Patuxent River

by  Ehiigel

A self-supported trip created by Ehiigel

Trip Overview

I was more than pleasantly surprised how much I loved my 3-day solo canoe trip on the tidal mid-river Putuxent only 30 miles from my home in DC. I'm sure that mid-week in late September helped since in 30 miles and three days I saw only 7 people (even at a distance) and only one motorboat (who actually slowed to pass me).

Scenery is great. Herons and bald eagles, bobolinks and ducks. Because the banks are mostly marshland, there are few houses on this section of the river and you can completely forget that you are actually in the outer suburbs of the Washington, DC metro area. The houses you do see are for the most part palatial, especially the mansion at the Mount Calvert Historic Site (which has a nice dock, by the way).

Paddling is easy if you follow the tides and even against the current and tides it is not terribly difficult. As a result, this trip can be done with a single car with put-in and take-out at the same place.

There are multiple paddle-in campsites on the river. They have fire rings, picnic tables and portajohns. Most that I saw (but not all) had small docks. The two campsites I stayed in are both for a single party (maybe up to 10 people) and give a very quiet and isolated wilderness feeling (even if they are in the suburbs--the magic of marshes to cut you off from the world). Both of the campsites were immaculate (again I have no idea whether late September was the reason). Reservations are required from Prince Georges or Anne Arundel Counties ($20 for county residents, $26 for the rest of us).

This trip is on part of the Patuxent Water Trail (, which has done an excellent job with maps and subtle signage along the River (although the only real excitement of my trip was missing Spice Creek and having to paddle back up river for a couple of miles against tide and current and with darkness approaching, poking into every creek to see if it was the correct one---the sign was there but I just missed it (probably while focused on a swooping bald eagle)).

Downside. Obviously the water is very polluted (but not trashy), so don't even think of flipping your boat (or especially not taking a dip after a long day of paddling).

Trip Details

  • Trip Dates: 9/29/2021-10/1/2021
  • Sport/Activity: Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water

Trip Location