your paddlesports destination

Blackwater NWR in Maryland

Trip Overview

For quite a while I have wanted to paddle at Blackwater, and finally got a chance on a Sunday after storms had passed through. I had the water trail map and gps, so I decided to put in at the 335 bridge. There is enough parking and good sandy launch area, but no porta potty! So I had to rough it, after the 2 hour drive....

Anyway, I was somewhat trepidatious about paddling here, with the shallow water, submerged channels,getting stuck in the middle of the lake (Ed Gertler's description was food for thought), but there are now orange buoys marking the channel, in addition to the osprey stands. I set out at the tail end of high tide, ducked under the bridge and headed for the first visible orange buoy. From then on it was a piece of cake, since all you need to do is go from buoy to buoy. They are all visible one to the next, and I finally got to an osprey stand with 2 arrows on it, but no numbers.

I headed north toward the Little Blackwater River, passing a couple of osprey stands, but sticking with the buoys, got to the point where the marsh edge trail is, with a pier and a gazebo off to the west, and took a break. Then I headed back basically the same way, but cut a couple of corners just to see if you could really get stuck, but the water seemed to be about one and a half to two feet deep outside of the marked trail. I would guess the level is higher now than when Ed's book was written.

It may be a little dicier paddling west from Shorter's Wharf, but it appeared the buoys are in that trail as well. Good job by the Refuge for putting them in. I did not see anyone on the water; if you want a paddle in solitude, this is it! But even though I was there at 8 am, I didn't see much bird life, one huge old bald eagle and an osprey, maybe they wait till the water trail is shut down in Oct. to come out and socialize!

Anyway, great place to kayak and enjoy quintessential Dorchester county landscapes.


See Blackwater Wildlife Refuge web site


Blackwater Wildlife Refuge Water Trails Map $4 at Vis. Center

  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip