Bordered by the Potomac and Patuxent rivers, Charles County, Md. provides paddlers of all abilities the chance to discover the area’s history and natural wonders by boat. Just 30 miles from Washington, D.C., it is the perfect escape to the water and easily accessible.
Explore more than 100 abandoned ships dating back to the Revolutionary War and World War I at Mallows Bay Park. You can also see bald eagles, river otters, turtles, and more when you paddle this national marine sanctuary on the Potomac River. Take a virtual tour of this “Ghost Fleet” online through the Chesapeake Conservancy. Hop on Nanjemoy Creek from Friendship Farm Park. You can customize your trip length as the creek flows into the Potomac four miles from the park.
Paddle tributaries of the Potomac from two state parks in the county. Access the Port Tobacco River from the sandy soft launch during low tide at Chapel Point State Park. Explore Mattawoman Creek from the boat ramp at Smallwood State Park. Both parks provide easy access to more miles for paddling when you reach the tidal Potomac. Families will enjoy paddling Wheatly Lake at Gilbert Run Park. Rent a pedal boat, rowboat, canoe, or kayak for the afternoon.
If you need a boat for the day, check out Atlantic Kayak Company for single and double kayak rentals on Mattawoman Creek. They also offer guided trips, including a sunset or ship graveyard tour, if you want to dive deeper into the area’s history.
When you are done on the water, check out the multi-use Indian Head Rail Trail. Discover 13.1 miles of paved trails through forests, natural wetlands, and farmland as well as other parks and wildlife along the way. Head to Bike Doctor for all your cycling needs and stop by Beacon Surplus to select your kayak, canoe, and water safety accessories. View the Port Tobacco River Park’s resident eagles, Chandler and Hope, from the wildlife observation decks. Take the time to check out the other museums, antique stores, and parks in the area, including Piscataway National Park.
Refuel at one of the many unique restaurants in Charles County, from farm-to-table cuisine and local seafood to barbecue and homemade ice cream. Finish up with a drink at Blue Dyer Distilling Co. before settling in for a night at your bed & breakfast, campground, or hotel. Wake up ready to explore more of the adventures that await when you visit Charles County, Maryland.