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Top Kayaking Destinations In Maryland

Mark Armstrong
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With countless creeks and rivers, Maryland can be a watersports enthusiast’s paradise.

From whitewater rapids to the famous Chesapeake Bay, this Old Line State has plenty of opportunities for getting out there on the water.

But where are the best places for kayaking in Maryland? Are there areas that are safe for beginners? Are there any wild rapids?

Well, to answer those questions, we have put together some useful information to guide you to the best paddling spots in the state.

Kayaking In Maryland - Full GuidePin

Recommended Maryland Kayaking Spots

With kayaking opportunities galore, how do you know which ones are the best? It really depends on what you’re looking for but when you’re in Maryland, these four destinations are definitely worth checking out.

> Also check out our kayak near me map

Deep Creek Lake

In the northwestern corner of Maryland lies the largest man-made lake in the state. Deep Creek Lake is home to 3,900 acres of water where you can paddle along the shoreline and into the various coves and inlets.

Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, such as birds of prey and black bears and if you fancy a wild overnight stay there are camping facilities in Deer Creek Lake State Park, where there is also access to fishing.

There are a few places where you can rent yaks on the lake. The Aquatic Center in McHenry has single sit-on-tops for $16 for an hour (August 2017) and tandem sit-on-tops for $23 for an hour, with hourly rates discounted for rentals of 2 hours or more.

They also offer daily rentals if you’re looking to head out to explore for a few days, with prices starting at $35 for one day up to $89 for 7 days for a single kayak.

Youghiogheny River

Just west of Deep Creek Lake you’ll find the Youghiogheny River, a northwards flowing river that was the first designated Wild River in Maryland. While most of the river flows through private land, there are public access points at Swallow Falls State Park, in Sang Run and in Friendsville.

The area of the Upper Yough features Class 3 to 5 whitewater rapids, so it’s advised that only experienced paddlers should attempt to kayak through this.

There are guided tours and lessons available from Precision Rafting Expeditions in Friendsville, where you can paddle through rapids in an inflatable kayak or raft or you can opt for a more relaxed experience and paddle along the calmer section.

Interactive Map Of Maryland

Dundee Creek

Just outside the city of Baltimore you’ll find Dundee Creek, an area of inlets and marshy coves that open out into the wider Chesapeake Bay. Dundee Creek has calm waters, ideal for beginners and those wanting a more relaxed paddling experience.

Take in the beautiful scenery and the abundance of wildlife, such as bald eagles, ospreys and herons. There are plenty of places, such as beaches, where you can stop for a rest or enjoy a picnic. You can also paddle up the Gunpowder River.

Eastern Watersports is a great option for kayak rentals and tours in the Dundee Creek area. They also have nearby locations at Hammerman and Miami Beach.

Potomac River

Kayaking In Great Falls MarylandPin

Don’t miss a chance to paddle along this famous stretch of water. Steeped in history, the Potomac River offers a range of different paddling experiences, from the tidal zone as it flows into the Chesapeake Bay to the rapids at the Great Falls.

Potomac Paddlesports has a number of Maryland locations along the Potomac River, offering kayaking lessons and guided tours along various stretches of the river. Their tours start from $95 for a 3 to 4 hour trip, including moonlight trips.

It’s also possible to paddle along the Potomac following the trail of Captain John Smith – the famous explorer who voyaged around the area in the early 1600s – by kayaking along the scenic Smith National Historic Trail. 

Video: Kayaking – Running The VA Lines – Great Falls, Potomac MD

Tuckahoe State Park

Tuckahoe State Park KayakingPin
Courtesy: Maryland GovPics on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Located in Queen Anne, Tuckahoe State Park can be a great place to kayak if you’re a beginner or if you’re looking for a calm, family-friendly location. Tuckahoe State Park is home to the 60 acre Lake Tuckahoe and Tuckahoe Creek. It has restrooms, picnic areas and a visitor center, with other activities available for family members who want to stay on land.

There are canoe and kayak rentals available within the park and the lake can also be a great spot for fishing. The boathouse is generally open on weekends but it’s best to check ahead if you plan to rent a boat.

If you like wildlife watching, Lake Tuckahoe can be the ideal place, with bald eagles, beavers, muskrats and ospreys to be spotted.

Pocomoke River

Pocomoke River KayakingPin
Courtesy: Maryland GovPics on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Pocomoke River can offer a range of paddling experiences, with various water trails giving you a different view of the river and its surroundings. The Pocomoke River can occasionally have fast running currents and relatively high tides, depending on the tidal conditions and the weather.

Pocomoke River State Park can be a great spot for launching a kayak, with canoe and kayak rentals available and boat ramps for larger vessels.

The Corker’s Creek Water Trail can be a fun trip for families and beginners, as it lets you explore the cypress swamps, taking you along a calm, flat stretch with lots of wildlife along the relaxing two mile route.

Monocacy Scenic River

Monocacy Scenic River KayakingPin
Courtesy: Monocacy National Battlefield on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Monocacy River is known as “the river with many bends”. It can be an ideal paddling location, with almost 42 miles of Scenic Water Trail to explore. The Monocacy River is a tributary of the Potomac River and therefore US Coast Guard approved life jackets must be worn by all paddlers on the river.

The river flows through historic landscapes that were once Native American settlements. These landscapes were also important during the Civil War.

The Monocacy River can offer a peaceful paddling experience, with wildlife and very little in the way of urban development. The river is a tributary of the Potomac River so you will need to wear a PFD at all times while you’re kayaking.

What Are The Maryland Kayak Laws?

US Coast GuardPin
  • All vessels must have a suitably sized PFD on board for each person on the vessel. 
  • Children under 13 years of age must wear their PFD at all times while on board any vessel that is less than 21 feet in length.
  • All paddlers must wear a PFD while on the Upper Potomac River and its tributaries from November through May. 
  • You do not need to register a kayak if it does not have a motor.

Maryland Kayak Rentals & Tours

There are plenty of kayak rental companies dotted around Maryland, with some offering guided tours along some of these exciting waterways.

Do you live in Maryland, or have a trip planned there? Tell us about any other must-do kayak trips below!

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