An open pit iron mine from before recorded history until the early 20th century, Iron Hill was allowed to revert to the beautiful natural wooded area that is now the 335-acre Iron Hill Park. The non-profit Friends of Iron Hill Park was established in March of 2008 and comprises people who share an interest in the Park and are willing to volunteer some of their time to work with New Castle County to promote family activities within the Park. We promote projects, programs, and educational opportunities that help meet the demand for outdoor recreation and natural resource protection.
The park entrance is Robert L. Melson Lane, off Old Baltimore Pike, just east of the Iron Hill Museum and west of Route 896 in Newark, Delaware, 19702. The old entrance on Whittaker is closed.
The Friends of Iron Hill Park sponsors a popular guided park hike the third Saturday of every month through October.
Here’s a message from Pat Fett, who leads the hikes:
It’s a nice family activity; come take a hike! By the way, if you take an interesting photo or two, send ’em to the site admin and maybe they’ll get put up on the pictures page.
The bark park
One of the most popular attractions in Iron Hill Park is a two-section dog exercise area, one area for small dogs and one for larger dogs. If you have a reasonably well-behaved dog who is up to date on its shots, come visit for some socializing! If your dog’s socializing turns into an altercation, be sure to exchange phone numbers in case you have to visit the veterinarian and your vet needs the other dog’s shot record. Sorry to be sticky about this, but it’s important. Poop is another important thing. Use the supplied baggies (or your own) to pick up your dog’s doo-doo. One last thing: the bark park is the only location in Iron Hill Park where a dog may be off leash.
Iron Hill supports several outdoor activities. There’s a large playground next to the dog park for human puppies.
The park has an extensive, professionally-designed disc golf course, one of the largest around. (If you find a lost golf disc, you can put it into the large disc rescue bin and the local disc club will find a good home for it.)
Several geocaches are hidden in the park, and you can travel on miles of trails for hiking and bicycle trail riding (here’s a map) and relax in several picnic areas. By the way, it’s tempting, but don’t make any new bike trails. Trails require special permission and construction techniques, and if they catch you making a “volunteer” one, you can get into trouble.
Like to party? Want to reserve the pavilion? We don’t take reservations, but the county does. Go here: http://nccde.org/420/Permits . It’s toward the bottom of the page. You have to go through a couple more pages to complete the online permit application.
Want to be a friend of Iron Hill Park?
Look over the Volunteering and Donations pages on this site to see what interests you, and use the Contact us page if you have any questions or comments. We are always looking for new folks.
The Donations page lists some businesses and individuals who graciously support the Friends. Please thank them!
Iron Hill Museum
The museum is on the south edge of the Park. They are a fine organization. Visit their website: http://www.ironhill-museum.org
Research at Iron Hill Park
Outside agencies sometimes conduct scientific research in Iron Hill Park. We know of six current projects, all from the University of Delaware—one researching soil composition, three studying insects, and one about birds. You might see some insect traps hanging from poles, or low white boxes. They aren’t poisonous, but don’t mess with them. (It offends the bugs.)
One that appeared recently near Whittaker looks like a tent. It catches native bees. We don’t know much about woodland bees, and this is a good way to learn about them: Catch some and see what you get! Maybe it’ll help us understand what’s going on in all those diseased honeybee hives. The project is a joint venture of UD and the USGS.
Another project, a joint partnership between the University of Delaware and the USFS, is about learning what kinds of critters and vegetation live in these small, fragmented woodlands like Iron Hill Park.
Research areas are marked by colored flags or ribbons. If you see these, please steer clear of the area and leave the markers undisturbed. On the other hand, if you see a car parked by the area and a researcher nearby, they will most likely be happy to tell you about their project. For general questions or comments, call (302) 738-5529.