Chesapeake Version of Main Island Trail?

After seeing that awesome video of the "Boatymoon" in Maine on  a NE Dory I got to thinking about where I could take my (newly completed) Dory.  Main looked beautiful, but I live in Delaware and wonder if there is anywhere around here that is similiar in that:

1.  It is beautiful

2.  Accesible by oar and sail

3.  camp-able

I know not everyone on this forum is from this region but any thoughts or suggestions would as always be appreciated.

7 replies:

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RE: Chesapeake Version of Main Island Trail?

Maybe not Maine but with its own beauty, Assateaque Sound & Assateaque Island.

Also the Barrier Islands to the South.

I'm currently building a Northeaster Dory & hope to explore these and areas in the lower bay that I'm more familiar with this Spring and Summer.

Best regards,


RE: Chesapeake Version of Maine Island Trail?

The absence of a Maine Island Trail equivalent on the Chesapeake has been noticed and much work has been done.

The National Park Service has laid out the Captain John Smith National Historic Trail, which hopscotches around the Chesapeake following Smith's two epic explorations of the Bay in an open boat in 1608.  Here's the link to the website for the Trail.  (WARNING:  you will be distracted by this fun site for a long time.)

We have been working with WaterTribe and the National Park Service to encourage small boat camping on the Chesapeake.  The first small step is a 65-mile endurance race through a couple of famously beautiful sections of the Bay, starting the day after OkoumeFest.  The hope is to extend the race (more of a "rally," really) to take in more and more of the John Smith Trail in coming years.  Here's the map of this year's race, a loop containing Kent Island, Eastern Neck Island, and Wye Island.

The Maine Island Trail is something very special, and shows what great things can be accomplished with public-private partnerships.  I've done the entire trail from Kennebec to the Canada border in an open boat, myself.  

The reason this sort of thing isn't well established on the Chesapeake can be summed up in one word:  latitude.  Maine's cold and rugged northern coast is mostly privately-owned, but the weather keeps the tourist hoards, and their condos and beach development, in check.  The result is hundreds of miles of uninhabited islands and beaches allowing small boats and kayaks to hop from campsite to campsite in safe intervals of 10 or 15 miles at the most.  In case you missed it, here's a compulsively watchable video log of a Maine Island Trail cruise in a Northeaster Dory.

On the Chesapeake, a combination of heavy shoreline development and private land means that campsites are few and far between.  The NPS is working on this.  They recognize that engaging small boat people like us is a great way to promote the Chesapeake's waterways.    

Here's the OkoumeFest Challenge.  (Green denotes stealth-camping possibilities.)

RE: Chesapeake Version of Main Island Trail?

Thanks John and all!

This is similar to what is going on in NY on the Hudson...

There are several groups involved including the Hudson River Watertrail Association which has a great guide book (soon to be updated).


RE: Chesapeake Version of Main Island Trail?

I almost hate to tell people about this since it's my favorite place to paddle and is currently pleasantly empty. It's the Patuxent Water Trail. There are 6 campsites accessible only from the water.

Most of the river in Patuxent River Park is tidal, so if you plan it right, the tide can send you upstream and the current will take you back down.

Due to trees and other blockages, a Wood Duck is a better choice than a Chesapeake, especially in the wild rice marshes. Rowed boats do well, too, but the trees and shallows aren't nice to sailboats.



RE: Chesapeake Version of Main Island Trail?

I built my ch18 for this kind of trip (OFUM). So, signed up and need to get some long paddles in to get the endurance up. Looks like a great circuit! 

RE: Chesapeake Version of Main Island Trail?

Here's another cool link

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