Things To Do

Things To Do > Paddle a Water Trail

Please note that boating, canoeing, kayaking and other activities on rivers can be dangerous. Obtain a water trail map and guide, plan your route, carry proper gear, check the weather conditions and tides, and have a plan for changing weather conditions. Practice Leave no Trace ethics while out on the trail, respect private property, and recognize that you are sharing the water with other boaters.  Learn more about water safety.

If you are new to boating, consider taking a day trip with a canoe/kayak outfitter or a tour boat captain first. If you want to go exploring in your own boat, take a boating safety and operation course. The US Coast Guard provides a list of places <use link used on CAJO site> where you can take safety courses, which are offered throughout the country for all ages and all types of boating. While you’re at it, take courses in CPR and first aid.

Sassafras River Water Trail

The Sassafras River traces the shores of Maryland's Cecil and Kent counties for more than 20 miles before reaching its confluence with the Chesapeake Bay between Howell Point and Grove Point. The Sassafras River Water Trail follows the tributary river and begins near the town of Sassafras, Maryland, in a heavily wooded corridor featuring shallow water and an average width of only 20-some feet. After passing under the Route 301 bridge, the river widens and the landscape transitions from woodland to farmland with a few communities interspersed along the way.

The twin ports of Georgetown and Fredericktown dominate the scenery downriver of the Route 213 bridge, as both communities serve as busy ports for recreational boating. Between Turner's Creek and the mouth of the Sassafras, dramatic cliffs line both sides of the river. The forested cliffs provide the ideal habitat for nesting bald eagles, and the birds can often be spotted soaring overhead.

Despite its relatively small size, the Sassafras is a popular destination for powerboats, paddle craft, and workboats. As such, it can be especially busy on weekends from May through October. For paddlers seeking peace and quiet, the Sassafras offers numerous creeks whose shallow waters are accessible by only the smallest vessels. For public access information, download a water trail guide.

Learn more about the Sassafras River Water Trail.

Potomac River Water Trail

At nearly 100 miles long, the Potomac River Water Trail is rich in historical and natural resources and offers stretches suitable for kayaks, canoes, and powerboats. Beginning in Washington, DC, the tidal stretch of the Potomac River passes numerous historical sites—including Alexandria, Virginia; Mount Vernon; Fort Washington Park; the George Washington Birthplace National Monument; Stratford Hall Plantation, birthplace of Robert E. Lee; St. Clement’s Island, where the colony of Maryland began; and Point Lookout—before flowing into the Chesapeake Bay.

Along the river, parks and refuges help protect wildlife and restore the ecosystems damaged by centuries of timber harvesting, mining, and water diversion for transportation and industry. These parks, including Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Caledon Natural Area, and Westmoreland State Park, have enabled the return of bald eagles, shad, and other wildlife.

The Potomac River Water Trail Guide will help you explore this river, parts of which have changed little since colonial times.

Learn more about the Potomac River Water Trail.

Patuxent River Water Trail

The Patuxent River Water Trail offers visitors the opportunity to paddle the river, camp along its banks and visit numerous parks, historic sites, sanctuaries, and wildlife areas. At 110 miles long, the Patuxent is the longest river flowing entirely within the state of Maryland.

From its source at Parrs Ridge in Carroll County to Drum Point on the Chesapeake Bay, the Patuxent River is known for its natural beauty. Dense woodlands buffer the upper reaches while farmlands dominate the southern stretch. Archaeological and cultural resources tell the story of 10,000 years of human habitation. Download a water trail map or GPS-ready map for the lower non-tidal Patuxent, or order a detailed Navigation Map. You can also pick up a map at Patuxent River Park.

Learn more about the Patuxent River Water Trail.

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