The University of Delaware is perhaps the main reason anyone that’s not from Delaware would wind up in Newark. So whether you’re touring the school as a prospective student or visiting your recently enrolled progeny, you’ll need to find things to do while you’re in town. If you’re a lover of the outdoors, you’re in luck, despite the lack of true wilderness in the university’s immediate vicinity.
The Newark Reservoir is a beautiful 1.8 mile walk around an artificial lake built to store a reserve of water for the city after a drought in the Nineties. I use the word “walk” purposefully; the entire loop is paved nice and evenly, making it a distinct experience from hiking. If it’s a hike you’re after, you’re not out of luck, as there are connectors attached to the Reservoir loop to trails in William M. Redd Park (or you can just head to White Clay Creek State Park and hit some of those trails instead. They’re all interconnected and hide some very interesting spots, including one particularly historical site. However, the Reservoir is closer to Newark’s Main Street and has plenty of parking, so there’s plenty of reason to go there itself.
Part of that reason is the beauty. Rather than dug into the ground, the city of Newark either took the top off a nearby hill or built up a bowl of earth and then filled it. The result is a path with wonderful views of the surrounding area (including the bulk of Newark proper) and excellent sunsets. The hill is certainly a solid warmup as you go from the parking lot to the top, but once up there, it’s a nice flat loop around the water that at a comfortable pace took us less than an hour to complete a single circuit.
The Newark Reservoir is enormously easy to find, too. Newark’s Main Street is one way, flowing like a river with its head at Kirkwood Highway all the way down to the ubiquitous Deer Park Tavern. At the top, you’ll find Newark Shopping Center, home to several restaurants and a movie theater. If you go right out of the shopping center onto Main Street and then right on Chapel (it’ll be the first light), then stay straight through the next couple of lights, and go right at the one where Curtis Mill Park is on your left. Now you’ll be on Old Paper Mill Road and the parking lot will be on your left.
Spring is here, and this reservoir loop is a wonderful way to enjoy the warming weather. Soon the trees will bloom, and at that point this park will be even more beautiful, which will truly be a sight to behold. If you’re in town, I strongly encourage you to check it out; such beauty in Northern Delaware is an absolute treasure.