This article was originally written by Laura Scharle (Creator of Delmarva Trails & Waterways) for the Chesapeake Conservancy's website, FindYourChesapeake.com. That site is no longer live and its content is supposed to be migrated to the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office website, but until that happens, you can read the full article here.
Out-and-back paddling is not for me. I love to explore and I like to log miles, so going for a paddle and then doubling back isn’t my favorite. If I want to paddle 10 miles, I want to see 10 miles of scenery - not 5 miles of scenery twice. When I plan my kayaking adventures (many of which are solo), I am always looking for a way to paddle a loop, and many times that means combining my paddling trip with a bike ride.
Last September, paddling & biking Kent Island was a goal of mine. It was the Tuesday after Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer. I had planned to paddle around the northern tip of Kent Island, starting at Terrapin Nature Park, ending at Jackson Creek Landing. I would then hop on the Cross Island Trail to bike back to Terrapin Nature Park. Sounds simple, but the logistics took some thoughtful planning.
Since I live east of Kent Island, I stopped at Jackson Creek Landing where I unloaded my bike and locked it to a split rail fence by the water. From there I drove over to Terrapin Nature Park where I intended to begin my paddle. Launching at this park is not for everyone, as the sandy beach is ⅓ of a mile from the parking lot! I knew this was going to be the case so I was prepared - I brought my kayak cart. I loaded my kayak up with everything I needed for the trip, and headed for the beach (and when I say everything, I’m talking lunch, snacks, dry bag, water, extra water, paddle, extra paddle, life-jacket, VHF radio, cell phone, car keys, first aid kit, bike helmet, shoes to change to, and probably some other stuff I’m forgetting as I write this!). Wheeling my kayak and all of my stuff for ⅓ of a mile was definitely exhausting, but the walk to the beach was beautiful. Terrapin Nature Park has a gorgeous trail system. And once I arrived at the beach, I had to pause for a moment to take in the view. This spot has a stunning view of the bay bridge.
Before I could launch, I had to affix the cart to the back deck of my kayak. I probably looked like a total goofball paddling around with two wheels sticking up in the back! Once I finally got on the water, the bay was like glass. My paddle and my boat sliced through the water like butter. It was lovely. In addition, since it was the day after Labor Day, there was hardly any boat traffic. And most of the houses I paddled by seemed vacant. Maybe summer really WAS officially over!
As I rounded the northernmost point of Kent Island, I started to feel a swirly current. I’m still not sure what was causing it, but my guess was something to do with the tides as the Chester river met the bay. This is definitely not a paddling trip I would recommend for beginners.
Once I was officially on the east side of Kent Island, I was able to spot the Kent Narrows bridge in the distance and began making a beeline towards it. I passed a sailboat that was moored in the river, and also paddled right by Ferry Point Park, a great little public beach which is a short walk from Kent Narrows. Once I reached the Narrows there was a bit of boat traffic so I decided to wait off to the side for a break in the traffic. As I reached the east side of the narrows, it was just a quick mile to Jackson Creek Landing.
I pulled up onto the beach, right where I had left my bike a few hours prior. After some lunch and rest, I swapped my kayak for my bike. I used my bike lock to lock my kayak to a bench, changed from water shoes to biking shoes, stowed my paddle and life jacket inside my kayak, put on my bike helmet, and off I went.
I was able to access the Cross Island Trail at Long Point Park, located right on Jackson Creek Road. I got about 100 yards down the trail and realized something - I forgot my car keys! Luckily I hadn’t gone far and my keys were in my dry bag which was tucked inside my kayak back at the landing. This just goes to show how tricky the logistics of doing a one-way paddle and a one-way bike ride can be. I would’ve been pretty bummed if I made it all the way back to my car without my keys!
Once I retrieved my keys, I got right back on the trail. This trail is such a beautiful asset to both residents and visitors of Queen Anne’s County. It’s 6.5 miles long and has stunning views of the water, extensive boardwalks over the marsh, and shaded stretches through the woods.
Before I knew it, I was back to my car at Terrapin Nature Park. I loaded up my bike, drove back to Jackson Creek to retrieve my kayak, and headed home! I was able to GPS-track the whole adventure, logging 11.2 miles of kayaking and 6.7 miles of biking. Next adventure will be to paddle the southern tip of Kent Island, paddling from Romancoke to Matapeake and riding the South Island Trail!