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The Michael Castle Trail is a paved, multi-use pathway on the north shore of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal.



Michael Castle Trail opens along Delaware shipping canal

photo of biker on paved trail by river

the new Michael Castle Trail along the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal


On October 18, 2013, the new Michael Castle Trail on the north bank of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal was formally opened. Former Delaware Governor and United States Congressman Michael Castle was the honored guest as Governor Jack A. Markell joined Secretary Shailen Bhatt, Department of Transportation (DelDOT), and Secretary Collin O’Mara, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) in cutting the ribbon.

The approximately $6 million Michael Castle Trail, which is part of Governor Markell’s First State Trails and Pathways Initiative, currently stretches nearly 9 miles from the southern end of the Branch Canal west to the Summit Bridge. This scenic stretch along the canal bank is a multi-use pathway designed to accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists, anglers and equestrians, and will be managed by DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife as part of the C&D Canal Conservation Area.

Mike Castle served Delaware for nearly 40 years as a state legislator, lieutenant governor, governor, and U.S. Congressman. While Castle was Governor the trail was envisioned by the trail user community though it was while serving in Congress, Castle helped initiate the trail project in 2004, when a group of constituents spoke with him on better ways to utilize the area around the canal. The project was approved and construction of the trail started in mid-2012. When the remaining phases of the Castle Trail are completed, the pathway will extend a full 16 miles from Delaware City to Chesapeake City, MD.

canal trail map

Route of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal (click to download map - pdf 823 kb)

“Each time we open a new trail, we are a step closer to our vision of a statewide trails network that will allow residents and visitors to see Delaware’s natural beauty up close, connect local businesses with new visitors, and link our communities,” said Governor Markell. “As a cyclist, I look forward to adding the Michael Castle Trail to my list of favorite places to ride.”

“Congressman Castle left a remarkable legacy during four decades of service to the First State. We honor his legacy with a trail that will forever bear his name. He has left Delaware a better place,” said DelDOT Secretary Shailen Bhatt.

“Opening this new trail will help support tourism, connect communities, get people outside and help improve their quality of life through healthy activity and enjoyment of nature,” said DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara. “In addition to advancing our plans for a statewide network of trails, the Michael Castle Trail also supports Delaware’s Bayshore Initiative in its goal to enhance low-impact outdoor recreation and ecotourism opportunities.”

photo of man speaking under huge bridge

Governor Jack Markell speaking with former governor and
congressman Michael Castle to left

Construction along the Branch Canal will take place in two phases. Delaware City began construction in September on a 0.4-mile section close to Route 9. Next spring, another 0.9 mile trail section along Branch Canal will be under construction. When completed in late 2014, the approximately $1.4 million lower Branch Canal component will connect the Castle Trail along the north side of the C&D Canal with Delaware City’s Canalfront Promenade. In addition to DelDOT and DNREC, partners involved in this phase include the New Castle Conservation District and the City of Delaware City.

Governor Markell’s First State Trails and Pathways Initiative creates a statewide network of new and enhanced trails and pathways for residents and visitors to enjoy walking, biking, hiking and active living. The initiative has far-reaching advantages— boosting Delaware’s economy, benefitting local businesses and promoting the continued growth of the state’s recreation and tourism industries. By offering people a place to walk, run, or ride, trails and pathways allow them to connect with the outdoors and encourages healthier, more active lifestyles and have more choices for active transportation.

First State Trails and Pathways Initiative is a partnership led by both the Department of Transportation and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control with regional and local organization and government partners.


For more information:

For more on the trail visit

See Delaware’s blueprint for trails— “First State in Trails”

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