Ride of the centuries (suitable for all ages)

“It is history that teaches us to hope,” a wise general once wrote. I thought of that today while studying the headstones at Village Point Park Preserve in Daphne. The sweet cemetery bears witness that this was ranchland belonging to the D’Olive family in the 1700s, long before this was a city, or part of a state, or even an independent nation.

Village Point Park Preserve

The park is an estuary for wildlife and home to State Champion Trees. It is also a convenient place to start a ride or a walk along the Eastern Shore Trail, with public parking dawn to dusk, picnic tables and restrooms, bike racks, and nature trails. Directly outside the park gate, cross Scenic 98 (Main Street) to get on the Eastern Shore Trail, which is well-marked and a sidewalk here, level and shady. Less than a mile south, cross Whispering Pines Road to rest on a bench under a generous oak. The sidewalk continues behind the Daphne Library then skirts the massive steel dreidel sculpture, “Luminosity.”

As you approach a four-way stop at Santa Rosa Avenue, note a collection of whimsical metal sculptures on the left and Daphne Elementary School ahead on the right. Cross Scenic 98 here to stay on the Trail (sidewalk) in front of the school.

Olde Towne Daphne

The sidewalks cross several low-density neighborhood street outlets. When you spot Lott Park ballfields and tennis courts on your left, the compact commercial district lies just ahead. Yield to pedestrians on busy fair-weather weekends. Little Bethel Baptist Church and cemetery, at the corner of Magnolia Avenue, has a special history dating to the mid 1800s. Take a moment to cross Scenic 98, read the historic sign in front, and contemplate the lives (at the gravesites) of those early residents.

Back on the sidewalk, pass the City Hall complex and then Christ the King Catholic Church and school. Just beyond it, look for the directional arrow to cross Scenic 98 again to stay on the Trail (sidewalk). Half a mile south is W.J. Carroll Intermediate School, and a directional sign for the Black Educational Museum. Next to a small white clapboard building, a plaque explains the history of Black education on the Eastern Shore, which had humble beginnings here in 1889.

On your return trip, take your time, and enjoy the shops and eateries in “contemporary” Olde Towne Daphne. Look for other historic signs on the route. Total travel distance is 5.5 miles round trip. (27710 Main Street to 1000 Main Street, Daphne)