The Darlington Trail (Middletown Trails)

As the weather gets cooler I find myself getting the urge to go hiking in the woods with Matt and Bailey.  We took a nice 2 mile walk at Okehocking Preserve last week but, since that’s already been featured on my blog, I thought I’d write about another one of our favorite hiking spots: Darlington Trail in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.

The Darlington Trail is part of the wonderful “Middletown Trails” network that is owned and maintained by Middletown Township.  You can view a map showing the rough location of each of the six trails in my Linvill Trail post from last March.

One of my favorite parts about the Darlington Trail is that it crisscrosses an old rail line.  These tracks used to carry passenger trains from Media to West Chester (an extension of the current-day Septa R3 Media/Elwyn line) but now they are only used by the occasional freight train traveling at night towards Philadelphia from a nearby quarry.  We’ve never seen a train on this stretch of tracks during the daytime so we always feel very safe walking along (or on!) the tracks.

The train tracks cross high over the Chester Creek in two spots.  I wouldn’t recommend trying to walk across the rail bridges on foot because the space between each of the railroad cross ties is completely open to the creek 30 or so feet below.  Seeing the water rush by below your feet is pretty disconcerting when you are standing on a bridge that’s only a couple of feet wide with no handrails or guardrails!

The first time we hiked the Darlington Trail we were exploring the tracks and somehow ended up on the wrong side of one of the bridges.  Bailey definitely would have fallen right through the holes between the ties if we had tried to walk on the bridge so Matt concluded that the only way to get her to the other side was to carry her.  Luckily she was very calm and stayed perfectly still while Matt tiptoed from tie to tie across the bridge!  (Note: you do not have to cross the bridges in order to hike the trail!)

The bridge doesn’t look very intimidating from here, but when you get closer and realize that there’s nothing but air between the rail ties it might make you feel a bit unnerved when walking over it!

The terrain is quite varied on the Darlington Trail.  At some points you snake along the wide bank of Chester Creek (great for dogs who like the water!) and in other spots you hike through rolling farmlands and are rewarded with a great view of the surrounding area and the trail as it continues on in the distance.

According to the trail map, the entire loop is about 2.75 miles long.  The trail is well maintained and is clearly marked with yellow diamond-shaped trail signs.  We usually park in the lot located on Darlington Road just north of the road’s intersection with Route 1 / Baltimore Pike in Glen Mills, PA.  You can also park near the original Wawa dairy (yes, THE Wawa!) on Valley Road just north of Route 1.

If you live in the Delaware County/Chester County area and ever decide to hike the Darlington Trail I would love to hear what you think of it!  Do you have a favorite section of trail (or does your dog have a favorite section of the creek?)  🙂  Please share!

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Linvill and Indian Orchard Trails (Middletown Trails)

A few years ago when we lived in Media we discovered that there were miles of hiking trails in our neighboring township.  While this kind of revelation may not be that shocking for many people in most parts of the country, we live in the Philadelphia suburbs and this was quite a pleasant surprise for us.  We immediately started to explore the Middletown Township Trails and have since hiked each of the six trails multiple times.

General Location of each of the Middletown Trails

One of our favorite trails is the Linvill Trail.  It follows the perimeter of the awesome Linvilla Orchards, home of pick your own apples (and blueberries, peaches, strawberries, you name it), a brand new garden center, haunted hayrides, and, my favorite, cut your own Christmas trees.  We’ve cut down a tree with Matt’s family for the past 6+ years and we always get our tree (a frazier fir) from the pre-cut tree area in the market.

A field of Linvilla Christmas Trees

The Linvill Trail and its neighbor, the Indian Orchard Trail, wind around through beautiful, quiet woods and wide open fields.  I especially like the few spots where you suddenly stumble upon an old, crumbly spring house, a ‘hidden’ swim club, or, (my absolute favorite!!) abandoned railroad tracks.  You can take an easy detour off of the Linvill Trail and visit the Chester Creek Branch, a single track that is completely falling apart and overgrown.  (But be careful, parts will collapse and slide into Chester Creek if you don’t watch your step!!)

Eventually the Chester Creek Branch is supposed to become a Rail-Trail.  Although I know that this will be great for the overall community, I love seeing the actual abandoned tracks and having the right-of-way to ourselves.  It just won’t be the same once it’s paved over and populated with bikers and runners… Oh well!

Bailey on the Chester Creek Branch tracks looking down over Chester Creek

Another underutilized right-of-way on the Linvill Trail is the huge swath of land that has been cut back for a gas pipeline.  Although the initial lack of vegetation can be a surprise at first, I like pipeline right-of-ways because they create a whole new open area in the woods to explore.  Every once in a while you’ll come to a point where you can see along the pipeline for several hundred yards which is kind of a neat sight in an otherwise dense forest.  According to the township map, this pipeline is also slated to become a ‘future trail’ at some point.

Matt and Bailey walking down the Linvill Pipeline Right-of-Way

I’ll finish this post off with another photo of the beautiful fields of Linvilla Orchards.  For more information on the Linvill and Indian Orchard Trails, check out the trail map (with my notes!) or visit the Middletown Township Trails web site!

Linvilla Orchards

Linvill & Indian Orchard Trail Map (with my notes!) click to enlarge