U.S. Senator Tom Carper, Governor Jack Markell, DNREC Secretary Collin O'Mara, and other federal, state and local officials, trail supporters and outdoor enthusiasts, at the groundbreaking for the new Gordons Pond Trail in Cape Henlopen State Park. The trail project, combined with the existing stone trail, will result in 2.75 total miles of improved trail connecting Gordons Pond to Herring Point in Cape Henlopen State Park. The 15.5-mile loop that the trail creates will be the longest loop trail south of the C&D Canal.
"More trails for walking, hiking, biking, and jogging rank consistently as the highest outdoor recreation need identified by Delawareans throughout the state," said Governor Jack Markell. "The investments we continue to make in our trails and pathways support our overall health and well-being, and help grow our economy. Trails like Gordons Pond help make Delaware attractive to talented workers and businesses who may want to locate here."
"As we improve and invest in our trails, we create more than just pretty pathways in Delaware," said U.S. Senator Tom Carper. "We cannot underestimate the value of trails in Delaware -- and this one in particular. This trail means better health for Delawareans and a better economy for Delaware."
"Gordons Pond and the Cape Henlopen State Park provide Delawareans and guests from around the region an opportunity to take part in a delightful day of exercise and engagement with the world around them," said U.S. Senator Chris Coons. "The completion of the final phase of the trail will bring outdoor enthusiasts that much closer to the vibrant natural resources that surround them at the pond. I am thrilled construction is beginning shortly and look forward to heading out on the trail this spring when it's completed."
"I'm excited to see the construction of the Gordons Pond Trail move forward," said U.S. Congressman John Carney. "We know the tremendous positive impact that well-maintained trails have in our state. Just last week, we dedicated a new trail along the C&D Canal. The trail connecting Lewes and Rehoboth is one of the most popular in the state, attracting both tourists and Delawareans. These trails show off the beauty of our state, while people are biking, walking, or doing other activities that are part of a healthy, active lifestyle. I'm looking forward to coming back once this trail is complete."
The trail provides a key link in a 15.5-mile loop through Lewes and Rehoboth and along the existing Junction and Breakwater Trail -- one of Delaware's most used and loved existing trails. It will be compliant with the American with Disabilities Act and offer all visitors year-round access to enjoy and learn about a special area of Cape Henlopen State Park.
The $3 million project was funded by the 2012 Bond Bill as part of the Governor's Trails and Pathways Initiative. As part of the initiative, the trail is an improvement and extension of the existing trail between the Gordons Pond Day Use Area and Herring Point. The existing improved Gordons Pond Trail begins at the Gordons Pond parking lot, extending 0.75 miles to an observation platform. Beginning at the observation platform adjacent to Gordons Pond -- the northernmost point of the improved trail -- the trail's alignment will follow the existing primitive trail on the dike along the western edge of Gordons Pond, a distance of 1.2 miles. A boardwalk segment will begin south of an existing footbridge and will run across dunes and marsh before it rejoins a level sandy landscape to the north, a distance of 0.4 miles. At the boardwalk's north end, a 0.3-mile trail section lies east of the marsh that connects to the Walking Dunes Trail and Herring Point at Dune Road. A new trailhead parking lot serving the trail's north end will be constructed.
"This trail will provide a world-class recreational experience for those wishing to enjoy the magnificent views of Gordons Pond, the tidal marsh, ocean and dunes," said DNREC Secretary Collin O'Mara. "In addition, trail networks promote healthy lifestyles and take cars off the road, reducing air pollution and traffic. The Gordons Pond Trail will offer an excellent opportunity for young Delawareans to be outdoors to experience and learn about nature, as we strive to have no child left inside."
The new 10 foot wide trail will replace the existing primitive trail from the observation platform adjacent to Gordons Pond on the south end to Herring Point on north end. The trail tread surface will be stone topped with stone dust and the surface will match the existing Gordons Pond Trail. Other improvements will include benches at various locations along trail and observation areas on the boardwalk. When complete, expected in the spring of 2014, the entire length of the Gordons Pond Trail -- 2.75 miles -- will meet standards required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The boardwalk will be 8 feet wide and approximately 0.4 miles long. It will be elevated to span dunes and marsh; deck height above ground varies from 2 to 3 feet at its low section to 8 to 9 feet at the high section. The boardwalk will offer views, account for rising sea level, and will provide a level of separation between pedestrian traffic and sensitive cultural and natural resources. The fiberglass-grated deck is designed for light penetration to wetlands plants below it. It will include two 8 by 20-foot observation areas, and the handrail will be wood-framed with see-through wire mesh along full length of boardwalk. In addition to the handrail being designed for safety, it will also ensure that visitor stay on the trail and not wander into areas where they can potentially disturb wetlands, sensitive cultural resources, and rare plant and animal species.
Also at the event, Senator Carper on behalf of Delaware's Congressional Delegation, paid tribute to Charles Salkin, the outgoing director of DNREC's Division of Parks and Recreation, who will retire at the end of October after 35 years of state service, including 21 years as Delaware State Parks division director.