Assateague and Janes Island
My last several outings had been to the Outer Banks so it was time to get out of my rut and try something different. I hadn’t spent much time on the the Eastern Shore so I decided to head north and check out Assateague Island. With both a State Park and National Park located at the northern end of the island, I didn’t expect to have any trouble getting a camp site. I guess a little more planning and research would have been in order. Imagine my surprise when, at 10AM, I pulled up to the National Park Visitor Center and immediately saw a large sign indicating that both campgrounds were full. I guess the proximity to Ocean City and other metropolitan areas further north make Assateague a very popular destination. Both campgrounds do take reservations – so plan ahead.
Fortunately, the staff at the Visitor Center directed me to a campground called “Frontier Town” (a “Western Themed” R/V resort) that had a few vacancies. Although R/V resorts aren’t my cup of tea, I have to say it’s a great place for family vacations – lots of activities for kids, clean facilities, and relatively quiet.
Friday afternoon I scoped out the National Park and decided to launch from the site at the end of Old Ferry Road. There’s plenty of parking and a wide sandy area within 50 feet of the parking lot. I took a casual trip around “Little Egging Island” and then “Big Egging Island” before heading north and paddling by the other launch site (near the Bayside NP Campground). Heading east into the marsh, I was able to take the obligatory “Assateague Pony Photo”. The wind started kicking up in the afternoon so I took a bike ride into the park and then called it quits for the day.
Two nights were enough in the R/V park so I decided to get out early Sunday morning and head over to Janes Island State Park just north of Crisfield, MD. There are 6 paddle trails around the island that have been named by the American Canoe Association to their inaugural list of North America’s best paddle trails. Seemed like something worth checking out. What a difference 40 miles can make–the campground was practically empty. One section offers electrical hookups (no water/sewer) and plenty of sites were available so I decided to spend another night and paddle some of their trails.
After setting up camp, I drove over to the launch site. They have a floating dock specifically for canoes and kayaks that’s about 75 feet from the nearest parking place. Not quite as convenient as launching from a nice shallow sandy beach, but better that dealing with the concrete boat ramp. I decided to head north and put together the brown, green, and yellow trails for an approximately 6 mile loop. Although the wind was out of the west and made paddling the section around the northern tip somewhat tedious, that end of the island offers a lot of opportunities to stop and enjoy the sandy beaches. The trails are well marked and provide a number of options to put together routes of various lengths. Maps and GPS waypoints are available on their web site if you’d like more information. I’ll probably try to get back up there in the Fall and paddle the slightly longer southern loop.
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