More tourists: Christmas present for Delaware

December 9, 2013

There’s a reason why several states are coming up with special “trails” as a way to not only attract tourists, but entice them to stay for a long visit. Many states have designated routes that include some of their unique features. For instance, Louisiana has its Cajun Trail, Kentucky its Bourbon Trail, Nebraska its Outlaw Trail, and Virginia its Crooked Road Trail.

In Delaware there is already an exciting trail route - the American Discovery Trail— - a perfect way to discover not only the beautiful seashore but also the unique small towns and historic features along the way. This trail route takes the traveler from Cape Henlopen State Park to Lewes and the site of the first Dutch settlement and the Zwaanendael Museum and on to the historic town of Milton and the bucolic countryside. The entire route is an easy-to-ride bicycle route, a true discovery trail that’s perfect for sightseeing.

Because its route was designed to pass close to people as well as scenic places, the American Discovery Trail goes right through towns, making it easily accessible for a day’s stroll or a cross-state bicycle ride.

The American Discovery Trail is like a patchwork quilt - a route of existing trails, towpaths, rail-trails, country roads, small town sidewalks and big city greenways, stretching all the way across the country from the Atlantic Ocean in Delaware to the Pacific Ocean in California.

As the eastern terminus for the American Discovery Trail, Delaware is the first stop for all those intending to cross the country on this trail route, and thus it’s a very important state among the 15 American Discovery Trail states.

Like any tourism attraction, however, the key is publicity, and at this point Senator Coons holds the key to far greater publicity for Delaware tourism.

Legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives that would designate the American Discovery Trail as one of the nation’s National Trails. But this bill needs to be introduced in the Senate as well.

If Senator Coons would introduce the National Discovery Trails bill in the Senate there’s a much better chance that the bill would pass in Congress. The result? This would put Delaware on the National Trails System maps and in turn this would put Delaware on the list of top tourism destinations for thousands of people.

The American Discovery Trail bill is a win-win prospect. It will bring in much needed tourism dollars and boost the local economies but it won’t cost any new dollars. The trail route is now 20 years old, all on public lands, already maintained, already in use - so no new funding is needed.

As the country’s only ocean-to-ocean trail, the American Discovery Trail route will become a magnet to tourists, anxious to see the country the old-fashioned way - slowly, out in the open, touching the land and meeting its people.

Because Delaware is “the first state” of the 15 American Discovery Trail states, it’s in a strong position to play a leading role in putting the route on the National Trails System map.

But that’s if Senator Coons will introduce the bill in the Senate in the near future, and if Representative Carney will add his name now to the list of sponsors of the House bill (National Discovery Trails Act HR 3022).

The American Discovery Trail website is, and if you click on Delaware you can see a map of the route plus a list of some of the attractions that travelers will see along the way.

I hope this information will help you to inform your readers about the beneficial possibilities of the legislation. I can be contacted at 434-244-2688 or

Ellen Dudley
vice president for government affairs
American Discovery Trail Society

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