I love getting out on the water. I especially love taking a kayak down to the ramp at Janes Island State Park and paddling the water trails through the island for which the park is named. There is something invigorating about spending the day on the water, spotting wildlife, and making landfall on a secluded beach perfect for a picnic, playing on the water or hunting for arrowheads.
When my daughter was younger, we opted to take the tandem kayak and one paddle. Rather than try to find a rhythm with two, I would let her paddle until she got tired, then take over while she duffed, sprawled out in the front seat, sunglasses on, feet propped up, trailing a lazy hand drawing ripples on the surface of the water. Now that she is a teenager, we take separate boats to ensure the peace. (There is a reason outfitters call the tandem a “divorce special”.)
For those who have never paddled, kayaking can seem a little intimidating. It used to be that hearing the word kayak brought to mind images of thrill seekers shooting rapids and doing barrel rolls. But the sport has grown to include all types of skill levels, body types, and boat designs. Kayaks are more stable and less prone to tipping. I think you would really have to try to turn it over before it actually would.
The water trails at Janes Island State Park offer a paddling experience through calm water on trails that bisect the island and the only resistance comes from tide and, occasionally, wind. If there is white water here, you may seriously want to seek shelter. The water trails at Smith Island offer a little more of a challenge for those with a little more skill.
Water resistant trail maps are available for both trails. For Janes Island, stop in and purchase one from the park store for a small fee or order them online at http://shopdnr.com/easternmarylandtrailguides.aspx. For Smith Island, maps are free of charge and available on the website www.paddlesmithisland.com or by contacting our visitor center at 800-521-9189. While the trails are marked, it’s nice to know where you are going.
For those comfortable in their skill level who want to try something a little different, consider kayaking over to the west side of Janes Island, on the yellow trail, about an hour before sundown to watch the sunset and paddle back under the light of the full moon at your own pace. If the weather cooperates, Mother Nature puts on a spectacular show.
If you don’t already have your own kayak, local outfitters Crisfield Kayak and Canoe Rental (410-968-0333 or 443-783-2486; www.crisfieldkayaking.com) or Adrenaline High (410-749-2886 or 732-425-6454; www.adrenalinehigh.com) offer kayaks for rent and will meet you at various put in locations, including Janes Island State Park and they’ll load the kayaks on the freight boat for Smith Island (additional transportation fee). Janes Island also has a few boats for rent at the park store.
For more information about this and other things happening in Somerset County, contact Somerset County Tourism at 800-521-9189 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wendy Robertson is a frequent contributor to the Around Maryland blog. She writes about Somerset County and works for their local tourism office.