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With ample coastline and tons of mountainside rivers and lakes to choose from, it's hard not to be a kayak enthusiast when visiting Maryland. Whether you prefer soft or hard shell, double or single person cockpits, you'll find your perfect waters here. Here's where to kayak in Maryland:
Sea kayaks, which are also known as touring kayaks, are perfect for the wide open waters of the bays and inlets of Maryland or the Atlantic Ocean, and are super sturdy even when the waves start to get rough. Usually spanning around 12 to 16 feet in length, the sea kayaks have uniquely shaped hulls that are made particularly for the sea, so it's important to get a touring or multiday kayak for any journey in open waters - river and lake kayaks will likely cause problems, even for advanced kayakers.
One of the best places to start any sea-bound paddle is Assateague Island (just south of Ocean City). Most well-known for its wild horses, Assateague's National Seashore spans 37 miles and encompasses an array of different coastal habitats, most of which are easily explored via water. Check out the salt marshes, which are always filled with life, watch the Migratory Flyaway from the sea or catch a chance glimpse of the Assateague horses as they gallop by.
River tourneys by kayak are the perfect journey for any aquaphile or adventurous spirit. Shorter kayaks are recommended for rivers, regardless of the class of rapids that are presented, as they are able to make quicker turns and are easier to maneuver. Narrow models are also better, as they're the easiest to roll if you're to capsize - let's hope you don't, but just in case!
After you've got your slim little kayak ready to go, head to the Choptank and Tuckahoe Rivers Water Trail. This section of the John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail (near Easton and Chestertown) has stayed relatively pristine since it was first explored by Mr. Smith in the 1600s, despite its large historical significance. This water trail regularly provides kayakers with peaceful run-ins with blue herons and other avians, yet also offers stops in the Caroline Living Heritage Museum and the Steamboat Wharf at Denton.
The easiest way to access this river trail is via Denton, located just a few miles west of the Delaware state line. From Baltimore, take Interstate 695 east until you hit Annapolis, then follow US Route 50. The entire journey runs about 70 miles.
For a more "adult" river tour, head to Frederick to enjoy the River & Trail Outfitters Brews Up Boating & Beer Fun tour. Offered most Saturdays, the tour provides a 5.8 mile tour through the Catoctin Mountains with many mallards and sandpipers following at your side. The journey ends at the Barley and Hops Microbrewery, where you can enjoy a midday cap of a lager, IPA or other ale of your choosing.
To get to the tour from Baltimore, take Interstate 70 East to Interstate 270 south. The journey is about 50 miles, and should take a little less than one hour to complete.
Depending on the length of your journey, you can use a larger multi-day style kayak or a short, narrow kayak. On calm, smaller lakes, shorter kayaks offer good protection from the wind and are light and easy to navigate. For a family, this model is definitely tops. However, longer kayaks can hold more gear for longer journeys, and give you a better bang for your buck in terms of distance per paddle.
Deep Creek Lake and its surrounding area affords visitors tons of beautiful vistas, all of which are perfect to explore at the slower pace of a kayak. Most local outfitters provide rentals by the hour, day or week, so no matter how large your urge to explore, you'll find a place to suit your needs.
All Earth Eco Tours offers day-long tours for large and small groups, as well as half-day tours that provide both a half day of hiking and a half day of kayaking. Many of the tour options go through the Savage Wildlands, one of the state's most well-preserved ecosystems. Eco Tours prides itself on providing tours that are free of large power lines or houses - it's a true escape!