C&D Bike Trail – Overview

This beautiful 30-mile (round-trip) cycling trail follows the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal from the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland to the Delaware Bay in Delaware City.

You may find yourself pacing huge cargo ships chugging along the major shipping channel from the East Coast to Baltimore during your trip along the sunlit trail through a nature preserve, around a marina, and past wetlands, traveling between two beautiful, historic villages anchoring both ends of the trail.

It’s actually several local bike trails through Maryland and Delaware that have been connected to make the overall C&D Bike Trail.

C&D Bike Trail trail head in Chesapeake City
The start of the C&D Bike Trail in Chesapeake City can be seen on the left side of canal (light strip along the water).

The 1.8 mile Ben Cardin segment starts at Chesapeake City in Maryland and continues to the state line. That’s where Delaware’s 12.1 mile Mike Castle Trail takes over until Delaware City’s 0.4 mile Branch Canal Trail connects cyclists to the town’s Canalfront Promenade.

The land along the canal is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Maryland and Delaware have long-term leases on the wildlife area along much of the trail.

That means there’s very few amenities along the trail. However, a local pub is located about halfway with a great outdoor bar area that’s perfect for cyclists (with a big, bike rack). Be aware there’s no grocery or convenience stores near the trail. Bring what you need.

Grain H2O, Bear, Delaware
Grain H2O, a brewpub along the C&D Canal Bike Trail in Delaware

The trail is paved asphalt and goes along the canal, up through woods, around a marina and meanders through marshland. Either end of the trail is an historic town with fun bars & restaurants.

There are a couple hills with switchbacks, but the trail is mainly flat and an easy-to-moderate ride.

The Branch Canal Trail into Delaware City follows the town’s 1920’s-era towpath and goes through a 9.6-acre tidal wetland. Tucked in there is a restored African Union Church Cemetery, the burial site of five African-American Civil War veterans who were part of the U.S. Colored Troops.

The trail has three little parks along the way with restrooms, picnic tables and parking lots that are great stops for a break, or a good starting for those who want to shave a bit of distance off the ride.

Two are out in the country and one, St. Georges, is near a residential area:

  • South Lums Trailhead (GPS: 39 32′ 40.08″ N / 75 43′ 10.28″ W)
  • St. Georges Trailhead (Address: St. Georges Trailhead, Mike Castle Trail, New Castle, DE 19720)
  • Biddle Point Trailhead (GPS: 39 33′ 16.14″ N / 75 37′ 3.90″ W). 

It’s not a busy trail, yet.

Route Description

Downloadable C&D Bike Trail GPS Map


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