White Clay Creek State Park

Stop 102: Dashing into Delaware

White Clay Creek State Park

While we were staying in the Philadelphia area, we decided to do a quick trip into Delaware, state #30 on this trip across the country. We may do another quick venture into this tiniest of states on our way back down the east coast in a few weeks.

Delaware is the second smallest state in geographic size and the sixth smallest in terms of population… and the entire state only has three counties, fewest in the entire nation. The state is one of the original 13 colonies — and it was the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution, earning its nickname as “The First State.” The state’s name is in honor of Thomas West, the 3rd Baron De La Warr, an English nobleman who was appointed as governor-for-life and captain-general of the Colony of Virginia; earlier, both the Delaware River and the Delaware Bay were named in his honor. The state insect is the ladybug.

One other crazy fact about the state? There are more legal entities in the state than people. The state’s population is about 960,000+ while more than one million businesses, including more than 50 percent of publicly traded companies in the U.S. and more than 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies are incorporated in Delaware (because of tax laws, the courts, and government all favor businesses).

We started our adventures in the state at White Clay Creek State Park, a 3,300-acre park located along White Clay Creek. The park is unique, according to one of the volunteers, because the entire watershed of White Clay Creek is federally protected as part of the National Park Service’s National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Just to the north sits Pennsylvania’s 1,255-acre White Clay Creek Preserve. More than 250 species of plants, 30 species of mammals, and 185 species of birds live in the White Clay Creek Valley.

Portions of the Mason-Dixon line — a survey line completed in a border dispute involving Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware during Colonial times — originates and runs through the park, and there’s even the Mason-Dixon Trail (an almost 200-mile trail that runs through the preserve and the park and continues into Newark, Delaware; portions here are designated a National Recreation Trail).

More than 37 miles of trails for hikers and bikers lead to historic sites and scenic vistas along the creek, as well as overlooking lush valleys and impressive rock outcrops. We hiked portions of the Mason Dixon Trail and Nature Preserve Trail for a total of about 4 miles. Other trails include the Pomeroy (4 miles), Snow Goose (1.6 miles), Twin Valley (3.6 mile), Creek Road (2.3 miles), Wendel Cassel Trail (1.4 miles) and Chestnut Hill (3.3 miles).

Our main reason for visiting Delaware now was visiting Ran’s oldest brother, who he had not seen in more than a decade.

We met up in Newark, a city with a population of about 33,000, and home to the University of Delaware… and the students were in full force the afternoon we visited! (About
18,500 undergraduate and 4,500 graduate students attend the university.) On the plus side, more than 12,000 acres of parks and natural areas (including White Clay Creek State Park) surround the city. We had a nice dinner at a local eatery on Main Street, which was packed with folks on a Sunday evening, and it was fun for the four of us to meet and reconnect… sharing stories of our lives.

We did not get a chance to go to the First State National Historic Park, but perhaps we will on our return visit. The park consists of several historic pieces, including the Woodlawn property in Beaver Valley (a 1,100-acre park located between Wilmington, Delaware, and Philadelphia), as well as the Old Sheriff’s House, Old New Castle Courthouse, New Castle Green, Dover Green, and Fort Christina.

As we were heading out, we discovered one more feature that attracts folks to the state… Delaware does not have a sales tax, which means the state’s various malls and outlets are major attractions for tourists looking to save money.

Next up? We travel for several weeks into New York, starting with the Finger Lakes region.

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