Get your steps in on The Point before its annual closure

You never know what you’ll find walking the circular trail in Cape Henlopen State Park
February 18, 2022

Story Location:
The Point
Cape Henlopen State Park
Lewes, DE 19958
United States

For almost two decades, the state has closed The Point in Cape Henlopen State Park annually so threatened and endangered beachnesters and migratory shorebirds have a place of refuge. The closure date is always the first day of March, which is just around the corner and a Tuesday this year. The area as a whole closes on one date, but it reopens in two sections – oceanside opens Sept. 1; bayside opens Oct. 1.

Only possible during cool or cold months, walking The Point is one of my family’s favorite outings. Every year we get out there as soon after Oct. 1 as possible. When the car comes to a stop in the parking lot, there’s always a feeling of excitement related to not knowing what will be found – sea glass, shells, buoys, interesting pieces of wood, weird trash, orange wedges that probably fell off the mixed drinks of charter vessels. Sometimes, it’s a lot. Sometimes, it’s just the sand that found its way into our shoes.

What follows is a travel log of my most recent trip. Other than plastic tubes driven into the sand indicating where not to go, there are no trail markers, so I counted my steps as a way to keep track of my progress. It took me 6,657 steps to make the circular trip. Basically, get out and enjoy this walk while you can. It’s going to be another six months before it’s open again.

Step 422: Reached bottom of oceanside entrance trail. The trail has an entrance to the Delaware Bay side and to the Atlantic Ocean side. We almost always go ocean first.

Step 453: Crossed paths with Bill Schab, who has spent many winter mornings walking The Point over the years. He was out there picking up trash and enjoying the last few mornings before the annual closure. “They’re going to close it again soon. It’s my little pet peeve,” he said, shaking his head with an I-know-I’m-the-only-one-who-cares smile. 

Step 1,198: I found my first piece of sea glass. In my experience, there’s not too much sea glass on the oceanside of The Point. Of course, there’s some, but more often than not, there’s more success as we make our way toward the bay.

Step 2,128: I found the first piece of sea glass I thought my wife would be jealous of. Note how close this is to the first piece of sea glass I found; I was feeling pretty good about my chances of more. But the feeling didn’t pan out. That’s what I get for gloating.

Step 2,784: Came across a ruddy turnstone walking across a patch of browned reed grass that probably came down the river and into the bay before being pushed ashore by tides and wind. Honestly, I didn’t know what kind of bird it was. I just thought it was unusual that it let me get that close. Thanks to Sally O’Byrne, who has led local Christmas Bird Counts for years, for quickly identifying the bird for me.

Step 3,290: The point of The Point. I always enjoy this part of the walk the most. There’s the bay and the ocean. The two lighthouses. To the north, the water immediately off the coast churns on windy days, revealing the back-and-forth nature of the bay and ocean waters meeting. Farther out, there is maritime activity – ferries, the small cutters used by Pilots' Association for the Bay and River Delaware, fishing boats, large container ships entering and exiting the mouth of the bay, and people surf fishing. To the south, it’s nothing but sand for hundreds of feet. On a nice day, a person can lose track of time scanning this sand for something interesting.

Step 3,401: A small knobbed whelk shell. There have been walks after fall storms when the Radio Flyer wagon, brought along in case a child gets tired, has been overloaded with all sizes of these shells.

Step 4,733: The tube fencing used on the bayside of The Point to mark the boundary where vehicles are not allowed to go. I’m going to assume the tracks I saw beyond the fencing were from park rangers.

Step 5,199: There’s a pool on the bayside that forms at low tide. Almost always, we can cross without getting wet. However, there have been some occasions that required rolling up the pants and taking off the shoes and socks because it wasn’t completely low tide.

Step 6,118: The unidentified shipwreck. Right now, there’s not much showing of the 19th-century vessel, but that’s not always the case.

Step 6,414: Bottom of the bayside entrance. This path is considerably shorter than the oceanside path, which is nice for tired legs.

Step 6,616: A sign telling how the shape of The Point has changed over the years. According to that sign, the coastline has moved about one mile northward in less than 170 years.

Step 6,657: Back at the car, having meandered The Point in about 90 minutes. It could always be longer.

So there it is. A pretty typical walk around The Point. Some sea glass was found. Boats and birds were seen. Fresh air and sun were gratefully taken in.

Joke of the Week:

I’d like to start off by thanking Catherine, Charles, Debbie, Eric, Jeff and Rob for taking me up on my offer and submitting jokes. This is a one-joke space, but keep them coming. I’ve created a file and will keep them for future use.

This week’s joke is from Jeff, who didn’t mean to, but inadvertently submitted a Valentine’s Day joke:

Q: What did Spartacus say when the lion ate his wife?

A: Nothing. He was gladiator.

  • Chris Flood has lived in or visited family in Delaware his whole life. He grew up in Maine, but a block of scrapple was always in the freezer of his parents’ house during his childhood. Contact him at

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