Broad Creek in Western Sussex County, DE offers beautiful kayaking with easy access. Roger C. Fisher River Park on 6th St. in Laurel, DE offers parking, port a potties, and paved ramps. Eight miles downstream, just before Broad Creek meets the Nanticoke River, is Phillips Landing State Park with the same features. Either of these access points can be used for an out and back, or one way with a shuttle. For a longer trip, two miles downstream on the Nanticoke is Cherry Beach Park and boat ramp in Sharptown, MD.
On this beautiful April day we checked the tides and chose a one way trip on the rising tide from Phillips Landing to Laurel. While there were a few fishermen at Phillips Landing, once leaving there we saw no boat traffic. It easily took us two hours to cover the first few miles as the scenery and wildlife sightings resulted in much stopping and watching.
The osprey returned to this part of Delaware mid-April. On this day we saw at least 10 pairs, either nesting, looking for a nest, building a nest, or chasing buzzards away from their nest. We tried to give the osprey a wide berth as they were never happy when we paddled too close. Turtles sat on every log. Beavers have built a number of houses along Broad Creek and on a previous trip we actually spotted a beaver. Bald eagles are abundant along Broad Creek.
When the tide is low there are considerable mud flats with bird activity. A greater yellow legs was busy on one tidal flat. With the low tide there are also numerous gravel bars where one can take a shore break. A fair number of homes exist along Broad Creek, however there are also lengthy stretches without homes. Tidal current on Broad Creek is minimal and one can easily paddle against the tide.
Broad Creek is a good choice for a paddle in the spring when the winds along the more open coastal area are too strong for enjoyable kayaking.
With the temperatures rising, and the winds diminishing, could it be true that kayak season 2017 is about to begin? During 2016 we continued to explore areas close to our new home in Coastal Delaware. While we haven’t written about many of those places our goal in 2017 is to provide descriptions of many of the new places we have found on DELMARVA.
First up for this year, Broad Creek in Laurel, DE.
Join us as we begin Kayaking 2017.
Located off the Pocomoke River, just upstream from Pocomoke City, MD, Dividing Creek featured a quiet paddle through a cypress and hardwood swamp.
We found our put in at the Winter Quarters Golf Course Landing on Winter Quarters Drive. If driving south on US 13 Winter Quarters Drive is on the left just after the Pocomoke River Bridge. There is no fee, plenty of parking exists next to the boat ramp and rest rooms are located in the small golf club house.
On a crisp fall day we used this landing to paddle north, upstream, on the Pocomoke to the entrance of Dividing Creek on the west side of the river. Tides on the Pocomoke tend to flow quite heavy and on the upstream trip the tide was with us. Turning into Dividing Creek we immediately entered a calm quiet world. Dividing Creek is perhaps thirty feet at it’s widest point, which makes it much narrower than Nassawango Creek closer to Snow Hill. Fall colors were brillant against the blue sky on this calm day.
Few water birds are spotted in this area since water levels are high in the creek and spread out into the hard woods. Woodland birds appeared in abundance. Robins seemed to be everywhere.
Dividing Creek wanders quite a ways but we turned back after four miles. Reentering the Pocomoke the tide still flowed upstream. A significant breeze also now blew upstream. The downstream paddle back to the landing presented quite a challenge. We’ve agreed to visit Dividing Creek again early in the spring as it presents a protected location and beautiful natural surroundings.
While in Pocomoke don’t miss the DELMARVA Discovery Center. This small museum features quality exhibits on man and nature in the Pocomoke region. And while there is plenty of fast food found on Rt. 13, the Riverside Grill, located next to the museum is worth a visit.
Grandchildren and family who want to try kayaking resulted in additions to our kayak fleet this year. An Ocean Kayak Venus 11 Sit On Top and Cascadia Tandem, both from LLBean, joined our Wilderness System Tarpon 160is.
Advertised as a woman’s kayak easily loaded onto car racks the Venus 11 weighs 44 pounds. While it may be light enough to load, the length and width makes it awkward. At 5 ft. 3 inches I found it impossible to get a good grip to pick up the Venus. A kayak cart would have made loading quite manageable. Unfortunately, due to it’s short length the Venus widens quickly at the stern and wouldn’t fit into our standard cart. I’m debating whether to spend $100 to purchase a wider cart. Taller kayakers with longer arms could easily load this kayak individually.
Outside of the disappointment in loading difficulty everyone who has tried this kayak finds it fun. It’s light and glides quickly. For those use to paddling a longer kayak it doesn’t glide as straight. But it is perfectly usable for a full day trip.
A front hatch kit is available (purchased from Austin Kayak) and was easily installed following the detailed directions. Be aware it will take at least 2 sets of hands to install the neoprene cover the first time, and several times following until it stretches. The hatch kit gives the Venus some in hull storage. Use dry bags both here and in the small hatch in front of the paddler. They both tend to leak. All in all a good investment for what we wanted since it was purchased from LLBean on a 20% off weekend.
Our second addition was a Cascadia Tandem also from LLBean on 20% off. We refer to these two kayaks as Baby and the Beast. The Cascadia weighs 74 pounds. If you’re going to transport this kayak be sure you have the ability to lift and load. After several experiments we found the Thule Slide and Glide to be the best way to transport the Beast.
Following recent surgery my kayaking was limited to riding in the front of the tandem. I love it. The seat is comfortable, and sits in deep enough for an incredibly dry ride. This kayak has the flexibility to be used both as a tandem or a single. Both ways work well with the Cascadia.
Kayaking Assateaque National Seashore never fails to produce an abundance of wildlife. Anyone can see one of the wild ponies in the parking lots foraging for food. Kayakers see the wild ponies in their more natural environment along the shoreline, and in the shadows of the wooded areas.
Assateaque National Seashore, and Assateaque State Park, are located just south of Ocean City, MD off highway 611. Summer weekends often produce a line of cars several miles long waiting at the entrance to the national park. Plan appropriately and arrive before 10 a.m. to avoid this backup.
Ferry Landing provides the best launch spot. Heading south one quickly leaves the crowds behind, even on a summer weekend. Few power boats enter this area due to the shallow water.
Slowly paddling the shoreline, entering guts and coves is the best way to explore Assateaque. In mid-August our trip produced pony sightings with cattle egrets, great egrets, a flock of white and glossy Ibis, and shore birds galore. This area is a treat for anyone wishing to take their time and view birds.
For those interested in longer paddles there are several paddle in campsites maintained by the park service along the shoreline approximately 2, 5 and 7 miles south of Ferry Land. In the summer bugs will be a significant challenge to anyone camping along the shore.
For a different trip one can turn north from Ferry Landing, go under the bridge to the island and explore the sandy beaches in the state park. This area provides an abundance of shorebirds, however boat traffic north of the bridge is significant on summer weekends.
The Worchester County boat ramp at Taylors Landing just outside Girdle Tree MD is currently closed to the public. It appears a complete rebuilt of the launch ramp is underway. Lots of heavy equipment was on site. This is one of our favorite launch sites and we were disappointed this morning to find this closure. It is possible to access most of this area from George’s Landing about 3 miles to the south. Hopefully this work will be completed before we store our kayaks for the winter.
A new home base opens up new kayaking locations for Maryland Kayaker. Venturing just inches south of the Maryland/Virginia border brings one to Pitts Creek off the Pocomoke River. The launch site features a small parking area on a bend of the Pocomoke. Kayaking north about half mile finds the entrance to Pitts Creek.
This area features a nice blend of marsh and hardwood forests next to the creek. Paddling upstream during high tide meant few wadding birds were spotted. On the return trip at lower tide the birds are more obvious. Pitts Creek winds back and forth for a number of miles and offers as much kayaking as one wishes.
On a day in early June we paddled about five miles upstream with the usual bald eagle spotting. Nearly to the end of our paddle we spotted an eagle’s nest on the western shore. This also looks like a nice area to take a dip on a hot summer day.
A nice restful paddle one needs only watch the wind and boats while on the Pocomoke.
Directions to launch site:
A GPS is useful to find this place at the end of Bell Rd. Southbound on US 13 turn left on Rt. 709 (1 1/2 miles south of MD/VA line). Stay on Rt. 709 which makes several turns. Eventually 709 becomes Pitts Creek Rd. Take a right onto Bell Rd. (Be sure and notice the house on the left!). The boat launch is at the end of Bell Rd. No facilities are located here. The closest are in New Church.