Serenity attracts visitors to Trap Pond

June 20, 1993|By JoAnne C. Broadwater | JoAnne C. Broadwater,Contributing Writer

Our paddle boat was in the middle of Trap Pond when the great blue heron flew past. He nearly skimmed the surface as his enormous wings swept through the air in great, long strokes.

We paddled through the closely spaced clusters of baldcypress trees, which grow right out of the water in this out-of-the-way Delaware state park. Some Frisbee-sized turtles were sunning themselves on a half-submerged fallen tree. Startled, they slid into the water with barely a splash.

It's an easy drive to Trap Pond State Park from the Delaware beaches. A half-day trip allows plenty of time for boating on the pond, which is located east of Laurel, Del. Take along a picnic lunch to enjoy on the water. You'll be back at the beach in time for dinner.

The park rents paddle boats, canoes and rowboats at its boathouse. The prices are reasonable, and in just two hours a great deal of the pond can be explored. It's a short distance from the dock to the first clump of baldcypress trees (the pond has the northernmost stand of baldcypress trees in the United States).

It's fascinating to float among the trees, which have knobby growths from their roots called "knees," which stick out of the water and surround their trunks. The function of these "knees" is not clear, but there are theories that they provide extra support in a wet environment.

The pond is 15 feet deep in some areas but averages 5 feet throughout. Waterlilies float along the surface in more shallow areas, and herons can be seen making quick plunges for fish along the shoreline. And at the end of the pond is a narrow canoe trail which leads to Raccoon Pond.

The watery trail, which is marked for boaters, is only 10 feet wide in some places. A canopy of loblolly pine and oak trees blocks out the sunlight, creating a winding tunnel through a hushed forest habitat for turtles, birds, skunks, raccoons and other wildlife.

The trail is designed for canoes, although the water is deep enough for visitors in paddle boats to venture into at least a portion of it. The water does become quite shallow, a park spokesman said, and paddle boaters should not try to make it all the way to the freshwater Raccoon Pond. Canoes, which will float in much more shallow water, can be paddled from the boat dock to Raccoon Pond in about an hour.

The 966-acre park became one of Delaware's first state parks in 1951. Trap Pond was created in the early 1800s to power a sawmill during the harvest of baldcypress trees from the area. Today, the park offers camping, fishing, picnicking, walking trails and swimming. Although this destination is popular and can be quite crowded, it's easy to find a peaceful place to paddle on the pond.

Trap Pond State Park is five miles east of Laurel, Del. From state Route 24 drive one mile south on county road 449 to the park entrance.

Paddle boats, which can seat from two to four people, rent for $3 for 30 minutes and $5 for an hour. Canoes, which carry up to three people, are $4 an hour. Rowboats are $3 an hour. Pontoon-boat rides, which run hourly on Saturdays from noon until 6 p.m., cost $2 for adults and $1 for children. Admission to the park is $5 for out-of-state vehicles and $2.50 for Delaware vehicles. For information call (302) 875-5153. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Fees range from $10 to $12 per night.

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