Marshyhope Creek’s Tides

Marshyhope Creek’s Tides

On a very windy day we aborted our trip to a coastal area and went inland to Marshyhope Creek at Federalsburg, MD. Knowing the creek was well sheltered by banks and woods for the first few miles meant protection from the wind.

Setting off from the boat ramp at the VFW  our timing was close to high tide. As we paddled downstream we quickly discovered several inlets and coves we usually were unable to access. Taking full advantage of the tide we spent time investigating all of these high tide accessible only areas.

Marshyhope Creek winds through hardwood forests for the first two miles before opening up to a more broad area. Except for several beaver houses on the western bank only a few homes exist in this area.

Interestingly, on this day we were not seeing any eagles and osprey, which had been abundant on previous trips. Songbirds flitted from tree to tree, especially in the coves we entered.

After four miles downstream we turned back towards our launch with the tide now flowing out and mudflats beginning to appear.  With the lower tide came a discovery. The birds had just been napping during high tide waiting for their chance.

On our return we were treated to fishing eagles and osprey.

An eagle on a branch watched us closely as we paddled the far bank. However, he was not leaving his dinner for any reason. In a tall tree we spotted an eagles nest and suspect there were others in the area.

Closer to Marshyhope the osprey tend to fish in the open area just upstream from the VFW ramp. As we loaded our kayaks the osprey put on quite a show.

On this day we paddled just over 8 miles. An enjoyable paddle with changing scenery depending on the season and tides. On our bucket list is to be sure and paddle Marshyhope in the fall as the changing leaves should be quite spectacular.


E. A. Vaughn Wildlife Area

The E.A. Vaughn Wildlife Area may be accessed from several locations, the most convenient being Taylor’s Landing at Girdletree, MD. Numerous choices for paddling exist and on this spring day we chose to visit Scarborough Creek and Pikes Creek, for a trip totaling 9 miles.

After launching from the landing, paddle around the first point to the south to locate the entrance to Scarborough Creek. There is an old hunting stand, very deteriorated, which makes a good marker for locating the mouth of the creek. From the entrance Scarborough Creek winds through the marsh for over two miles. On the rising tide of this trip we paddled nearly 2.5 miles into the stream. This is the farthest we’ve ever been able to paddle upstream. Noticeable tree damage could be seen which probably resulted from the storms of 2016-2017. Along Scarborough Creek cormorants are abundant, and snowy egrets can be spotted in the marsh.

The easiest access to Pikes Creek is through a straight gut just to the south when exiting Scarborough Creek. Turtles abound in this gut and we spotted a manta ray also swimming through the area. Large groups of Foster terns and laughing gulls were feeding in open area of Pikes Creek. When you spot a solitary house on the north bank you have pretty much reached the end of the navigable parts of Pikes Creek. Depending on the tides, and lack of downed trees, you may be able to proceed for another mile.

On both Pikes and Scarborough Creek there are few places to put ashore. Be prepared to spend a considerable amount of time in your kayak. About a mile into the open area of Pikes Creek there are some beaches next to the hardwoods at the edge of the water.

The water in both Pikes Creek and Scarborough Creek was quite clear on this day in early May. Crabs, fish, manta rays and turtles were easy to spot.

GPS map below shows entrances to creeks. Be aware this area changes constantly due to the shifting marsh.

Directions to Taylors Landing: At the intersection of 113 and 12 in Snow Hill turn south on 12 to Girdletree, approximately 5 miles. Entering Girdletree, turn left on Box Iron Rd. Go to stop sign, bear left and then stay to the right. Road dead ends at Taylor’s Landing. Port a john is in the parking lot. There are no services in Girdletree. Stores, restaurants etc. are in Snow Hill.

Broad Creek Osprey Alley

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.

Kayak Season 2017

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.20160824_111900_Beginning paddle down Broad Creek

Join us as we begin Kayaking 2017.

Dividing Creek Cypress Swamp

Dividing Creek Cypress Swamp

Located off the Pocomoke River, just upstream from Pocomoke City, MD, Dividing Creek featured a quiet paddle through a cypress and hardwood swamp.The Two Judys

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.

Dramatic ReflectionsFew 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.

Expanding Kayak Fleet

Expanding Kayak Fleet

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Assateaque National Seashore

Assateaque National Seashore

Glassy WaterKayaking 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.Ponies 1
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.