There’s just something special about spending a day on the water. Ask any water sport enthusiast, and they will tell you there’s no better way to escape the stress and anxiety of everyday life than heading to your favorite spot on the waterfront to take in the scenic views, breathe the fresh air and get some exercise.
We are extremely fortunate to have a wide selection of Baltimore City and Baltimore County waterways, thanks to our proximity to the Chesapeake Bay. Whether you’re seeking to commune with nature in marshy wetlands, take in new views of the city skyline or learn more about our area’s historic landmarks, the perfect waterside location is just a short drive from home.
With only a few weeks left to get the most out of summer, here are five of my favorite local spots to paddle, boat, fish and swim. All these locations offer convenient parking, a short walk to the water, friendly terrain for launching canoes, kayaks or paddleboards, and scenery that can take your breath away.
Marshy Point Park and Nature Center
Located in Middle River, this park sits among one of the largest tracts of undeveloped and protected land on the upper Chesapeake Bay. It has more than eight miles of hiking trails and various aquatic habitats, including shallow creeks, marshes, freshwater wetlands and coastal plain forest. The park also has Baltimore County’s first paddling trail for canoes and kayaks. The self-guided tour follows a one-mile loop around Dundee Creek, and is perfect for beginner paddlers, people with children, or those who want to learn about the local environment while exploring. Be sure to also check out the interactive exhibits at the nature center, which the Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks operates, to learn more about the native wildlife you’ll see in the park and the importance of the Chesapeake Bay to our local ecosystem.
Middle Branch Park
In the Cherry Hill area of Baltimore City, Middle Branch Park is easily found just off I-95 near the Inner Harbor, the Hanover Street Bridge (Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge), and the Cherry Hill Aquatic Center. Named for its location on the Patapsco River’s “middle branch,” this is a great place to view the downtown skyline from your kayak or canoe, as well as explore beautiful wetlands and observe the local wildlife. The park has two fishing piers and a large floating dock for launching canoes, kayaks or paddleboards that is conveniently located next to an access road, making it easy to unload your equipment close to the water. Plans are currently underway to expand Middle Branch Park and connect more of the adjacent neighborhoods to the South Baltimore shoreline.
Canton Waterfront Park
This South Baltimore park isn’t just a favorite spot for city joggers and walkers, but also boaters and anglers. It sits directly on the eastern entrance to the Inner Harbor, making it the perfect place to take in the sites of downtown and historic landmarks like Fort McHenry from the water. And fishing without a license is permitted at the park’s pier.
Rocky Point Beach and Park
Rocky Point Beach and Park in Essex is open throughout the year if you’d like to take a fishing trip or enjoy a picnic there. Rocky Point — which is by the Back and Middle rivers — offers stunning views of the Chesapeake Bay, Hart-Miller Island State Park (which is only accessible by private boat) and the Craighill Channel Lower Front Lighthouse. In the summer, the beach at Rocky Point is a great spot for sunbathing, swimming and paddling. This park, which is on 375 acres, is also home to the Baltimore County Sailing Center and features many family-friendly amenities, including picnic pavilions, playgrounds and restrooms.
Loch Raven Fishing Center
This fishing center in Phoenix offers everything you need to enjoy a relaxing day of fishing on Loch Raven Reservoir, including stunning landscapes and a calm atmosphere. Boat owners can purchase seasonal launching and docking permits through Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks, and boats and kayaks are available to rent. And if you forget your tackle or bait, the center sells both, along with various snacks and supplies. This spot is rarely crowded and is a great place to escape to for some peace and quiet.
Whether you are new to the water, or an avid enthusiast of it, I encourage you to do your physical and mental health a favor and plan a day trip to one or more of these spots soon. Even after summer ends, many of these locations become even more stunning in the fall as the leaves change color and temperatures cool down.
Kailyne Johlitz is the general manager at Eastern Watersports.