Are you looking for the best places to go kayaking in Maryland? WanderDC has rounded up some amazing places for you to explore.
Maryland is a beautiful state with spectacular wildlife and magnificent bodies of water that draw kayakers to paddle boarding.
Best Places To Go Kayaking In Maryland
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast looking for a new place to show off your kayaking skills, or just relax in your recreational kayak, look no further. Maryland’s kayak destinations cater to all levels of kayakers, so whether you’re a pro or just starting to learn how to kayak, you’re sure to have a memorable experience.
Below are our top 20 destinations for kayaking in Maryland. Each of these locations will allow you to explore the natural beauty of Maryland with every serving of water.
Kayaking On Maryland’s Eastern Shore
Let’s first start with the best places to go kayaking in Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
1. Tilghman Island
Tilghman Island is surrounded by waterways, and kayaking is just one of the many things you can do here. The best areas for kayaking on Tilghman Island include the Choptank and Tred Avon rivers, Harris Creek, and, of course, the open waters of Chesapeake Bay.
When kayaking around Tilghman Island you will see various wildlife species including ospreys, bald eagles, herons, and egrets. If you aren’t comfortable on your own, you can participate in a guided kayaking tour around Tilghman Island. If you don’t have you own kayak, several businesses in and around the island offer kayak rentals.
2. Assateague National Seashore
Assateague National Seashore is for sure one of the most popular tourist destinations in Maryland. In addition to having some beautiful beaches, this is also a popular place to kayak. The Assateague Outfitters is located not far from here. You can head there for kayak rentals and any other required gear.
It has an amazing view of the shoreline and has an amazing special thing for the kids: Ponies! These wild Ponies freely roam around the bank of the river and have inhabited this place for more than three hundred years. While you cannot ride them, you can have a stunning view of these ponies grazing the land as the kayak passes by. This is a great spot for the whole family.
3. Skipton Creek
Skipton Creek, also known as Mill Creek, is a very scenic water trail among the top kayaking spots in Maryland. Here, you have the opportunity to see a variety of wildlife, such as ospreys, great blue herons, turtles, frogs, beavers, kingfishers, and red-winged blackbirds. The area enjoys calm weather and calm waters most of the time, making it the perfect spot for novice kayakers.
Skipton is also an excellent place for lovers of greenery. Paddling a kayak through oak, walnut, black gum, and dogwood trees is an experience you won’t want to miss.
Bring your fishing gear and enjoy fishing from a kayak along with fallen tree branches. Just be careful when paddling, as drooping limbs can easily get caught.
4. Pocomoke River Trail And Tributaries
The Pocomoke River has a wetland area that extends for approximately 106 km. It’s some of the best kayaking and paddle boarding you can find in Maryland, allowing for some wildlife viewing. Expect to also see all kinds of birds, ducks, turtles, and geese on your trip down the river.
The lower part of the river empties into the Chesapeake Bay, while the upper part flows through a series of relatively inaccessible wetlands known as the Great Cypress Swamp. Paddle gently through the gently rushing waters and catch a variety of fish species such as panfish, largemouth bass, and even pike.
5. Janes Island State Park
Janes Island State Park is a gem on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It has a mix of water-based recreation and natural beauty. The park has over 30 miles of water trails. These trails travel through salt marshes, tidal ponds, and open water, giving kayakers a variety of places to explore.
Janes Island itself has over 2,900 acres of saltmarsh and over 30 miles of sandy beaches. Some trails lead to isolated beaches on Tangier Sound, providing a perfect spot for a secluded break or picnic.
6. Tangier Island – Only For Expert Kayakers
Tangier Island is located in the Chesapeake Bay. It is not accessible by road and it is about 12 miles from the mainland on both the Maryland and Virginia sides. Kayaking to the island involves crossing a significant stretch of open water, which can be affected by winds, tides, currents, and boat traffic. Boat traffic, especially larger vessels, can be a concern. It’s crucial to be visible (using flags or lights) and to be aware of shipping lanes and boat traffic.
This kayaking adventure is not a trip for beginners. You should be an experienced sea kayaker who is familiar with navigating open water, understanding tides and currents, and dealing with potential changes in weather. Be sure that you have a sea kayak designed for open water crossings. You should also have safety gear like a life jacket, a bilge pump, a paddle float, a VHF radio, and a GPS.
The Chesapeake Bay can become choppy, especially with changing weather or winds. It’s essential to check the weather forecast and be aware of tides, as they can affect the difficulty of the journey. Depending on your starting point, your paddling speed, and conditions, reaching Tangier Island could take several hours.
Most people do not kayak to Tangier Island but take much larger boats to get there. It can be a wonderful place to visit, but be sure to get there safely.
7. Tuckahoe State Park Queen Anne
Tuckahoe State Park is a fantastic destination for a family day out. You can enjoy a peaceful kayak ride on the lake, where you and your kids can observe the stunning wildlife and lush vegetation. For those seeking a bit more adventure, head to the creek area, where you’ll encounter swifter currents, perfect for an exciting kayaking experience.
But kayaking isn’t the only activity on offer at Tuckahoe State Park. You can also explore hiking trails and even set up camp if you’re looking for an extended outdoor adventure. Plus, during the fall, the park transforms into a picturesque spot to witness the vibrant foliage of Maryland. It’s a versatile and beautiful place to enjoy the outdoors with your family.
Kayaking In Maryland Near Washington DC And Baltimore
Not looking to go too far from the DC or Baltimore? There are plenty of nearby places that you can kayak (and hike!) for a great time outdoors.
8. Chesapeake And Ohio Canal Park (C&O Canal)
Also known as the C&O Canal, this National Historic Park offers paddling opportunities on selected segments of the Canal and the Potomac River. The park allows visitors to engage in various recreational activities such as bicycling, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, and rowing. It has calm waters and is an ideal location for kayaking and canoeing in the Georgetown landscape.
One of the entrances to this park is located in Potomac, Maryland. Rental services are available at Fletcher’s Boathouse on the canal. You can rent stand-up paddle boards and even kids’ stand-up paddle boards (for those who will be bringing their little ones along for the paddling). Fortunately, the currents are not very strong here. You can paddle the river down the river to Georgetown and back without much effort.
9. Potomac River
The Potomac River, nicknamed the nation’s river, is a great place for boating enthusiasts visiting Maryland. It is a historic part of Maryland that offers a variety of paddling experiences from the tidal zone to the rapids at the big drop. You can launch your kayak into the water and enjoy paddling along this stretch of the river.
Along the Potomac River, there are several locations offering kayak lessons and guided tours. The inhabitants of the area enjoy walking along the banks of the river, where they sometimes dare to ride its waves while kayaking.
During the winter, the Potomac River becomes extremely cold, so it is recommended to dress warmly and pack the proper winter kayaking gear for a safe and comfortable paddling experience.
10. Great Falls Park And The Potomac Gorge
The Potomac River Gorge is a great place for paddling activities like surfing waves and taking lessons, and it’s close to our capital city. People love living in DC because there are so many opportunities for outdoor activities and this park is very close to the city center.
But, with many fun things to do there, it’s important to remember it can be dangerous. Over the past ten years, some people have drowned, gotten hurt, or lost their gear. The river moves very fast, especially after it goes through the Great Falls and the narrow Mather Gorge. The river can get more difficult quickly, even in one day, so always be careful and stay safe!
11. Triadelphia Reservoir
Triadelphia Reservoir is located on the Patuxent River. This is a man-made reservoir that features serene nature and calm waters throughout the year. It is one of the best kayaking spots for beginners with no navigational hassles and currents to think about.
You can find this kayaking site by just following Greenbridge Road to the end. You can’t find any kayak rental services in the area, but it’s not too far from Baltimore or Washington DC. You can buy all your equipment from there.
However, you must have a license if you want to paddle the Triadelphia Reservoir. If you want to have a license, you can visit the wildlife and local fish office to get one for you and your buddies.
12. Lake Centennial
Lake Centennial in Ellicott City is one of the most famous places to go kayaking with your family and friends, including kids. The late is stretched over an expanse of 54 acres.
While kayaking, you can spot over 32 species of waterfowl and 320 species of birds. These include little gulls, cackling geese, swallows, grebes, and warblers.
There is also a picnic area where you can spend time picnicking and fishing. To conclude, it’s an amazing place to spend some quality time with your family and friends and rent kayaks to explore the surrounding areas and the lake.
13. Gunpowder River
The Gunpowder River, located under an hour from Baltimore, is another favorite for kayakers. There are enough tricky spots along the river, making it one of the best areas for those looking to pull off more intense kayak stunts. However, if you are going to visit this location, be sure to learn basic kayak self-rescue techniques so that you can stay out of harm’s way in case your boat capsizes.
You can kayak the Gunpowder River year-round, but the waters can get very cold during winter. So, if you’re booking your trip in winter, be sure to pack your best winter kayaking gear to keep you warm. Strong currents can be experienced during the cold season, so always have your life jacket on just in case.
14. Hawk Cove, Rocky Point State Park
Looking for a relaxing and easy paddle for the weekend that is just 30 minutes from Baltimore? Then be sure to consider Hawk Cove. Families enjoy coming here to eat at the cafe and then going on their kayaking route. You can set off easily from the shoreline just next to the restaurant!
Hawk Cove’s surrounding area protects it from most inclement wind and weather, allowing for a very tranquil paddle. However, if you are looking for a challenge, you can kayak out to Hart-Miller Island. You can check out Rocky Point Kayak to get your equipment on rent and must consider route guides to keep your trip on track.
Kayaking In Northern And Central Maryland
If you’re looking for kayaking in Central Maryland, take a look at these spots.
15. Monocacy Scenic River
If you are near Frederick, Maryland, then this is a great place to go kayaking. The Monocacy River is famous as “the river with many bends.” With almost 42 miles of water trail to explore, this can be a perfect paddling location. If you are planning to kayak on Monocacy River, then you must bring your life jacket approved by the US Coast Guard as the Monocacy River is Potomac’s tributary.
The river flows through significant landscapes. These landscapes were once settlements of Native Americans. These landscapes were also essential during the Civil War. The Monocacy River can offer you a calm paddling experience, with wildlife and little distraction from urban development.
16. Deep Creek Lake
Deep Creek Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Maryland with plenty of things to do. Deep Creek Lake and the surrounding area has a variety of recreational activities, such as hiking, fishing, kayaking, golfing, and canoeing. It is about 3 hours from the District of Columbia and targets Virginia and Maryland. Deep Creek is a 4-season area, so you can schedule your trip for any time of year, whether its for summer activities or snow tubing.
Taking a sunrise kayak around the lake will allow you to enjoy the beautiful and serene ambient temperatures. Slice the waters in a calm environment and enjoy an incredible view during that time. Rental services are available here for a small fee.
17. Youghiogheny River
The Youghiogheny River, referred to by many as the “Yough,” was the first wild river to flow north into Maryland. It is so popular for whitewater kayaking, rafting, and canoeing. Paddlers of all experience levels flock here to enjoy the sport.
Youghiogheny River originates in West Virginia, runs through a portion of Maryland, and then continues into Pennsylvania. If you want to kayak, you should head to the section of the Youghiogheny River near Friendsville, Maryland. This area is renowned among white-water enthusiasts. This stretch of the river, known as the “Upper Yough,” has Class IV and V rapids and offers one of the most challenging white-water experiences in the Eastern U.S.
Swallow Falls State Park is located near Oakland, Maryland, and this state park provides access to the river. It’s a scenic spot with waterfalls, and while the park area is more known for its natural beauty than its paddling, it’s a starting or ending point for some river trips.
If you love a challenge, then the Youghiogheny River should be at the top of your list. You can rent your equipment here, including a white water kayak and other kayak accessories you may need to make your paddling comfortable.
18. Havre De Grace
This charming town is located at the point where the Susquehanna River meets the Chesapeake Bay. It has several marinas and launch points suitable for kayaks. Susquehanna State Park is located near Havre de Grace. This park offers a beautiful scenic view of the river, and it’s a popular spot for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. The park also has boat ramps available.
19. Eden Mill Park
Eden Mill Park is one of the most scenic places to kayak in Maryland. It is located about half way between Baltimore and Wilmington. It is good for smaller kayaks as the creek water is calm. Beginner kayakers can rent a boat of their choice and enjoy a flat water float.
The kayaking area is just over a mile away in attractive scenery. The view of the historic mill at Eden Mill Park is simply stunning. This is also an excellent opportunity to see wildlife. You may even see a deer jump at the old mill!
20. Dundee Creek
Dundee Creek is among the prettiest streams outside the city of Baltimore. It is a beautiful marsh ecosystem designed naturally to explore the abundant flooded marine flora and fauna, such as bald eagles, herons, ospreys, and sea turtles. Rent different types of kayaks on site and enjoy the beautiful scenery and calm waters.
There is a launch site for kayaks and canoes where paddlers can choose where to go. Whether going right or left, you can paddle out to the Gunpowder River as the cove opens to the Chesapeake Bay. Along the way, there are different places, such as beaches, where you can pause and enjoy a picnic.
Kayaking In Southern Maryland
If you’re looking for kayaking in Southern Maryland, here are a couple places to check out.
21. Thorne Gut Marsh
Thorne Gut Marsh is among the best kayaking spots in Maryland. With an excellent and fresh natural environment, Thorne Gut offers several adventurous areas to explore. Motorboats are not allowed here. This means that you can only use a paddle kayak to explore the waters and surroundings.
The area is also great for fishing, so if you love angling, be sure to bring your fishing kayak with you. For bird lovers, the sounds of geese, bald eagles, and other area waterfowl will soothe your soul with every paddle.
22. Cobb Island
Cobb Island is a small island located in Charles County, Maryland. It is known for its serene environment, waterfront views, and a small, close-knit community. Historically, the island was used for farming and fishing. It became more established as a residential area in the early 20th century. Now, the island has a mix of permanent homes as well as vacation properties.
Surrounded by water, Cobb Island offers beautiful waterfront views, boating opportunities, and kayaking launch points. spots. You can paddle in the quieter waters of the Wicomico River, Neale Sound, or venture out into the broader expanse of the Potomac River. While kayaking, you may see various bird species, fish, and other marine life.
There are so many places to kayakying in Maryland. You will find something for different weather seasons as well as for different difficulty levels. As with all kayak trips, be sure to prepare properly and purchase the right equipment before you set out.