Delaware Paddling Report

I managed to get out paddling 3 times during my recent trip to Bethany Beach, DE, all in under 48 hours!! Here are some quick notes.

Delaware Breakwater East End Lighthouse: Launch is in Cape Henlopen State Park right next to the fishing pier. Need to go early-ish in the morning to avoid bad traffic through Rehoboth. $10/vehicle entry fee for out-of-state tags, paid at an automated kiosk (credit card only). We put in around 8:00am, near high tide. Total paddle was only around 2.5 miles, but lots to see along the way: dolphins, horseshoe crabs, an osprey with chicks, Lewes-Cape May Ferry route a short distance away, and (of course) the lighthouse. Water was nice and calm behind the breakwater, with occasional minor chop from boat wakes and breeze. There were a fair number of people out on the water: a few fishing boats, a whole bunch of kayaks (a few people fishing, and what appeared to be a sightseeing tour). We were able to disembark on the breakwater, walk up to the lighthouse, and find a geocache that was hidden there. It’s not for the faint-hearted, though: there is nowhere to easily tether the boats, so we roped them together and took turns. All in all, a very memorable outing. It would be a great place for sea kayaking.

Savage Ditch: This is north of Bethany about a mile past the Indian River Inlet Bridge. We came here in the evening. This is also $10/vehicle for out-of-state, paid at an honor box. I missed the launch at first and tried to follow the trail past the picnic pavilion, which was a mistake. It does go to the water, but it’s several hundred feet, and the bugs were fierce. I was swatting them the entire way, and picked up two ticks. My son found the actual launch, which is a much shorter carry and somewhat less buggy, but the put-in is on the muddy side. Once on the water, though, it was quite nice. We saw tons of gulls, lots of water turtles, and a few egrets, terns, and ducks. We didn’t paddle too far since it was close to dusk. The sunset was very nice, as was the near-full moon. Next time, I won’t forget the DEET.

Trap Pond State Park: After years of hearing people rave about this place, we finally decided to check it out. It is about a 40 minute drive from Bethany with light traffic, or 45-50 minutes with heavy beach traffic. Unfortunately, the trip was kind of a bust, as the water level was extremely low to accommodate emergency repairs to the dam. As a result, most of the really cool places to paddle were inaccessible due to shallow water. Had I done my homework ahead of time, we probably would have taken a pass this year. All the same, we did get a couple miles of paddling in, and we saw some really cool bald cypress trees. We will come back here at some point when things are back to normal.