Though you might not have guessed it, one of the best ways to see Maryland is by water. Maryland's vast network of water trails provides a unique look at the state's diverse geographical landscape and history.
Whether you enjoy the rush of a the rapids or the gentle lull of a lazy river, a daytrip, or an extended trek, Maryland has it all.
A journey down the Potomac River Water Trail provides an opportunity to see the the broad topographical mosaic and beauty the state has to offer. The trail extends from the shorelines of western Maryland to the Chesapeake Bay, featuring natural and historic sites such Smallwood State Park and Point Lookout State Park.
Beginning near Pennsylvania and emptying into the Potomac River is the Monocacy River. Those looking to explore the natural wonders of Maryland can now enjoy a 41.4-mile self-guided tour on the newly-opened Monocacy Water Trail, which covers the lower part of the river. Shaded by sycamores, maples, and oaks, it passes Civil War landscapes and areas once home to American Indians and early European settlers.
The 110 miles of the Patuxent Water Trailway, which has the distinction of being the longest river to flow entirely within Maryland, are also lined with historic sites, natural parks, as well as camp grounds. Filled with miles of hiking trails and an interactive visitors center with plenty of events and programs, the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum is one stop on the Patuxent you'll want to rest your paddles. Or if you're looking for a little rowing repose in the wilderness, you can pitch your tent at one of the many campgrounds along the way. Some, like White Oak Landing are only acccessible by water.
For sea lovers, there are six water trails around Kent Island on the Eastern Shore offering varying degrees of difficulty. Follow the Kent Island Water Trails map for information on paddling routes and access points around the Chesapeake Bay and nearby creeks. Or paddle down any of the water trails along the Pocomoke River, such as the Bog Iron Water Trail, EA Vaughn Kayak Trail and the Sinepuxent Bay Water Trail.
Located near Crisfield on Maryland's Eastern Shore, Janes Island State Park offers more than 30 miles of marked water trails throughout the island's over 2,900 acres salt marsh. Many of the water trails are protected from wind, allowing even the most novice paddler to enjoy. The area also includes a campground, rental cabins, picnic areas and pavilions.
The Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center, located in Grasonville, also offers paddling experiences with water views and an opportunity to see the diverse aquatic and bird life of the Bay. Glide around Marshy Creek, the Narrows and Prospect Bay in a canoe or kayak, or sign up for a Guided Kayak Tour, offered monthly May through October. Even more, beginning in May, visitors to Northside Park in Ocean City can experience the Bay on a rented kayak or stand-up paddleboard (SUP). Patrons can rent a single or tandem kayak, or a soft top 10-foot SUP by the hour, half-day or full day. View more Insiders Guides to Maryland.