If you don’t have your own kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard (SUP)
Don’t have your own vessel? Don’t know how to paddle? No problem! Local outfitters offer rentals, lessons, and guided tours.
Location 1: 2524 Key Wallace Dr., Cambridge, MD (near Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge)
Location 2: 100 Heron Blvd., Cambridge, MD (at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Resort)
- Kayak and SUP rentals
- Guided tours include wildlife, Underground Railroad, moonlight, and wine tasting paddles, as well as a combined kayak/bike tour
OverBoard Paddle & Fitness
Most excursions leave from the Dorchester Visitor Center, 2 Rose Hill Pl., Cambridge, MD, or from Suicide Bridge Restaurant, 6304 Suicide Bridge Rd., Hurlock, MD.
- SUP beginner classes
- SUP sunset and glow paddles
- Custom events for groups
- SUP yoga, Big Buddha Yoga, and Big Buddha Floating Fitness
Where to launch
Dorchester County has 13 designated soft launches designed for kayaks, canoes, and SUPs, as well as 26 boat ramps which usually have concrete ramps. Use of the launches and ramps is free for individuals. In Maryland, non-motorized vessels may launch from boat ramps but are encouraged to use separate soft launch areas if one is provided at the same site. For an online map with detailed directions to each soft launch or boat ramp, visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources page on public boating access.
What you’ll see
Dorchester County is known for its pristine landscapes and waterscapes. As you paddle, keep your eyes open for wildlife including bald eagles, osprey, egrets, and great blue herons. During migration times in spring and fall, you might also see a wide range of ducks and geese and other waterbirds. In the mid- to late summer, watch for marsh hibiscus blooming on the banks of some waterways. The views you’ll find in these areas around the paddling trails hasn’t changed much in hundreds of years, so in your mind’s eye, imagine what life was like here for the Native Americans who once used these waterways for hunting and traveling, and for Harriet Tubman and other enslaved people, who used the waterways as a means to escape to freedom.
Important safety notes
- Check tides before you go.
- In warmer months, wear insect repellant and light-colored clothing.
- Certain types of mud and marsh appear to be safe to cross on foot, but they can be deceiving. Use caution.
- Beware of stinging sea nettles and jellyfish in the water in the summer months.
- Plan ahead. Leave your route and return time with a relative or friend. Check weather conditions before you leave.
- Always wear a life jacket.
- In an emergency, stay with your vessel. Marshes cannot be crossed on foot.
- Cell phone service is not always reliable. Don’t count on it for rescues.
- Bring a spare paddle or pole, rain gear, water, sunscreen, insect repellant, a hat, and snacks.
- If your canoe/kayak gets stuck, stay put. Try shifting your weight carefully as you push off with your paddle or pole.