Delaware Birding Trail

Cypress & Pine Region

Tea-colored ponds ringed with stately cypress trees combine with loblolly pine flatwoods to lend this region a distinctly southern accent. Breeding songbirds, including warblers, vireos, and tanagers, are the outstanding attraction, but the region is a charming place for a walk or paddle year-round.

Great Cypress Swamp

4 miles west of Selbyville
Managed by: Delaware Wild Lands, Inc.
Web site:

The Great Cypress Swamp is the largest remaining forested area on the Delmarva Peninsula. Low-lying, wet and densely vegetated, the swamp's inaccessibility has unquestionably aided its preservation. It is a treasure trove of typically southern breeding birds, beginning in mid to late April. Less explored by birders at other times of year, the area has potential to turn up interesting species at any time. The unpaved Hudson Road loop is a good access point, traversing several forest types in a short distance.

The Great Cypress Swamp is a large area, with many landowners. Access is generally limited to public road edges. The non-profit conservation group Delaware Wild Lands has preserved approximately 10,000 acres in the swamp.

Directions for the Hudson Road loop:
From US 113 just north of Selbyville, go west on Route 54 towards Gumboro. Just before the 3-mile mark, you will enter a nice patch of swamp forest. Birding here is not recommended, however, as the road shoulders are narrow. Instead continue on, watching carefully on the left (SE) for Hudson Road (Rd 418), which is reached 5.9 miles from US 113.

Follow Hudson Road, which is unpaved, ½ mile, to where it bends sharply right (S). The forest along the next ½ mile is excellent. In another 0.7 mile, Bethel Road intersects Hudson from the right. Continuing straight on Hudson will take you almost immediately across the Maryland-Delaware state line, and into more forest. To return to Route 54 from the Bethel-Hudson junction, go right (NW) on Bethel 0.7 mile, then turn right (N) on Donaway Road, which rejoins Route 54 in 0.9 mile.

Trap Pond State Park

5 miles southeast of Laurel
Managed by: Delaware State Parks
Web site:

Beautiful, cypress-lined Trap Pond offers the best access to southern forest types in Delaware—there are excellent opportunities for both hiking and boating. Built around a 90-acre mill pond, the park features a fine network of flat, sandy trails that allow for leisurely exploration.

Recommended areas include the Island Trail and the adjacent section of the Hike & Bike Trail, both accessed from the ball fields just beyond the nature center on the pond's south side. On the east shore, the Cypress Point Trail and the stretch of the Hike & Bike Trail between the campground and Cypress Point, are also good. More ambitious walkers may even want to walk the entire Hike & Bike trail, circling the pond in 4.9 miles.

For the best views of the magnificent bald cypress forest, rent a boat or join a naturalist-led cruise into the pond's scenic headwaters (mid-April through October), or put your own canoe or kayak in at Trap Pond or nearby Trussum Pond.

Directions for Trap Pond State Park:
From US 13 & Route 24 just east of Laurel, go east on 24 for 4.6 miles, then turn right (S) on Road 449 (Trap Pond Road). For the Cypress Point Trail and nearby Hike & Bike Trail, watch on the left (E) for the turnoff to the campground (Goose Nest Road), 0.9 mile from Route 24, just before crossing Trap Pond. Turn left onto Goose Nest Road, then right (SE) after 0.2 mile into the campground entrance. Continue 0.7 mile to the Cypress Point parking area.

For the Island Trail and the south shore section of the Boundary Trail, go in the main park entrance, just across the pond from the campground turnoff, 1.2 total miles south on Trap Pond Road from Route 24. Turn right (E) into the park, and go 0.3 mile down the park road to the Baldcypress Nature Center; 0.1 mile past that, park by the ball fields, where trails can be accessed from the northeast corner of the parking area.

Redden State Forest

4 miles north of Georgetown
Managed by: Delaware Forest Service
Web site:

Redden State Forest comprises over 10,500 acres spread among 17 tracts. The habitat here is constantly changing as loblolly pine and mixed pine-oak forests are timbered and replanted, but Redden is consistently one of the best areas to find southern forest birds. In the breeding season, sought-after species such as Worm-eating Warblers and Summer Tanagers are fairly common. Red-headed Woodpeckers, rare in Delaware, are sometimes found here, and Vesper and Grasshopper Sparrows breed in small numbers in surrounding fields.

The best place to start is the Headquarters Tract. Park near the headquarters building and walk south to the "T" intersection. Here, you can follow the road in either direction or take the educational trail. Another popular area with birders lies along Deer Forest Road, west of US 113.

Directions for the Headquarters Tract:
From the intersection of US 9 & US 113 in Georgetown, go north on US 113 4.3 miles, then turn right (E) onto East Redden Road (Road 565). In ½ mile, turn right (S) onto Redden Forest Drive. The headquarters is 0.3 mile ahead on the right (W).

To the west of US 113, Road 565 is called Deer Forest Road. Much of the stretch between US 113 and Gravelly Branch (3.3 miles west from US 113), borders Redden State Forest land on one or both sides, and is a nice birding route.

Nanticoke Wildlife Area & Chapel Branch

3 miles southwest of Seaford
Managed by: Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife

The Nanticoke River, which runs southwest from Seaford into Maryland and empties into the Chesapeake Bay, is bordered by several rich forest areas. Three recommended spots are along Chapel Branch, the Woodland Ferry area, and the woods surrounding the boat ramp at Phillips Landing.

The woods near the confluence of Chapel Branch and the Nanticoke River are cited by local birders as the best location near Seaford for finding migrant songbirds, and also boasts a rich assortment of breeding species. Two loop trails and several side trails offer a variety of options for walking. The large trees just before and on the hill after the boardwalk are especially worth checking.

Three miles southwest of Chapel Branch, the Woodland Ferry dock provides a place to scan the river for waterbirds. Just beyond the ferry, Woodland Church Road enters a nice patch of riverside forest for the next mile. When the small cable ferry at Woodland is running, it offers a fun, alternative route between Chapel Branch and Phillips Landing area, on the south side of the Nanticoke. The boat launch there is also surrounded by good quality forest.

Directions for Chapel Branch and Woodland Ferry:
From the Nanticoke River Bridge of US 13 on the east side of Seaford, go north on US 13 ½ mile, then turn left (W) onto Route 20 through downtown Seaford. After 2.2 miles, turn left (S) onto Sussex Avenue, which ends in ½ mile at Woodland Road. Turn right (W) onto Woodland, go ½ mile around the sweeping curve to the left, and turn right into the small parking lot for Chapel Branch Nature Area.

For the Woodland Ferry, continue south along Woodland Road from Chapel Branch for 3 miles, then turn left (SE) onto Woodland Ferry Road. After 0.2 mile, turn left (W) to continue on Woodland Ferry Road; the dock is on the river bank.

Note: The ferry operates year-round, with service from 7:00 am to 6:30 pm daily during spring and summer. The ferry operates shorter hours during the fall and winter. The ferry is closed on Thursday mornings for routine maintenance.

Directions for Phillips Landing:
From US 13 & Route 24 just east of Laurel, go west on 24 for 1.1 miles, then turn right (W) on Road 492 (West 6th Street, which becomes Portsville Road), and proceed 3.3 miles, taking care to bear left (W) where Road 492A forks north to Bethel. At Shell Bridge Road, turn left (SW), then quickly right (W) onto Phillips Landing Road (Road 496). Phillips Landing is 2.3 miles west down Road 496, on the right (N).

Next Sites: Forest & Farmland Region - Click to continue.

The Delaware Birding Trail is a joint project of the following:

  • Delaware Audubon Society
  • Delmarva Ornithological Society,
  • Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control,
    Division of Fish & Wildlife,

This project was funded, in part, through the Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife with funding from the Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program, Division of Federal Assistance, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Original Text by Jeffrey A. Gordon

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