Explore Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge

Bombay Hook NWR Visitor Center, Smyrna, Delaware, United States

  • Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    12 Miles

Easy Parking

Discover this unique habitat for hiking, birding, photography, and incredible scenery

Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge is one of the largest expanses of tidal salt marsh in the mid-Atlantic, and is nestled on the Eastern shores of Kent County, Delaware. 

Upon arriving at the refuge, there is a small visitor center with maps, a video presentation, restrooms, and educational exhibits. There is a small admission fee, and the visitor center is the easiest place to pay. 

A 12 mile driving loop takes you throughout the refuge with places you can stop to hike, observe wildlife, or climb one of the observation towers to get a better view of the landscape.

Highlights of the driving loop include, in the order of appearance:

  1. Raymond Tower Trail: a 0.25 mile trail to the observation tower overlooking Raymond Pool
  2. Boardwalk Trail: a 0.25 mile boardwalk loop that offers fantastic views of the salt marshes
  3. Shearness Tower Trail: a 0.25 mile walk to the observation tower overlooking Shearness Pool, and a great place to observe flocks of birds
  4. Parsons Point Trail: a 1 mile trail into the forested area near Shearness Pool. There was not much to see on this trail, and it could be skipped if time is short
  5. Bear Swamp Trail: a 0.25 mile loop to to the Bear Swamp Observation Tower. There is also a small dock adjacent to the tower, which is a great place to catch reptiles basking in the sun. 

Continue along the driving loop to exit the refuge.

Pack List

  • Vehicle for the driving loop
  • Bug spray
  • Good walking shoes
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Water
  • Admission fee
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Overall rating: 

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You can drive with several small hikes or you can park and ride a bike or walk all or part of the loop. I have only been in winter and seen many species of ducks/geese. I have seen eagles and hawks. Lucky folks may see an owl. I have also seen a fox there. There is a charge to get in in a Dropbox and you need exact change.

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

Abby Shepard Explorer

Advocating outdoor adventure and chasing sunsets, all with a serious case of wanderlust.

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