Days
<1
Motors Allowed?
No
Difficulty
Easy / Class A
Distance
6.00 mi (9.66 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The best way to see and experience the sights and sounds of a cypress swamp is in a kayak or canoe. The Trap Pond and Terrapin-Branch Water Trails provide an easy, short route for beginner kayakers to explore the northernmost publicly owned Bald Cypress Swamp in the U.S. As you paddle through the quiet waters, listen and look for owls, woodpeckers, warblers, great blue herons, Canadian geese, and the occasional bald eagles that frequent the park. Fish will jump at the insects scurrying over the water's surface. Watch for signs of beavers and squirrels gathering food. The swamp is unique and more interesting than the drier pine forest just in from the shore.

Delaware's Trap Pond and bald cypress swamp is located in Trap Pond State Park. It represents a small fragment of a once-massive swamp, the former Great Cypress Swamp of the Delmarva Peninsula in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. Draining the swamp for farms and cutting the long-lasting, rot-resistant wood shrunk this once great swamp to a few remaining small sections.

Bald cypress trees are magnificent. The older trees, more than 200 years, can grow to heights greater than 150 feet and are often known to live about 600 years. They are called bald because they lose their nettles during the winter. The trees grow oddly shaped, tall, bumpy knots on their roots and around the base of the trees, called "knees." Scientists aren't sure of the knees' role in the life of the tree.

This short 3- to 6-mile water trail can start at either the park's canoe launch or the docks at the campground, both on the north side of Trap Pond. Head east away from the low dam that forms the pond. After passing through some of the isolated bald cypress trees in the middle of the pond, you will come to Terrapin Branch in the northeastern corner of the lake. Several yellow signs along Terrapin Branch help ensure you follow the main channel and make it hard to get lost. The direct out-and-back distance will depend on where you start, and how far up Terrapin Branch you want to go or if you want to add exploring the open waters of the pond. Three miles is pretty much the minimum distance. Early morning at sunrise is highly recommended for the potential of foggy, misty rays of light creating "god beams" of light, also known as crepuscular rays, through the trees as the forest awakes. The best map for this trip is the park's official map. The PDF version on the internet is a bit dated, so get the park's printed version and consult rangers about any changes.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Fall

Parking Pass

Admission Fee

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Great easy kayak through a tranquil bald cypress swamp.

Cons

None.

Pets allowed

Allowed with Restrictions

Put-in location (lat, long coordinates)

38.529799120836, -75.480014164686

Take-out location (lat, long coordinates)

38.529799120836, -75.480014164686

Water Temperature

74.00 °F (23.33 °C)

Features

Family friendly
Boat ramp(s)
Fishing
Bird watching

Trail type

Loop

Access

Vehicle

Typically multi-day

No

Shuttle required

No

Site characteristics: Water

Lake

Portage required

No

Location

Field Guide

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