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  Hiking >> Brandywine End to End Hike
Hike DescriptionMinimize

The Wilmington Trail Club's annual hike of the Brandywine Trail, held in late March or early April, starts at the Horseshoe Trail near Ludwig's Corner, Pennsylvania, and ends in the Brandywine Creek State Park near Wilmington, Delaware. CLICK HERE FOR THE 2019 ANNOUNCEMENT! The trail wanders down the scenic Brandywine Creek Valley through parks, farms, pastures and woods, and along country roads. About one third of the hike is on roads, including a few miles at the start and more around Lenape, but the scenic sections where the trail closely follows the creek more than compensate for this. Two warm-up hikes in the weeks preceding the event give hikers an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the trail.

Participants check in before 5:00 a.m. at Brandywine Creek State Park for a bus shuttle to the trailhead for the hike start at 6:00 a.m.  The trail is marked with white blazes (see below) and hikers follow the route at their own pace with the aid of a printed trail guide.  Refreshments are provided at the three rest stops/checkpoints at 13, 23, and 29 miles.  For those unable to complete the hike, a shuttle service is available at the checkpoints, and will return them to Brandywine Creek State Park.   Our participants generally expect to reach at least the 23-mile mark, and most people finish the hike.

Please note: Although the terrain is not difficult, this is a serious long-distance hike and requires adequate preparation.  Participants must be experienced hikers, comfortable with distances of at least 15 miles.

Interpreting blazes -

Single blazes indicate that the trail goes straight ahead, but double blazes indicate a turn (as shown above):

Thanks to these sponsors from recent years:
  • Gore Outdoor
  • Recreational Equipment Inc (REI),
  • and Trail Creek Outfitters for helping to pay for the t-shirts.
  • Eastern Mountain Sports for providing the cookout at the final checkpoint.
  • Brandywine Picnic Park at Lenape for allowing us to use their facilities free of charge.


History of the Brandywine TrailMinimize

The Wilmington Trail Club began planning the Trail in 1941, shortly after the club was founded. Starting at Henry Clay, on the Brandywine River just south of the Hagley Museum , it was planned to follow the river valley north towards the Horseshoe Trail, which in its turn connects with the Appalachian Trail north of Harrisburg .  Permission was obtained from landowners, including four members of the du Pont family, and H. G. Haskell, owner of Hill Girt Farm, Chadds Ford.  Work commenced in 1942, and by 1948 the HT was reached near Bacton , PA , a distance of 28 miles.  During the 1970s, the Chester County Trail Club took over maintenance of the trail north of Chadds Ford, and the upper section was rerouted to join the HT at Horseshoe Trail Road near Ludwig's Corner, PA, making a total distance of approximately 36 miles.  In recent years, due to development at Rockland, access to the southernmost section has been lost, and the trail now crosses Rockland Bridge to terminate in Brandywine Creek State Park, on the west bank of the creek.

The trail is intended for exclusive use of members of the two maintaining clubs and their guests.  The main use of the trail occurs in the late winter and early spring when preparatory warm-up hikes are held for the annual End-to-End hike in one day.

Early End-to-End hikes were informal affairs with the hikers using their own vehicles for car-pooling and carrying their own supplies.  Around 1960, a few members decided to wait at the end with coffee and doughnuts for the hikers, and began the practice of recording finishing times.  Since then the hike has evolved to its present day format, with bus shuttle, trail guides, refreshment checkpoints and sweeps.  In past years, hikers clambering over the rocks opposite Hagley were cheered on from across the creek bank by the team at the final checkpoint near the entrance to the museum.  Hikers preparing to ascend the final hill now enjoy a welcome from the team looking out from a vantage point at the Hawk Watch Pavilion in Brandywine Creek State Park, where a celebratory cookout is provided.

Other Clubs' Long-Distance Hikes in the Mid-Atlantic AreaMinimize

Annual 100K hike from Washington to Harpers Ferry WV via the C&O Canal tow path
(Plus Concurrent 80-Kilometer and 50-Kilometer Options) Usually held in April.

Rachel Carson Trail Challenge
34 miles. Rugged terrain. Usually held in June.

Bald Eagle Mountain Megatransect
23 miles up and over Bald Eagle Mountain a number of times for a total elevation gain of 5425 feet.  Usually held in September.

The HAM (Hike Across Maryland)
40 miles across Maryland on the Appalachian Trail from Pen Mar to Harper's Ferry. Held first Saturday in May, biennially (odd # years). Organized by the Mountain Club of Maryland but since there is currently no information about the event on their site, visit as long as the page is available.

Susquehanna Super Hike
26 miles of rugged terrain with over 4,200’ elevation gain on the scenic rolling river hills of the lower Susquehanna River gorge. Held in September. This is organized by the Keystone Trails Association.