Hoopes Reservoir Hike

By Joe Sebastiani, Members Program Team Leader

Hoopes Reservoir in Northern Delaware has been off limits to the public since 1971.  It is a body of water created to be a back up supply of water for the northern Delaware area, with most of the water is pumped up from the Brandywine River. 

Each year, the Delaware Nature Society gets permission from the city of Wilmington to access the land and take a hike.  Today was our day! 

The hike is rugged and there are no trails for the 3-mile length.  Walking along most of the Reservoir, you feel like you are in New England, due to the areas of planted pine and spruce.  There are areas of mature deciduous forest as well with large oak, hickory, beech, and black birch trees.  Mountain laurel thickets shroud some of the slopes. 

The going is rough in places due to fallen trees and thickets, but the 14 participants on the walk led by me and Sally O’Byrne managed to get through.

Participants on the Hoopes Reservoir hike scramble through some brush.
Participants on the Hoopes Reservoir hike scramble through some brush.

Along the way, there is an active Bald Eagle nest to look at from a distance with a scope.  We were able to see one of the adult birds on the nest.  It looked like it was still incubating.

Active Bald Eagle nest at Hoopes Reservoir.  The eagle is not visible, but it was crouched down, incubating.
Active Bald Eagle nest at Hoopes Reservoir. The eagle is not visible, but it was crouched down, incubating.

Waterfowl were visible in the water today.  The best was a pair of Red-necked Grebe, but we also saw a number of Pied-billed Grebe, Common Merganser, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, Black Duck, and Ruddy Duck.  We also saw a pair of Great Horned Owl and a Red-shouldered Hawk that was screeching at one of the owls.

View along the banks of Hoopes Reservoir.
View along the banks of Hoopes Reservoir.

This exclusive walk is usually given once per year by the Delaware Nature Society.  We hope that you can attend our next one. 

A dedication that few get to see because the Reservoir is closed to the public.
A dedication that few get to see because the Reservoir is closed to the public.

15 thoughts on “Hoopes Reservoir Hike”

  1. Joe Sebastiani

    It has been closed for several reasons, including swimming and the dangers presented by such activities.

  2. I went to Vally Garden Park today and could see a Bald Eagle perched over the reservoir! Very exciting! Too bad we can’t get any closer, but I guess it’s for the best.

  3. Hi Joe – Is there a hike planned for 2016? Can’t find it on the DNS website. Thanks!

  4. Sandy Callahan

    Can you tell me the road the dam can be seen from? There used to be a parking area where you could sit in a chair watch the dam. I live out of state and would like to visit with the grand children in June 2016.
    Thank you,
    Sandy Callahan

  5. Joe Sebastiani

    Hoopes Reservoir Dam isn’t really view-able from any public land that is accessible. You can sort of see the Dam from Barley Mill Road, but if you were sitting out there in a chair, you would have to be on the road, so it isn’t advised.

  6. Joe Sebastiani

    Delaware Nature Society does not own Hoopes Reservoir, but we do weddings at the Ashland Nature Center.

  7. Do we close every body of water in delaware , of course not, Not nearly as dangerous as other areas. It is the playground for the rich people who live it around there and they just want it to themselves and keep the public out.

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