Ashland to Bucktoe Hike

By Joe Sebastiani, Members Program Team Leader

Photos by: Henry Seiler

One of my favorite things to do is invent exclusive hikes through preserves and private properties in our area.  A few years ago, I invented one that is 6.5 miles long and connects Ashland Nature Center in Hockessin, DE to the Bucktoe Creek Preserve near Kennett Square, PA.  We cross several private and public nature reserves as well as other private property, where I have received permission to cross the land.

In the 6.5 miles, there is only about 1/2 mile of actual road walking.  The rest is through woods, fields, and across small streams.  I led a group recently on this walk, and it again proved to be a pleasant “country ramble” that few get to experience. 

A Wilmington and Western Railroad bridge over Red Clay Creek.
A Wilmington and Western Railroad bridge over Red Clay Creek.

Walking upstream along Red Clay Creek, we were treated to excellent views of Hooded Merganser and a view of the bridge and dam (above) that is very scenic.

Here I am at the 8th Mason-Dixon marker on the PA/DE border.
Here I am at the 8th Mason-Dixon marker on the PA/DE border.

One of the big open areas we cross is state of Delaware and Delaware Nature Society land at Auburn Heights.  This land is currently only accessible with special permission.  One of the more interesting features is the 8th Mason Dixon marker on the PA/DE border.  There is actually a line across the top of the marker to show the boundary.

We follow a gas pipeline right of way through private property.  This stretch goes through a fine stand of deciduous forest.
We follow a gas pipeline right of way through private property. This stretch goes through a fine stand of deciduous forest.

Continuing on, we cross several private properties that I have permission to access on this special “ramble” (as they say in England, I learned). 

Continuing on through scenic private lands in Kennett Twp., PA.
Continuing on through scenic private lands in Kennett Twp., PA.

Eventually, we reach the 300-acre Bucktoe Creek Preserve, a private nature reserve.  Walking along the west branch of the Red Clay Creek, we spotted a pair of Green-winged Teal, a bird which has not been recorded on the property and is infrequently seen in creeks.  This hike allowed us to see what open spaces are off-road in our area and it was encouraging to see so much undeveloped land.  Look for this and other exclusive hikes to come on our web page, www.delawarenaturesociety.org.  We hope to see you on the next one!

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