6 mile loop
This lovely trail provides three ride options. The west side of the loop, the 1.4 mile Boundary Line Connector Trail, is a scenic ride along White Clay Creek. It makes for a nice out-and-back ride. From Thompson Station Road the trail crosses a footbridge, then climbs to an open field, passing a grove of trees before reaching Corner Ketch Road and the highest point in the park at an elevation of 370 feet. Turn around for an easy downhill ride back or continue riding, crossing Yeatman Station Road to connect with the trails on the Pennsylvania side of the Preserve. The third option is to head south at the Corner Ketch Road Trail Head and connect with the Cart Trail for a 3.6 mile loop ride back to Thompson Station Road..
Bryan's Field Trail: 2.1 mile loop
Fun, mostly singletrack trail with man made mountain biking skills obstacles that travels over rolling farmland through scenic wooded areas. . A variety of ride options are possible by using the connector trails which branch off the Bryan's Field Trail. These lead to Thompson Station Road, Nine Foot Road, or the Middle Run Natural Area Lenape Run Trail at Paper Mill Road.
Whitely Farms Trail: 3.1 mile loop.
The south end of the parking area near Whitely Farms is a good starting point. The trail is well-marked, moderate single-track which travels through corn fields and some hilly, wooded sections with tight, twisty turns. You will encounter some long climbs and downhill sections including a fun, fast descent as you approach the connector to the David English Trail. A half mile double-track cut-off trail runs between Possum Hill and Hopkins Road for a figure-eight ride option.
David English Trail: 2.5 mile loop
There are lots of field edges and hedgerows along this quiet, singletrack loop trail. The park office located on Thompson Station Road is a good starting point. The trail parallels the righthand side of Thompson Station Rd. for awhile, then veers right and leads up the hill towards a tranquil meadow with two small ponds. It then descends into deep woods with abundant wildflowers and ferns to follow a small stream back towards the parking lot. The varied habitat provides lots of wildlife viewing opportunities for the observant explorer. The Twin Ponds cut-off around the trail midpoint, provides a shorter ride option.
Judge Morris Estate Area
Chestnut Hill Trail: 3.4 mile loop.
The Chestnut Hill Trail is a nice route for beginners to practice bike handling skills. Moderate level cyclists will enjoy the mostly smooth, hard-packed single-track that travels through forest behind the Judge Morris Estate. There are a few technical sections, hills, tight turns, bumps and several creek crossings to make things interesting. Nothing is too difficult. Occasionally, you may come across some downed trees on the trail but those are usually cleared quickly. Trail maintenance is superb.
If you wish to avoid the longer uphills on this route, ride the trail clockwise. Of course, then the downhills will be faster. Watch out for hikers. From the trailhead it is easy to cross Polly Drummond Hill Rd. to access more challenging trails at Middle Run Natural Area.
The Tri-Valley Trail: 6 miles one way.
The Tri-Valley Trail connects the Preserve, Possum Hill, Middle Run Natural Area and Judge Morris Estate, passing through open fields and woodlands. It also crosses a stream (Middle Run) that flows into White Clay Creek. The Snow Goose Trail, popular with mountain bikers, can be accessed from the Tri-Valley Trailhead at the Judge Morris Estate or by the connector trail north of off Polly Drummond Hill Rd north of the Judge Morris House.
Pomeroy Rail Trail
The portion of the Tri-Valley Trail on the east side of White Clay Creek follows the path of the now defunct Pomeroy and Newark Railroad which operated from 1873 to 1929, connecting Pomeroy, Pennsylvania, with Newark, Delaware. The 2.7 mile crushed stone and dirt surfaced rail trail connects White Clay Creek to the James Hall Trail north of Newark, DE.
Carpenter Recreation Area
Twin Valley Trail: 3.5 miles
This is the oldest part of White Clay Creek State Park, and the most heavily used for recreation (picnicking, frisbee golf etc). Dense brush, hedgerows and fields dominate the landscape, although there are some wooded areas.
Starting from the main parking lot, the Twin Valley Trail winds through portions of the White Clay Creek Natural Area. As you bike the hills and valleys, you will pass the Mason-Dixon monument that marks the beginning of the 12-mile arc that forms Delaware's northern boundary.
Carpenter Recreation Area: 880 New London Road, Newark, DE. Approximately 2 miles north of Newark on Route 896. Entrance is on the right.
For Possum Hill Area: Take Route 896 north from Newark to Hopkins Rd. Turn right and continue to Thompson Station Rd. and turn left. for Nature Center. Parking is at the Park Office.
Preserve Area: Take Route 896 north from Newark to Hopkins Rd. Turn right and continue east to left turn for Nature Center. Park at the Nature Center.
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