Water fun in the outdoors

June 12, 2010|By CELESTE MAIORANA / Special to The Herald-Mail
  • Indian Springs Wildlife Management area, north of Clear Spring, as seen in May 2009, is a great place to fish and enjoy the area waterways.
Photo by Celeste Maiorana,

Our woodlands are important to clean water and vibrant healthy ecosystems. The woodlands and the water bodies and ways they buffer also present tremendous recreational opportunities. Take a walk, view plants and animals, fish, run, bike, boat, float or raft. Go alone or with friends, family or a guided group. Getting out into the great outdoors is fun and healthy.

Part I of this series, published in January, gave an overview of the region's public lands and their recreation possibilities.

As spring gives way to summer, it's a good time to think about water fun.

Some of the parks have lakes, some fed by clear mountain streams and springs, and are surrounded by lovely woodlands, which provide opportunities to boat, fish and swim. They are also good places to learn and practice water and paddling skills and techniques.

Activities on rivers and creeks present wonderfully different views of the countryside than those we usually see. Because the water is moving and you are generally going with the flow, they present opportunities to view plants and animals, particularly birds, sometimes while taking it easy. Their journeys take them through public and private lands. They can be accessed from road bridge crossings, in parks and other public places.


There are relatively flat, meandering sections and sections that present a fun and moderately easy whitewater adventure. Because moving water has its own special hazards, knowledge, experience and caution are advisable. If you are a novice, use a guide or contact a local paddling club to learn the necessary skills.

The Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers present year-round recreational opportunities. For some paddlers, the air is never too cold nor the water levels too high to go out. For most of us, summer and fall are delightful times to tube, raft, or paddle a canoe or kayak. The water may be warmer, the current more lazy, and the rapids easier to negotiate.

There are also many creeks that are navigable by canoe and kayak at least some of the year. These water trails may connect parks. For instance, Antietam Creek connects Devils Backbone Park, Antietam National Battlefield and the C & O Canal National Historical Park as it flows to the Potomac River.

The slow meandering Conococheague Creek and the brisker Antietam Creek, both of which begin in Pennsylvania and flow to the Potomac River, are generally navigable throughout the year although they can get low during prolonged dry periods.

Smaller creeks that can be kayaked or canoed in winter and spring within a few days of a hard rain are (east to west): Catoctin Creek (two to four days), Beaver Creek from Interstate 70 Park & Ride to Alternate U.S. 40 (one to three days), Licking Creek (one week), Tonoloway Creek (one to three days) and Sidling Hill Creek (three to four days).

One of my favorite easy early summer canoe/kayak trips is the Potomac River from Sandy Hook/ Weaverton to Brunswick. The river channels braid through many islands, making it particularly good for bird watching.

We are fortunate that our region has so much quality public land and provides such good opportunities for summer water fun.

Celeste Maiorana is a member of the Washington County Forest Conservancy District Board, which promotes forest conservation in Washington County. Please visit online at .

Helpful sites

If you're interested in paddling area canoe trails, a valuable reference is:

Maryland and Delaware Canoe Trails, by Edward Gertler; The Seneca Press, Silver Spring, MD, 3rd Edition, 1989.

Or go to Mason Dixon Canoe Cruisers's site at /

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