Wye Island paddling brings you to private beaches for picnics, Ospreys and Bald Eagles, and some views of magnificent estates. It is located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland about 30 miles from Annapolis and 60 miles from Washington, DC.
The island is mostly a natural preserve sheltering big oaks, Ospreys, Bald Eagles, and Herons. Surrounded by the Wye River, Wye East River, and Skipton Creek, half of the island was once owned by William Paca, signer of the Declaration of Independence and a Maryland Govenor.
We put in at the small beach next to the boat ramp on Wye Landing road. Beginning our journey North and West on our circumnavigation we found so many small beaches we had a hard time deciding where to stop for lunch. 2,450 of Wye's 2,800 acres are managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources as a preserve so there is no development and you are welcome to picnic with no trace. No overnight camping, however. The beaches are typically 50 feet of shoreline and 10 to 15 feet wide. Water temperatures were near 80 degrees at the end of June so swimming is hard to resist. We packed a great lunch and some towels to sit on. Some binoculars allowed us to spy on the estates across the water as well as the wildlife. The waterway is typically 100 - 300 yards wide. Boat traffic is generally relatively light and courteous to kayakers.
The island side is mostly stately oaks and forest. The mainland side is farms or estates, some quite beautiful. You will see many Herons, Tundra Swans, and Ospreys. With some luck, a Bald Eagle will cross your path.
The trip around the island is 13.5 miles. Tides are not significant but you are cautioned to take note and avoid a long trip against the tide. Wind can be a factor but you are never far from shore. We were pleasantly tired when we came around the point and back to our launch site.
On your way to Wye, stop off and see the Wye Oak, Maryland's State tree, now over 400 years old. You are between Annapolis and St. Michael's, two very old sailing towns with great restaurants and interesting shops.
The boat ramp has free parking and port-a-johns. Expect the parking to fill up on weekends. There is a tiny beach next to the ramp which is perfect for launching kayaks.
A fee to use the boat ramp but not the beach.
Take Route 50 East from the Washington Beltway (495) through Annapolis and across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Follow Route 50 then turn right on Route 662 towards Wye Mills. Another right on Wye Landing Road takes you to the boat ramp.
ADC Northern Chesapeake Bay Chart. A GPS, and a Compass. The Chart and Compass are very valuable because of the many inlets and creeks that can make your route not entirely obvious at times.
Sea Kayaking Along the Mid-Atlantic Coast by Tamsin Venn, Appalachian Mountain Club Books.