By Robert Enriquez
History of Cape Henlopen State Park
After 1682, William Penn was granted Delaware land. He declared Cape Henlopen State Park and its resources for public use to the citizens of Lewes and Sussex County. The 5,193-acre state park located in Lewes became one of the nation’s first public spaces.
Swimming at Cape Henlopen State Park
Cape Henlopen State Park includes a swimming beach that stretches for six miles and has lifeguards on watch from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. This beach is complete with umbrella rentals, a bathhouse with showers, changing rooms and a food concession. As for visitors with wheelchairs and power chairs, there are 30-foot mats connected from the boardwalk to provide easy access onto the beach.
Cape Henlopen State Park Amenities
In addition to the beach, the Cape Henlopen State Park also offers open spaces for various activities. Picnic pavilions can be reserved for group events. The basketball courts and an 18-hole disc golf course promote both exercise and friendly competition. Surf fishing is also available, but only in designated areas. Vehicles that have surf-fishing permits are instructed to park in a single file; this helps accommodate any safety concerns for visitors and staff alike.
Hunting at Cape Henlopen State Park
Another activity that folks can partake in is hunting. All of the Delaware State Parks require that each prospective hunter must register for the Delaware State Parks Hunting Program and have a valid Delaware Hunting License. The registration is $10. All must be aware that the park’s hunting areas are shared with other permitted activities such as hiking and biking; extreme caution should be exercised during hunting.
Trails at Cape Henlopen State Park
There are various horseback riding, hiking and biking trails that span anywhere from 0.6–5 miles long.
At the beach, there is 4.6-mile trail that is used for hiking and equestrian activities. Seasonal horseback riding is allowed on the beach, but all riding guidelines should still be followed.
Another trail available at Cape Henlopen State Park is the Pinelands Trail, which is 2 miles long and is exclusively for hiking. On the Pinelands Trail, one can find World War II artillery bunkers and discover four species of pine.
A second trail that’s exclusive to hikers is the 0.6-mile Seaside Nature Trail. Here, the bayside location holds many of the state park’s nature programs.
The Walking Dunes Trail stretches for 1.6 miles and is reserved for hiking and biking.
The Salt Marsh Spur is a 0.6-mile-long hiking and biking trail. This is a loose-sand trail that provides views of plant and wildlife.
The Gordons Pond Trail is a 2.65-mile hiking and biking trail that splits between a crushed stone surface and an elevated boardwalk while providing scenic views.
The Bike Loop Trail is a 3-mile-long shared-use trail. It is a paved trail suitable for most uses and links many of the state park’s main attractions.
Lastly, the Junction and Breakwater Trail is also a 5-mile, one-way, shared-use trail that takes you through open fields and conifer forests.
Click here to read more about the Junction and Breakwater Trail.
Camping at Cape Henlopen State Park
Along with its trails, Cape Henlopen State Park provides over 150 camping sites that accommodate RVs or tents; most sites have water hook-ups. In addition to these sites, there are 12 cabins available for rent to campers year-round. There is also an AC/heating unit, cleaning supplies, a fire ring and a grill for campers.
Cape Henlopen State Park Summer Camps
Along with the year-round camping at Cape Henlopen State Park, there are also summer camps for children of all ages. These camps and programs are just a few of many that are available at the park during the summertime.
Events and Additional Attractions at Cape Henlopen State Park
In addition to the many activities to choose from in Cape Henlopen State Park, the park hosts annual events, such as the Kite Festival and the Halloween Fantasy trail. For the history buffs, the World War II Observation Tower offers 360-degree views of the coastline. One thing’s for certain—outdoors activities are endless at Cape Henlopen State Park, and there’s always a new trail to discover.
Cape Henlopen State Park is located at 15099 Cape Henlopen Dr. in Lewes. For more information call 302-645-8983 or visit DeStateParks.com