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Kayaking In Delaware – The BEST Places to Kayak in the First State

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The First State has many beautiful waterways that can be best explored with a paddle. From scenic creeks and rivers to peaceful ponds and coastal bays, there   are opportunities for paddling through nature preserves and historic towns.

To inspire your next paddling trip, we have put together a guide to some of the best places to go kayaking in Delaware. 

Upper Delaware river bends DEPin

7 Best Places To Kayak & Canoe In Delaware

1: Trap Pond State Park

Trap Pond State Park can be one of the most scenic and relaxing spots to paddle in Delaware. One of the highlights of this peaceful location is the bald cypress swamp, which you can paddle through, following the Terrapin Branch Water Trail.

This can be a great place for beginners and families, with flatwater conditions and easy, short paddling distances. Kayaks and canoes are available for rent in the park, and there are also docks and a boat ramp to launch your own vessel.

Trap Pond can also be a good place to spot wildlife, particularly birds, and there is a nature center on-site. You’ll also find a beautiful campground on the north shore of the pond, next to the boat ramp.

If you’re looking to kayak fish, you can find crappie, catfish, bass, and bluegill (make sure you bring your fishing license).

How to get there:
From Laurel, take Route 24 east to Trap Pond Road. The boat launch and boat rentals are both located just off Trap Pond Road within the state park.

2: Mispillion River

The Mispillion River can offer a relaxing trip as the river winds its way from Milford to Delaware Bay. Paddling from the public boat ramp in Milford (behind the police department), it can be around a six-hour trip to the take-out at the Slaughter Beach boat ramp on Cedar Creek.

The trip takes you through natural surroundings with plenty of opportunities to view wildlife as you paddle towards the coast. The trail also passes through Milford Neck Wildlife Area. The river is mostly slow-moving and flat, with occasionally up to Class II rapids.

You can rent kayaks and canoes from River Adventures in downtown Milford, and you can arrange a shuttle to pick you up when you hit the beach.

How to get there:
Milford can be reached from the north or south via Route 1 and US-113. The public launch is on NE Front Street in Milford next to the police station. The take-out is at Cedar Creek just off Cedar Beach Road (Route 36) from Milford.

3: Delaware River

While much of the Delaware River flows outside of the state, Fort DuPont State Park can be a fantastic place to launch into the river. From the state park, you can also explore the surrounding canals.  

This can be an interesting place to paddle, with historic gun batteries around the park, as well as other historic buildings and sites that date from the Civil War. Some of these buildings might be better viewed on foot.

There’s also the opportunity to paddle the short distance towards Pea Patch Island, in the middle of the Delaware River. This is an important wildlife refuge for birds. You can paddle close to it or around it, but you’re not allowed to land anywhere on the island. Access to the island is only allowed via the ferry from Delaware City.

Kayak rentals are available at Delaware City Marina.

How to get there:
Fort Dupont State Park is located in Delaware City, just off Route 9. It’s around 15 miles south of Wilmington.

4: Broadkill River

The Broadkill River flows from the town of Milton and empties into the Delaware Bay. It flows through forests, coastal marshes, and a scenic nature preserve, which can give you lots of chances to view wildlife.

The water is generally flat until you reach the coast and it can be paddled in either direction if you want to return to your starting point for a full day of paddling.

A good spot to launch is at the public ramp at Milton Memorial Park. From here you can paddle around five hours to Lewes, where you can paddle out into the bay at Roosevelt Inlet.

You can rent kayaks in Milton by reserving ahead of time or you can rent them from the outlet on the beach at Roosevelt Inlet.

How to get there:
From Route 1, head west on Broadkill Road (Route 16). The launch is just off Chandler Street, behind the library.

5: Rehoboth Bay

Rehoboth Bay is a sheltered bay, protected by barrier islands on Delaware’s Atlantic Coast. The bay features salt marshes and maritime forests. It can be a great place for all skill levels, including beginners.

There are several places to launch, including at Savage Ditch in Delaware Seashore State Park. From here you can paddle around some of the islands, such as Burton Island Nature Preserve. This can be an ideal location for birdwatching.

You can also explore the northern end of the bay by launching at Dewey Beach, where you can also rent kayaks or take a tour. From this location, you can explore creeks or paddle up the canal linking the bay with Lewes and the Broadkill River.

You can also paddle close to the ancient burial sites on Thompson Island, just across from Dewey Beach. There can also be plenty of wildlife around here too and you might even spot a bald eagle.

How to get there:
Dewey Beach and Delaware Seashore State Park are both located just off Route 1, around 15 to 20 minutes drive south of Lewes.

6: Killens Pond State Park

Killens Pond is a 66-acre millpond that can be a peaceful place to paddle with lots of wildlife to be spotted. There are even resident nesting bald eagles to watch out for. The pond lies within Killens Pond State Park, where you’ll find a boat launch. And you can rent kayaks and canoes on-site, near the nature center.

The flatwater pond can be great for new paddlers but it can also be ideal for kayak anglers. Bass, sunfish, catfish, and crappie can all be found in the pond. Remember to have your Delaware fishing license with you before you cast your line.

As well as a relaxing paddle around the lake, you can also head up the Murderkill River on the canoe trail underneath the footbridge.

How to get there:
Killens Pond State Park is just off the US-13 (South Dupont Highway). From the highway, take Killens Pond Road to the state park entrance. To reach the boat ramp, continue on Killens Pond Road to the eastern side of the pond.

7: Little Assawoman Bay

Little Assawoman Bay lies at the southeastern corner of Delaware, close to the Maryland border. The waters are generally calm, with coastal breezes from the Atlantic. There is plenty of wildlife around, with a large portion of the northern bay area being protected by the Assawoman Bay State Wildlife Area.

Fenwick Island State Park has a boat ramp just off Route 1 which can be handy for paddling around the wildlife area and into the creek. There are various landings where you can stop for a rest or a picnic. There are also islands, such as Point of Cedars, and marshes that are home to lots of birds.

You can also head south to paddle along the canals of Fenwick Island, dotted with pretty waterfront homes.

Kayak rentals are available on the beach opposite the main entrance to Fenwick Island State Park.

How to get there:
Little Assawoman Bay is located just off Route 1. The boat ramp and kayak rental office are both located at Fenwick Island State Park and both are just off Route 1. The kayak outfitter is on the beach around two miles south of the boat ramp.

What Are The Kayak Laws In Delaware?

US Coast GuardPin

There are a few rules and laws you need to follow while paddling in Delaware. These are just some of them, so remember to research your intended location to check what the local rules are before you set off.

●    A PFD is required for each person on a kayak or canoe. The PFD must be approved by the US Coast Guard and be in serviceable condition and the correct size for the wearer.
●    Children under 14 must wear a US Coast Guard PFD at all times while paddling or a passenger.
●    Registration is not required for non-motorized kayaks. Kayaks and canoes with trolling motors will need to be registered.
●    Boating Under the Influence (BUI) is illegal in Delaware. This includes alcohol and drugs. You will be considered intoxicated with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or greater.
●    Visual Distress Signals (VDS) for night use are required on kayaks if paddled on coastal waters between sunset and sunrise.
●    A white light is required to be displayed while paddling at night on any waters. This can be a flashlight.

Kayak Rentals And Tours Around DE

All of the best paddling destinations can be easily accessed with your own vessel but if you’d prefer to rent one, you’ll find outfitters located near all of our favorite spots.

●    Trap Pond Boat Rental (Trap Pond State Park - rentals)
●    Delaware River Adventures (Mispillion River - rentals)
●    Delaware City Marina (Delaware River - rentals )
●    Quest Kayak (Broadkill River - rentals and tours)
●    Delmarva Board Sport Adventures (Rehoboth Bay - rentals and tours)
●    Killens Pond State Park Boat Rentals (Killens Pond - rentals)
●    Coastal Kayak (Little Assawoman Bay - rentals and tours)

Rounding Up

Kayaking in Delaware can be a great way to escape the crowds and experience nature at your own pace. There are lots of waterways to choose from and many can be ideal for beginners, anglers and experienced paddlers.

Remember if you’re heading out kayak fishing, to make sure you have your license on you.

We’d love to hear about your paddling adventures, so leave us a comment. Inspire others to kayak in Delaware by sharing this. 

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