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19 Breathtaking Places to Go Kayaking in Maryland With Kids

Maryland, one of the Mid-Atlantic states of the US, is famous for being the biggest historical trading port and home to blue crabs. But even more than that, you can find some of the best lakes in Maryland for vacation that are perfect for a day out kayaking.

With breathtaking scenery surrounding the creek, kayaking has never been so much fun and enjoyable, especially if you have various options to choose from.

So, if you’re up for paddling your way across some of the best water trails, here are some of the best places to go kayaking in Maryland with your kids.

Best Kayaking in Maryland

Maryland is a great state for families looking to get out and enjoy kayaking together. From the beautiful Susquehanna River, to the scenic Eastern Shore, there are lots of places in Maryland perfect for exploring by kayak.

Whether you’re visiting local parks with kids or searching for peaceful spots away from it all, there are lots of wonderful places in Maryland to paddle around and have a great time. Families can try paddling along the Potomac River, where they’ll find plenty of friendly wildlife and stunning views.

They can also head to Deep Creek Lake for some beautiful water scenery. With its crystal clear waters and pristine shoreline, it’s the perfect place for a picnic and a leisurely paddle. No matter where you choose to go, there are plenty of opportunities for family kayaking fun in Maryland!

Kayaking in Maryland

Kayaking in Maryland is a great way for families to get out and enjoy the outdoors together. For those looking to explore by water, kayaks offer an exciting and unique experience. Compared to canoes, kayaks are more maneuverable and provide a comfortable ride due to their ergonomic design.

They also make for easy transport from one location to another, making it easy for families to explore different parts of Maryland. Plus, with their stable design, they’re perfect for beginners and experienced kayakers alike. Strong currents can affect canoes in a variety of ways compared to kayaks, from tipping them over to making them difficult to steer. Thus kayaks are more ideal for solo paddling in strong currents.

Canoeing in Maryland

Maryland is a hidden gem for canoeing enthusiasts. With its abundance of waterways, including the Chesapeake Bay, Potomac River, and countless smaller streams and lakes, there’s no shortage of opportunities to explore the state’s natural beauty from the water.

Maryland’s waterways, such as the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay, can have fast-moving currents that require careful attention and paddling skills to navigate successfully. Strong currents can affect canoes in a variety of ways compared to kayaks, from tipping them over to making them difficult to steer. Thus canoes are not ideal for solo paddling in strong currents.

Canoeing can also provide a unique perspective on Maryland’s stunning natural scenery, from rugged cliffs and rocky outcroppings to picturesque lighthouses and historic landmarks. So, if you’re up for the challenge, grab your paddle, put on your life jacket, and get ready for an unforgettable canoeing experience in Maryland.

For those looking for more adventure, some areas even offer white water rafting trips with experienced guides who will make sure your journey is safe and exciting!

people kayaking in maryland

Places to Go Kayaking in Maryland

1. Lake Centennial

Stretched over an expanse of 54 acres, Lake Centennial in Ellicott City is one of the best places to go kayaking with your family, including kids.

The lake is home to over 230 species of birds and 32 species of waterfowl that you can spot while kayaking. These include cackling geese, little gulls, swallows, warblers, and grebes.

You can also spend time fishing and picnicking in the beautiful picnic area. In short, it’s an ideal place to spend some leisure time with family and rent kayaks to explore the lake and surrounding areas.

2. Youghiogheny River

If you’re looking for a bigger kayaking trip, head over to the Youghiogheny River.

While the upper Yough is usually for experienced kayakers, because of the rough rapids, if kids are accompanying you, we would recommend staying towards Lower Yough. The lower section has calm rapids that flow upstream, so kayaking is easy and manageable.

Also, as the route is relatively bigger, take a guide along with you, so you stay on the calmer side of the river.

3. The Potomac River Water Trail

For a kayaking adventure away from the crowd and closer to nature, we recommend going to the Potomac River.

The scenery around the Northern Potomac is a sight to behold, with several river access points. And, if you’re lucky, you can spot some of the wildlife, including bald eagles, beavers, ravens, and of course, the famous blue crabs of Maryland.

The Potomac River stretches 405 miles from Washington DC, all the way to the Chesapeake Bay, and its lower portion is a good place for family outings. Here, you can also enjoy camping and visiting museums.

So, there’s plenty to do when visiting the Potomac River!

kayaking in maryland potomac river

4. Deep Creek Lake

Kayaking is not only about paddling up and down a lake! It’s about taking in the true beauty of nature while going upstream.

Deep Creek Lake is exactly the place for such an experience! It’s a rural place where you can hike, hunt, boat, and of course, kayak. The best part about kayaking across the lake is sighting the many fish species that inhabit it, like the smallmouth bass, crappie, chain pickerel, rainbow trout, etc., making it an ideal fishing spot as well.

You might also occasionally spot some black bears roaming around the park. The whole experience is memorable for adults and kids alike. It is also Maryland’s largest lake with almost 40 miles of shoreline and has been ranked as one of the best places to see fall foliage in Maryland. Its also perfect if you are looking for places to go in Maryland with your kids over the summer.

5. Deer Creek

If you’re looking for a kayaking route best for beginners or families who simply want to have fun out on the water, Deer Creek in Eden Mill Park is where you should be!

It has a small 1-mile long kayaking route, but the scenery around the creek is mind-blowing. The trees and the shrubs along the bank have a calming effect on the kayakers and hikers while encountering the many wildlife species scurrying about the vegetation is an experience of its own.

Deer Creek is one of the best and most frequented places for people looking for a full-day adventure at a family-friendly kayaking trail.

6. The Chesapeake Bay

Now, if you’re traveling with kids, they’d be more interested in spotting animals rather than kayaking. Therefore, Chesapeake Bay is an ideal place to go with kids.

It is one of the top places to go kayaking in Maryland. Located just a bit to the East, this place offers plenty of wildlife encounters, including groundhogs, nutrias, dolphins, blue crabs, canvasback ducks, American black ducks, tundra swans, green heron, snakehead, Chinese mitten crab, etc.

So many animals and a paddle trip down the bay? What more could a kid ask for?

7. Assateague National Seashore

Assateague National Seashore is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Maryland. It is one of the best things to do in Maryland!

It has an impressive view of the shoreline and has something special for the kids: Ponies! These wild ponies have inhabited this area for more than 300 years and freely roam around the river bank. While visitors cannot ride them, they can have a stunning view of the ponies grazing the land as the kayak passes by.

The Assateague Outfitters, located just beside the area, is where you can go for kayak rentals and getting all the required gear.

kayaking in maryland

8. Dundee Creek

How about a water trail covered in marshy coves and abundant wildlife?

That’s Dundee Creek for you: An area waiting to be explored! Located just a few miles away from Baltimore, the Dundee Creek is a family-friendly water trail that has many inlets through which you can kayak your way to discovery!

The creek opens up to the Chesapeake Bay and Gunpowder River. You will come across many beaches while paddling down the creek. Also, you can spot the beautiful herons, bald eagles, ospreys, ducks, and several fish species on your way.

The best part about Dundee Creek? You can also bring along your pets to join in on the kayaking adventures!

9. Janes Island State Park

At Janes Island State Park, families can not only go kayaking, they can also experience the Chesapeake Bay and a lot of camping opportunities at the campground that holds about 103 campsites. It also has about 30 miles of water trails and beaches.

Besides camping, this park offers activities like birding, hunting, fishing, crabbing, motor boating, paddling and more for families. Most of the waterways are also protected from strong winds which is perfect especially for kids or less experienced paddlers.  

10. Deep Creek Lake, McHenry

There are a ton of activities for everyone at Deep Creek Lake. From skiing, to hiking in Maryland, boating activities, fishing, ziplining, bowling, kayaking, rafting, you name it. Your kids are sure to have a blast here. You can enjoy the calm waters via whitewater rafting tours or paddle through the waters. Families can enjoy not only fishing but also some ice-fishing as this lake is one of the best spots for it and the lake freezes completely in late December. Also check out these nice places to go fishing while in Maryland.

11. Pocomoke River Trail

Pocomoke River state park is tucked away nicely in Maryland’s Eastern Shore area. The river begins from the Great Cypress Swamp located in Delaware and flows southwesterly 45 miles to the Chesapeake Bay. There is a ton of activities like kayaking, fishing, boating, camping etc. They also have playgrounds for young kids to have fun.

No matter your experience level, kayaking will be fun at Pocomoke River. You can also get some amazing views of nature while kayaking. Since its close to the Delmarva peninsula, families can explore the peninsula’s amazing beauty.

12. Conowingo Pond

Conowingo Pond overlooks the Susquehanna River. Although located in Pennsylvania, families can kayak and paddle while getting a nice view of the beautiful scenery. It has amazing rock islands that act like passageways thus giving more beautiful sceneries as you kayak around the pond.

13. Anacostia River

The Anacostia river trail covers 9 miles of The Anacostia River. From the Anacostia River, guests can see the historic Navy Yard and enjoy the greenery of Anacostia Park to the south. 

14. Patuxent River

The Patuxent river water trail allows guests to not only paddle but also enjoy some camping experiences along the banks and also enjoy the parks and wildlife areas.

15. Gunpowder Falls State Park

Gunpowder Falls state park holds many of Maryland’s water trails about 5 miles each. It also has a lot of rough spots or wild river waters which makes it a great spot for kayakers that want some more water adventures. It may therefore not be the best for beginner or less experienced kayakers.

kayaking in maryland great falls

16. Hawk Cove, Rocky Point State Park

Rocky point state park is one of the most accessible and well-maintained parks for kayaking in Baltimore and offers amazing views of the Chesapeake bay. Guests of all levels of paddling and kayaking skills can also have some fun here as it has two boat ramps. There is one ramp which is geared towards beginner paddlers while another is better suited for paddlers with more experience as it leads to the open waters of the bay area.

17. Lake Centennial Ellicott City

Lake centennial has a 54 acre manmade lake that’s open to boaters. Its not only perfect for those who want to kayak or canoe, they also have picnic areas, playgrounds, volleyball courts and more which make it a great tourist hangout. The park also has a lot of grassland where guests can enjoy walking around enjoying nature or just a calm summer day.

18. Mill Creek (Skipton Creek)

Skipton Creek is a perfect place for novices or beginners to go canoeing and kayaking in Baltimore. The oak and cypress forests of this mill creek make it a perfect hangout for families during fall as you can enjoy some of the creek’s amazing foliage while kayaking away.

A lot of experienced kayakers also seem to love Skipton creek as they can help train beginner kayakers here.

You can also catch some glimpses of nature like beavers, blue herons and more.

kayaking in maryland

19. Tuckahoe State Park Queen Anne

Let’s wrap up this article with one of the most peaceful areas to spend a day with your family: The Tuckahoe State Park.

Here you will find a calm lake to paddle around in a kayak with your kids and spot the beautiful wildlife and vegetation. If you want to take your kayaking experience up a notch, move towards the creek where the currents are relatively fast.

Apart from kayaking, Tuckahoe State Park also offers hiking and camping activities for visitors. Its also an amazing place to see fall foliage in Maryland.

Frequently asked questions on Kayaking in Maryland

Can I kayak anywhere in Maryland?

Yes, you can kayak in many places in Maryland, including rivers, lakes, and bays. However, it is important to check with local authorities before kayaking any waterways as some may be restricted due to safety concerns.

Additionally, if you plan on going into saltwater areas make sure to wear appropriate clothing and bring insect repellent. It is also advised to stay aware of weather conditions as storms can arise quickly on the water.

Is it safe to kayak in the Chesapeake Bay?

Kayaking in the Chesapeake Bay can be safe, but it’s important to be aware of the potential risks and take proper precautions. The Chesapeake Bay is a large body of water with varying conditions, so kayakers should be aware of factors such as wind, tides, and currents that can affect their safety.

Additionally, the Chesapeake Bay is a popular shipping channel with large commercial vessels that create wakes and require kayakers to be alert and aware of their surroundings. It’s important to wear a life jacket, have proper safety gear such as a whistle and flares, and check weather and tidal conditions before heading out on the water.

Kayakers should also be aware of their skill level and choose an appropriate route for their abilities. Taking a guided tour or kayaking with an experienced partner can also help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience in the Chesapeake Bay.

Do you need a life vest to kayak in Maryland?

Yes, in Maryland, you are required to wear a life vest, also known as a personal flotation device (PFD), when kayaking. Maryland state law requires that all individuals in a canoe, kayak, or other similar watercraft wear a Coast Guard-approved PFD while on the water.

This requirement applies to all bodies of water, including rivers, lakes, and the Chesapeake Bay.

What time of day is best for kayaking?

The best time of day for kayaking can vary depending on a variety of factors, such as the weather, the water conditions, and personal preference. In general, many kayakers prefer to paddle in the early morning or late afternoon when the temperature is cooler and the light is softer, creating a more pleasant and scenic atmosphere.
This can also be a good time to observe wildlife, as many animals tend to be more active during these times.

kayaking in maryland

Maryland Kayak Rentals services and Kayak Tours

There are a few places that offer a great Maryland experience of Kayaking. You can head over to these places to rent your kayaks or even plan out a kayak or canoe tour with your family.

Annapolis Canoe and Kayak

They do not offer tours, but you can rent out kayaks, canoes and even paddleboards here.

Easter Watersports

You can rent kayaks and paddleboards here. They also offer kayak tours, sailing lessons and paddleboard lessons.

Pocomoke River canoe company

These offer kayak rental services.

River and Trail Outfitters

They are located in Harpers Ferry WV, but have locations conveniently located around so they are easy to access in DC, WV and MD. While in Harpers Ferry, you can enjoy the Shenandoah River tubing and Potomac River white water tubing and go white water rafting through Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia.

Bay Venture outfitters

Rent some kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and bike rentals and enjoy some amazing water adventure with your family!

Potomac Paddlesports

They offer white water kayaking lessons, kayaking tours, adventure kayaking lessons, summer camps and more.

What to pack for Kayaking in Maryland

Now that you know some of the best spots in Maryland for kayaking and canoeing, here are a list of things to pack for kayaking.

  • Kayak: You can check out the list of places to rent kayaks or canoes above.
  • Paddle: You can also see some great rental services listed above for paddle boards.
  • Wet or water shoes: These Hiitave women water shoes are easy to clean, light weight and super comfortable, you could literally wear them everywhere.
  • Dry bag to keep your phones and other dry things. Try Unigear dry bag, it’s really easy to use and comes with a cellphone bag. If you plan to carry a lot of things, get a big size.
  • Sunglasses to protect your eyes
  • Hat especially in the summer months
  • Swimsuit
  • Snacks
  • Water bottle
  • Life jacket: These are usually provided by the rental company
  • Sunscreen and bug spray

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Final thoughts on Kayaking in Maryland

Kayaking is a fun activity that you can enjoy in a calm as well as exhilarating way, based on your experience and skills. But, if you’re traveling with kids, we would recommend staying in areas where the currents are low to enjoy a peaceful experience while taking in the surrounding beauty.

In Maryland, you will find several water trails to paddle around with your kids and pets alike. We have rounded up 9 top places to go kayaking in Maryland with kids, complete with details of what else you can do over there.

So, gear up and get going!

Happy kayaking!

kayaking in maryland with kids

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