Cape Henlopen State Park
This seaside haven looks like paradise found, but beneath the surface, battles rage. Pitch pines encroach on the Atlantic's shore, but the dunes push back, burying the trunks beneath as much as 30 feet of sand. Meanwhile, silky sundew plants coyly wait to feast on unsuspecting flies. Link a few of Henlopen's short trails for close-up views of these natural spectacles, or sample the first few miles of the continent-spanning American Discovery Trail, which begins here.
Contact: Cape Henlopen State Park, (302) 645-8983; www.destateparks.com.
Trap Pond State Park
What besides slimy critters lurks in this park's swamp? How about trees with knees (bald cypress), elegant anglers (great blue herons), rare species (pileated woodpeckers), and inquisitive explorers (you) taking in the country's northernmost bald cypress swamp along Trap Pond's short-but-scenic 7 miles of trail?
Contact: Trap Pond State Park, (302) 875-5153; www.destateparks.com.
White Clay Creek State Park
A hike along the 20 miles of White Clay Creek trails is a hike through history. See the rise and fall of the timber industry on the Lumber Trail. Witness the origins of enormous, round grindstones on the Mill Stone Trail. Or follow the Possum Hill Trail to the official beginning of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Contact: White Clay Creek State Park, (302) 368-6900; www.destateparks.com.