The Lower Eastern Shore

(Dorchester, Wicomico, Somerset, Worcester counties)


The southern part of Maryland’s Eastern Shore is characterized by its predominately rural landscape which features farmland, pine forests, marshes and beaches. Population centers include Salisbury and Ocean City (particularly during summer months.) Numerous small streams and larger creeks can be found throughout the area. The Atlantic Ocean, Tangier Sound, Chincoteague and Sinexpuxent bays and the Nanticoke, Wicomico, Manokin, and Big Annemessex rivers are the major waterways in this area and support the majority of recreational boating activity.


Janes Island State Park Water Trails
(Somerset County)

Janes Island Water Trails map cover The Janes Island State Park Water Trail map/guide features seven water trails, all of which begin and end at the Janes Island State Park Marina and boat launch. The trails provide a wide variety of paddling experiences so there are options for all levels of expertise. The map/guide also includes information on park amenities, camping, boating safety and regulations and the area’s natural resources. The trails range in length from 1.25 to 12.5 miles and include routes along the open waters of Tangier Sound, the Big and Little Annemessex Rivers as well as various creeks and marsh routes. This map/guide is available at Janes Island State Park and from the DNR Outdoor Store at http://shopdnr.com/watertrails.aspx.

Fishing Bay Water Trail
(Dorchester County)

Cover of Tilghman Island Water Trails Fishing Bay Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is the largest parcel of publicly owned tidal wetlands in Maryland. Situated adjacent to the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge on the lower Eastern Shore, Fishing Bay’s 28,500 acres offer boaters and paddlers a remote wilderness experience. The WMA has a boat ramp, parking area and features miles of meandering creeks, marsh, secluded ponds and islands of loblolly pine. The Fishing Bay Water Trail was developed in 2001 by Maryland DNR and has two identified trails that total approximately 10 miles. This map is currently out of print and unavailable in hard copy, however you can download an electronic version by clicking on the links below:

Fishing Bay Water Trail Map - Side One
Fishing Bay Water Trail Map - Side Two
For more information visit Fishing Bay WMA.

Nanticoke River: Explorer’s Welcome
(Dorchester and Wicomico counties)

Cover of Nanticoke River Explorer This publication was developed in 2008 as a bi-state effort between Maryland and Delaware to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Captain John Smith’s explorations of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, including the Nanticoke River. Two maps are featured, one showing present day public water access and information and another showing heritage and cultural resources along with some notations on Captain John Smith’s travels along the Nanticoke. This map is available through the DNR Outdoor Store at http://shopdnr.com/watertrails.aspx. and at the Sailwinds Visitor Center at #2 Rose Hill Place in Cambridge, Maryland.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge Paddling Trails
(Dorchester County)

Cover of Tilghman Island Water Trails Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1933 as a waterfowl sanctuary for birds migrating along the critical migration highway called the Atlantic Flyway. Blackwater Refuge is located on Maryland's Eastern Shore, 12 miles south of Cambridge, and consists of over 25,000 acres of freshwater impoundments, brackish tidal wetlands, open fields, and mixed evergreen and deciduous forests. Blackwater is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Three marked canoe/kayak trails, totaling over 20 miles are available for paddling. Boats may be launched from designated areas only. This maps can be purchased at the refuge visitor center. For more information call 410-228-2677 or visit https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Blackwater/

Smith Island Water Trails
(Somerset County)

Cover of Smith Island Water TrailsThough best known as a waterman’s community, Smith Island is also a paddler’s paradise for day or overnight trips. The island is located 9 miles offshore from Crisfield, Maryland and can only be reached by boat. Ferries leave twice daily from Crisfield and will carry kayaks for a small fee. Meandering creeks run throughout the island’s 8000 acres of marsh and provide extensive paddling routes close to three island villages. The Smith Island Water Trails Paddler’s Guide details seven, marked, water trails, which vary in length from 1 to 4.4 miles, but there are also huge expanses of open water which offer endless opportunities for the experienced paddler. The open water routes are unmarked and local knowledge should be consulted before embarking. To learn more and to download maps visit http://www.paddlesmithisland.com/

E.A. Vaughn Kayak and Canoe Trail
(Worcester County)

Cover of E.A. Vaughn Kayak and Canoe TrailThe E.A. Vaughn Wildlife Management Area is located in southeastern Worcester County and features over 3500 acres of habitat for plants and animals that are native to the Delmarva Peninsula. The E.A. Vaughn Kayak and Canoe Trail was developed in 2005 through a partnership between Delmarva Low Impact Tourism Experiences (DLITE), Maryland DNR, The Coastal Bays Program, and Worcester County. Three paddling routes which range in length from 3 to 6 miles can be accessed from either Taylor’s Landing or George Island Landing. A primitive camping area is also available for overnight stays. For additional information, contact the Wellington Wildlife Office at (410) 543-8223. Copies of the Kayak and Canoe Trail map can be obtained by calling 1-800-852-0335 or 410-213-2297.

A NOTE ABOUT THE POCOMOKE RIVER - here are a multitude of long and short paddling trips on the Pocomoke River. Suitable for canoes and kayaks, the flat, tidal river provides a unique, close-up view of the cypress swamp for paddlers of all abilities. The tides in the Pocomoke River can sometimes exceed three feet and the currents can run as fast as two knots. Rowboats and canoes are available for rental at Pocomoke River State Park or in nearby Snow Hill.

Corker’s Creek Blackwater Canoe Trail
(Worcester County)

Corker’s Creek is a tributary of the Pocomoke River that winds through the Pocomoke River State Forest. The Corker’s Creek Canoe Trail is a 2 mile self-guided canoe trail that is perfect for a short recreational paddle. The tranquil, flat water is perfect for novices and families. The entire route can be completed in less than two hours. This trail provides paddlers with the opportunity to experience the sites and sounds of the cypress swamp as they follow the edge of the Pocomoke River Wildland. The trail is ideal for viewing wildlife and flowering plants make the trip picturesque April through October. A laminated version of the Corker's Creek Canoe Trail Guide is available at the Pocomoke River State Park Office.

Bog Iron Water Trail
(Worcester County)

Cover of Bog Iron Water Trails

The Bog Iron Water Trail is an existing network of water trail routes along the Pocomoke River and Nassawango Creek. The route along the Pocomoke River runs between the town of Snow Hill and Shad Landing State Park. The route along Nassawango Creek runs from the canoe launch at Red House Road to the confluence of the Pocomoke River. A brochure with a small map is available from the Worcester County Department of Tourism. For more information call 1-800-852-0335.

Nassawango Creek Canoe Trail
(Worcester County)

The lower part of Nassawango Creek from Red House Road to the Pocomoke River is an easy paddle for canoeists or kayakers. Over 3000 acres along Nassawango Creek have been preserved by the Nature Conservancy, which makes this 2.5 mile route, bordered by Bald Cypress forests a beautiful one. For a shorter trip (1.5 miles) take out at Nassawango Road. For more information call 1-800-852-0335.

Sinepuxent Bay Water Trail
(Worcester County)

The Sinepuxent Bay Water Trails are existing routes that skirt the Assateague Island National Seashore on Chincoteague Bay. Two routes, the Old Ferry Landing Loop and the Bayside Loop can be accessed from launch sites off of Bayberry Road and Bayside Drive. Both routes circle Little Egging Island and provide opportunities too explore the marshes. For more information call 1-800-852-0335.

Monie Bay Water Trails at Deal Island Wildlife Management Area
(Somerset County)

Monie Bay is a component of the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (CBNERR) and is located within the Deal Island Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The WMA is a 13,000 acre state-owned property that features expanses of tidal marsh, open water, forested wetlands and a 2,800-acre man-made pond or "impoundment." The WMA provides opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, boating and hiking. In partnership with several DNR programs, CBNERR led an effort to develop three water trails at Deal Island WMA that would help to increase public access to Monie Bay and provide information on the natural resources and maritime history of the area. This document was developed for online viewing and downloading and is not available in hard copy. View and download the PDF here.

Other products showing water access in this region include:

Birding in the Heart of Chesapeake Country: Trail Guide to Dorchester County
(Dorchester and Wicomico counties)

Cover of Birding in the Heart of Chesapeake Country - Trail Guide to Dorchester CountyThis publication was developed in 2005 through a partnership between Maryland DNR and the Dorchester County Tourism Department. Geared towards bird watching and wildlife viewing, it details five separate driving routes through Dorchester County that are excellent for viewing bird species. A large map shows public water access sites along with other sites where wildlife viewing is particularly good. Free copies of this map are available at the Sailwinds Visitor Center at #2 Rose Hill Place in Cambridge, Maryland, or contact them by phone at 1-800-522-TOUR. View or download an electronic version of Birding in the Heart of Chesapeake Country guide.

Online Services


Chesapeake Bay Hotline

Call 1-877-224-7229
to report any of the following

  • Boating accident or reckless activity
  • Fish kill or algal bloom
  • Floating debris that poses a hazard to navigation
  • Illegal fishing activity
  • Public sewer leak or overflow
  • Oil or hazardous material spill
  • Critical area or wetlands violation
  • Suspicious or unusual activity