Kayaking in Maryland: 10 of the Best Places to Paddle and Canoe

Maryland is full of a variety of lakes, rivers, and streams to kayak. From saltwater marshes to freshwater rapids, there are so many options to choose from! However, it can be confusing to know where you should go, especially if you don’t have much experience kayaking. 

Luckily, we’ve done the research for you. Below, we’ve compiled a list of the best places to kayak in Maryland for every skill level. Whether you’re just starting your kayaking journey or you’re a veteran of the sport, there is bound to be something perfect for you in the beautiful state of Maryland. 

1. The Youghiogheny River, MD

Youghiogheny River, MD by Jon Dawson (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Commonly referred to as “the Yough,” the Youghiogheny River is a premier destination for white water rafting in Maryland. Kayakers of all experience levels come to participate in the only wild, northern-flowing river in the state. It goes from West Virginia, through Maryland, up to Pennsylvania, so it is well worth a bigger trip if you have the time. 

While the Lower Yough is better known for family-friendly trips upstream, the Upper Yough has Class IV and V rapids, much too difficult for a child. Thrill-seekers love this part of the river, and it offers one of the only authentic water rapid experiences in all of Maryland. They often call this part of the Yough “the Dream Stream” because riding down the river is like, well, a dream. 

Because of this, we only recommend going kayaking the whitewater of the Yough with a guide. Contact Precision Rafting or one of the other whitewater rafting agencies in the area for a fantastic time on the Yough. 

2. Potomac River, MD

The Potomac River and its tributaries are an essential part of Maryland’s history and some of its best kayaking spots as well. History buffs will love casting off in the same waters that the early Americans did. Troops from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars used to run supplies up and down the river, where the mostly calm waters were perfect for transportation. 

The Potomac River runs over 405 miles from the Potomac Highlands to the Chesapeake Bay. As such, there are plenty of launch points to choose from. It all depends on which area of the river you want to kayak and how difficult you want the trip to be. 

While most of the river is peaceful, we recommend launching near where it meets with the Shenandoah River if you’re looking for something a bit more intense. There, the rapids range from Class I to Class III, great for all experience levels. 

For the most adventurous of kayakers check out the Great Falls (which are featured in the video above) for the most extreme whitewater kayaking.

3. Eden Mill Park/Deer Creek, MD

Located in Pylesville, Deer Creek in Eden Mill Park is a super easy route for beginners or relaxation enthusiasts to have a day out on the water. Situated in 118 acres of parkland, it’s perfect for a full-day expedition that includes kayaking and hiking. 

While the kayaking route is only about one mile long, the scenery is what makes Eden Mill Park stand out from the crowd. The vegetation along the banks is stunning, and the wildlife is a sight to behold. 

Since Deer Creek is relatively small, there are only three launch points to choose between: Two are before the dam, and one comes after. It doesn’t matter too much which one you pick. However, most people launch after the dam at the start of Deer Creek.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any kayak rental services near Deer Creek, so be prepared to come with your own. 

4. Assateague National Seashore, MD

One of the most impressive kayaking destinations on this list, Assateague National Seashore is treasured by water sport enthusiasts in the Ocean City area. The incredible shoreline has been a tourist destination for decades, and kayakers have been a big part of the region’s growth in popularity. 

Assateague National Seashore is also inhabited by unique wild ponies that have roamed the shores for nearly 300 years. While you can’t ride them, cruising past them on your kayak is just as (let’s be honest, almost just as) satisfying. 

There are only two launch points for Assateague on the Maryland side of the park. The better one is at the end of Old Ferry Landing Road, as it’s closer to many cool sites within the park. The other is the Bayside Landing launch, which goes straight out into the bay and requires a long, hard paddle to the nearest point of interest.

Assateague Outfitters is nearby the park to help with all of your kayaking needs. They have rentals and other equipment available for a reasonable price. 

5. Skipton Creek (Mill Creek), MD

Otherwise known as Mill Creek, Skipton Creek has developed a reputation as one of the top kayaking spots in Maryland. Experienced kayakers love to take novice paddlers out onto this part of the Wye River to help them learn about the sport. It’s an incredibly scenic route that’s sure to get any new kayaker hooked instantly. 

Along the way, you may catch a glimpse of turtles, blue herons, endemic frogs, beavers, and more. The colors of the area are breathtaking during the spring and summer seasons, the best time to visit. 

You may have to search the area if you need to rent a kayak. There aren’t any official kayak rental agencies nearby, but there are often people who set up shop near the river who aren’t listed online. 

6. Deep Creek Lake, MD

For Maryland natives, Deep Creek Lake needs no introduction. It’s the largest freshwater lake in Maryland, offering guests a plethora of activities from hiking and cliff jumping to fishing and (of course) kayaking. 

Despite its size, Deep Creek Lake is pretty easy to traverse with a kayak. The water is peaceful year-round, and the park is open through all four seasons. We recommend checking it out in the summertime, but early winter kayaking is also a unique experience if the lake hasn’t frozen over. 

There are several launch points on Deep Creek Lake where you can start your kayaking journey. Most people cast off from the Deep Creek Lake State Park Boat Launch, but many local marinas also allow you to launch from their docks. They will charge a fee, so be prepared to pay for parking and the boat launch when you arrive. 

You have plenty of rental companies to choose from when you visit Deep Creek Lake, but we recommend going with High Mountain Sports. They have everything you could possibly need!

7. Tuckahoe State Park, MD

Tuckahoe State Park, MD by Maryland GovPics (CC BY 2.0)

Occupying nearly 500 acres, Tuckahoe State Park attracts both seasoned and novice kayakers to its lake and creek. It’s a great idea for a day trip, or you can camp out on the park grounds for a night or two if you want to explore some of the hiking trails as well. 

Beginners prefer the peaceful lake, which features a wide variety of plant and animal life to take in as you paddle the calm surface. More experienced kayakers with a taste for adventure gravitate towards the creek. It offers a bit more thrill, with some fast currents and cool navigational quirks to keep the ride interesting. 

Renting a kayak is easy here. Simply head over to the state park office during the week or the boat office over the weekend. Grab some advice from the on-duty park rangers and launch straight from the boat office!

8. Dundee Creek, Baltimore, MD

If you live in Baltimore and want to get out for a day trip on the water, head over to Dundee Creek. It’s not far from the city and is a great place for kayaking and bird watching. You might even get lucky and spot a bald eagle!

There are a couple of options for kayaking routes on Dundee Creek. The creek opens up to the Chesapeake Bay, which is a longer route and more challenging than others in the area. Otherwise, you can explore the inlets up and downstream or continue onto Gunpowder River. Either way, it’s a great adventure for the whole family!

You can rent kayaks from the Deer Creek Marina or one of the many equipment rental services in and around Baltimore. Kayakers also launch from the marina, so no need to worry about lugging your equipment through the wooded areas. 

9. Hawk Cove, Rocky Point State Park, MD

Looking for an easy and relaxing paddle for the weekend? Check out Hawk Cove in Rocky Point State Park. Families love to come here to eat at the tasty cafe and then head out on their kayaking route. Conveniently, you can launch straight from the shores next to the restaurant!

The surrounding area of Hawk Cove protects it from most inclement weather and wind, making for a very tranquil paddle compared to some. However, those looking for a challenge can kayak out to Hart-Miller Island for some rustic camping. 

Check out Rocky Point Kayak for equipment rentals and route guides to get your trip started off on the right foot.

10. Triadelphia Reservoir, MD

Located on the Patuxent River, this man-made reservoir features calm waters and serene nature year-round. It’s one of the best spots in the state for beginners, with no current and no navigational hassles to think about. 

Just follow the Greenbridge Road to the end to find the kayaking launch site. There aren’t any kayak rental services in this area, but the reservoir isn’t too far from Baltimore. You can grab all of your equipment from there. 

However, you will need a license to paddle the Triadelphia Reservoir. Visit the local fish and wildlife office to grab one for you and your buddies. 

Summing up the Best Places to Kayak in Maryland

No matter where you end up, we’re sure you’re going to have a great time. Just remember, safety first on any kayaking trip you take!

Also, if you need some recommendations on which kayak to buy for yourself, check out our in-depth buyer’s guides and equipment reviews.

Happy paddling!