Exploring Baltimore’s Harbor By Kayak

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IMG_0384Have you ever seen kayakers paddling in the Inner Harbor or Middle Branch River and wondered if that could be you? Thanks to an expanded Baltimore City Department of Recreation & Parks kayaking program, the Canton Kayak Club, and Ultimate Watersports, everyone in Baltimore can enjoy our urban waterways. Not only is kayaking fun and active, but the many clean-up initiatives underway to improve our waterways will make more sense when we can see the progress and potential. Keep calm and paddle on. 

Baltimore City Department of Recreation & Parks Kayaking

A one-woman force, Molly Gallant leads Baltimore City’s Outdoor Recreation programs. Gallant’s mission is to offer robust outdoor programming that gets citizens from every neighborhood out walking, camping, fishing, and boating. A key program goal is to make kayaking accessible for all citizens – especially kayaking “newbies.”

All of the Baltimore City kayaking programs, except the Harbor Waterfront Row, are launched from the Middle Branch Park boat house. Once an auto junkyard, the pretty 150-acre park is located on the middle branch of the Patapsco River in southern Baltimore. Offering wildlife viewing and a boardwalk, the park also houses Baltimore City’s boathouse.

With support from of the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, Baltimore City’s kayaking program has been expanded. With loads of kayaks and ten experienced staff, Parks & Rec. has designed several affordable kayaking tours. 

Open Row runs from April through September in the evenings. For only $10, enjoy a two-hour guided tour on your rented kayak. On Sunday afternoons, launch your kayak from the Inner Harbor’s Science Center and see our Inner Harbor from a whole new point-of-view. The price is $20 for Baltimore City residents and $30 for non-residents.

Not a swimmer? A bit uncomfortable around water? Baltimore City’s Learn to Kayak program takes place at the Cherry Hill Splash Park and is designed for people who rarely, if ever, enjoy water activities. Offered on Saturdays for only $2, Baltimore City instructors teach students kayaking skills in a safe environment.

For only $2, the Learn to Kayak program is offered at the Cherry Hill Splashpark's pool.
For only $2, the Learn to Kayak program is offered at the Cherry Hill Splashpark’s pool.

With all the news about sewage flowing into Baltimore’s harbor, you may find it surprising that kayaking in the harbor is cleaner than you’d expect. Helping to keep waterways clean, Blue Water Baltimore coordinates with Baltimore City for the Canoe and Scoop tour. This tour not only boats but also collects trash along the Middle Branch Park’s shoreline. 

Baltimore City and Blue Water Baltimore offer Canoe and Scoop trash pick-up tours. People, litter goes in those big green cans!
Baltimore City and Blue Water Baltimore offer Canoe and Scoop trash pick-up tours. People, litter goes in those big green cans!

To enjoy Baltimore City kayaking trips it is highly recommended to register online. Online registration is a bit tricky via the Baltimore City web site, but it’s still doable if you follow these directions: Click here, scroll to bottom of page, and click on Canoeing/Kayaking (pictured below) to access the online registration page.

Visit http://tinyurl.com/BCRPfindyourparkbysea. Scroll to bottom. Click on the “Canoeing/Kayaking” (pictured above) to access the kayaking registration and payment page.

 Kayaking Makes Chesapeake Bay Relatable

Getting Baltimore’s citizens out on our urban waters is important. Billions of dollars are being invested to clean up stormwater pollution and trash, to update our area’s century-old sewage system, and to build green infrastructure. Real and durable trash cans mean less litter flowing right into the harbor.

Gallant, of the Baltimore Department of Recreation and Parks adds, “No one will care about improving out watershed if they have never used it. The Chesapeake Bay is about ten minutes from most residents’ homes. When we experience our beautiful waterways, we will appreciate them and hopefully we will save them.”

Canton Kayak Club

If having more access to a kayak between May to October is a better option, check out the member-run Canton Kayak ClubDesigned for beginner to experienced adult kayakers, the club boasts 500 members and 80 kayaks. Members can paddle from seven dock locations, including the club’s newest launch in Delta, Pennsylvania off of the Susquehanna River. The $165 membership includes kayaks and paddles and personal flotation devises. Canton Kayak Club is about having fun and making friends, evidenced by their monthly happy hours and a full social event calendar.

Ultimate Watersports Kayak Rentals

Located at Gunpowder State Park, Dundee Creek Marina, or the Sunset Cove Restaurant in Bowley’s Quarters, Ultimate Watersports is a full-service water sports rental outfit. Ultimate Watersports offers kayak, Stand-Up Paddle board, sailboat, and windsurfer rentals from their three locations

Baltimore Rowing Club

Baltimore’s harbor is also home to the crew racing Baltimore Rowing Club. Instead of kayaks, this club’s members race and row beautiful racing shells. The club offers junior and adult teams, but also hosts Friday Fun Rowing events for anyone interested in crew. Check out the rowing boathouse, learn to use a rowing machine, and if the weather is optimal, ride with a crew and coxswain during the club’s monthly Friday Fun Rowing events.

Laurel Peltier
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Laurel Peltier

Laurel writes the environmental GreenLaurel column every other Thursday in the Baltimore Fishbowl. A graduate of UVA's MBA program, she spends her time with her family and making "all things green" interesting.
Laurel Peltier
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