The Mason Dixon Trail In White Clay: History, Inspiration and Exercise

The Mason Dixon Trail In White Clay: History, Inspiration and Exercise
| 3 min read

The Northeastern United States is rich in history and landmarks as the original settlement area of Europeans in America. Stretching for 193 miles across Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania, the Mason Dixon Line was the divide between the northern and southern colonies in the developing United States. It is now a blue blazed trail which crosses through cities and forests providing endless miles of activities and soul building. As the trail is long, you can plan a quick walk or take the whole day, just pick your section!

Follow the Blue Blazes

the mason dixon trail in white clay: history, inspiration and exercise | follow the blue blazes

A small, magical section of the Mason Dixon Trail (MDT) runs along the water through the White Clay Creek Preserve in Delaware. It is mostly flat and manageable but still requires a solid pair of sneakers. If hiking is not for you, biking, swimming, paddle boarding, sledding and fishing are only among the obvious as you plan your day. Despite the proximity to town, you will quickly find peace and serenity as you are transported back in time along the heavy vegetation of these historic lines.

The parking lot at the nature center just off Hopkins road is a great access point (see attached google maps link). Rangers at the nature center and information boards in the lot can help you decide how you would like to spend your day. Beach access is available right off the lot, but if you follow the blue blazes along the road, up the hill, the markers will lead you off into the woods.

If you are on your bike, note that some of the trail is for foot traffic only. A bike trail is also marked and runs parallel to footpath, but locking your bike up and exploring by foot leads you to better views and a more secluded experience.

Along the White Clay Banks

the mason dixon trail in white clay: history, inspiration and exercise | along the white clay banks

Once you are on the path, stop to breathe. Look. Listen. Smell. Feel. Wooden bridges will carry you through the sounds of woodpeckers and crickets, across side streams and beneath heavy branches.

Collect leaves and finger gnarled roots and hollowed trunks. Watch how shadows paint the path as you shuffle your feet along the dirt. One moment you will be walking along an ordinary, wooded trail you have probably seen a million times before, but all of a sudden you will stumble upon a moment. You will find little sections and corners of the trail where the color and the light are just right. A breeze may blow and stir the aroma of leaves and sweet flowers in contrast to the bitter, earthy scent of algae on the muddy bank.

Discover off the path

the mason dixon trail in white clay: history, inspiration and exercise | discover off the path

Occasional benches and side trails provide resting spots for tired legs or meditation. There are many small, hidden paths which pull off the trail towards the water leading to quiet secret banks and coves. If the creek is low, access to the opposite shore is easy -if you don’t mind getting your feet wet. Some parts of the river have islands for sunbathing and reading. Other parts have fallen trees and piles of logs for exploration and climbing. In certain parts of the year, the creek can flood with aggressive waters. Be cautious and only cross in calm waters.

This part of the MDT is simple, yet breathtaking. Moderate usage and an amazing park service across all seasons keep it well maintained. Every hiker should still follow strict “leave no trace” efforts by respecting the path and remaining aware of their impact. Information on how you can be a responsible hiker is available in the nature center.

Find your moment

The Mason Dixon Trail in the White Clay Creek Preserve is the place for an inspiring and soulful hike in the woods. If you find yourself in love with this part of the trail, there are many more miles to explore. Even the drive home along Hopkins Road will enhance your trip, allowing time for reflection as your day winds down. Hop into the lively little town of Newark, Delaware for dinner and drinks on Main Street to share the end of your day with the locals. Don’t be shy and don’t take Delaware for granted. Come out and find your moment on the MDT.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Find me with my head in the clouds and my hands in the soil. I am a solo female traveler with fluid plans and a small budget. My biggest adventures include cycling, backpacking and exploring across...Read more

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