My favorite running trail in our area is the 4.5 mile Bob Trail at Trap Pond State Park. Why is it so great? Well-maintained, well-marked, the perfect distance, quiet, views of serene water and stately cypress trees, mostly shaded, rarely crowded, Brandi and I have never encountered off-leash dogs—the only thing that could make it better would be a few hills (but that is not going to happen in southern Delaware!).
Trap Pond, off of Route 24 near Laurel, Delaware, is the northernmost stand of bald cypress trees in the United States and in 1951 became Delaware’s first state park. Lumbermen created the pond in the 1700s when they dammed the waters in this wetland to power a sawmill to make lumber from the beautiful, rot-resistant cypress trees they felled.
Paddling back into the far reaches of Trap Pond where the cypress trees form a tunnel over your head is a soulful experience. And the trees growing here now are young—only a hundred or so years old. I always wonder what it looked like before humans got to it. Before they cut down the giants, 500-1000 years old, to whittle into shingles.
You can hop on the trail in a number of places but I usually begin at the boat ramp parking area. The Baldcypress Nature Center at the main entrance has a beautiful bathroom so, once in a while, my bladder demands I start there. Regardless, I always go counter-clockwise around the pond. If I went the other way, I might have to run backwards.
From the boat ramp the trail follows Trap Pond Road for a short distance. Then it veers over the spillway and into the day use picnic area passing the playground, the nature center (beautiful bathrooms), and a softball field. Once you are away from these more populated areas, you encounter few people, especially on weekdays. Other trails criss-cross the Bob Trail but there are sign posts at the intersections so it is easy to stay on course.
The wide, crushed-rock trail continues for a little over a mile until it pops out at Wooten Road. You go left, on the pavement. Once you pass Rabbit Pond and another spillway, you jump back onto the trail on your left.
This short section (less than .5 miles) is curvy and more narrow and ends at a T. Bob continues to the left. If you go right, the trail will take you to the recently restored Bethesda Church and cemetery. There is another parking/access area by the church with another darn-nice bathroom that is heated in the wintertime.
Back on Bob, the trail is wide again and soon goes over a boardwalk and bridge. This is probably my favorite spot on the trail. When paddling, this bridge marks the furtherest you can get on the water trail. Here the sun reaches the ground in only a few glowing spots. The delineation between land and water is murky. For me, it is magical. But Brandi has no patience for it. So we don’t stop long.
Soon after the bridge, Bob crosses over a multi-use trail which, if you’d prefer, takes you more directly to the campground. Otherwise, Bob weaves you through the northeast reaches of the park, eventually curving back towards the camping area. The trail crosses over Cypress Point Road (to your left is the campground store which sells drinks and snacks among other things) and then passes the campground and ends up back at the boat ramp parking area where Brandi has earned a dip.
Trap Pond official address: 33587 Baldcypress Lane, Laurel, DE 19956
If you don’t have an annual state park pass the daily parking fee is $4 for in-state vehicles and $8 for out-of-state vehicles.
There are three official access points for the Bob Trail:
- The boat ramp off of Trap Pond Rd.
- The main entrance also off of Trap Pond Rd.
- The Bethesda Church parking area off of Wooten Rd.
This is more of a plea than a helpful tidbit: If you run or walk with your dog, please, please, please use a leash. And don’t just carry the leash with you. Actually put it on your dog!! I know your dog is the most well-behaved dog in the world and will always come when you call. But both Brandi and I have been bitten by the “most well-behaved dogs in the world” and dogs that, “Oh my gosh, he’s never done that before, ever!” Not all dogs like other dogs. (Brandi is terrified of dogs – probably because she has been bitten.) I’m terrified of dogs off leash because I’ve been bitten. Please be considerate and keep your dog on a leash!!