MD - Northeast River - 2002/05/23 - 15.6 miles
The town of Northeast, MD lies at the head of the tidal portion of Northeast River. An interesting and unique community park provides access to the river. Following the long spit of high cliffs between the Northeast River and the Elk River is the kayak race course of the annual Northeast Regatta.
|By Hank McComas
I left Bel Air at 9:00 and headed for Northeast Maryland. Passing through Havre de Grace, I traveled over the route 40 Thomas J Hatem bridge. This was probably the last time I would get to use my yearly pass that I had purchased last May. For the price of two trips across the bridge you can get a pass good for the entire year. My four dollar pass from last year was only the cost of one trip now that the toll had been raised to $4.00. Passes can be purchased right at the toll booth.
A leisurely drive of 50 minutes had me pulling into the Northeast Community Park at the head of the Northeast River. There I was greeted with a sign that proclaimed "No Boat Launching". I ignored it and proceeded to the end of the park where there is a sign pointing to the designated canoe and kayak launching area. On the way in I saw the Northeast Lighthouse that also doubles as a pavilion. There was a morning exercise class being conducted.
The launch site for canoes and kayaks is at the very end of the facility. There is a choice of two sites. One has a beach of sand at high tide pebbles at low tide facing into the main body of the river. The other is off the continuation of the canoe access spur and opens onto the continuation of Northeast River. The kayak will need to be carried about a hundred feet to either of these sites. Parking is back at the main parking lot. Since there are many other users of the park, parking might be an issue on popular weekends. The nice sand beach, lack of any other launching traffic, and nice swing, playground and picnic facilities makes this a very nice site for a day's outing. Here is close up of the posted regulations.
The Northeast River is a V shaped river extending approximately 5 miles from the Susquehanna flats north to the town of Northeast. It continues approximately 1/2 mile further on the west edge of town until it becomes unnavigable because of a gravel bar riffle extending completely across the stream. Several short tidal creeks filled with arrow arum, turtles and herons may be found along the west shore. There are several beaches along the west shore with a thin strip of undeveloped land between the river and the Amtrak rail lines. The banks of this region are covered in poison oak.
The rest of the river is developed with individual homes and marinas. This day I had decided to run the race course as set out for the Annual Northeast Regatta. I completed the 9.5 +- mile course in 1:53:37 with a 10 knot adverse diminishing wind on the outbound leg and a unfavorable increasing tidal current on the return. I don't race, but I thought it would be interesting to see what I could do in my short kayak and if I could keep up a fast pace for the two hours. At a little over 5 knot average I would not have been likely to win anything as most races are won at speeds of 5.5 knots and better. I can't say that I liked it much because I didn't get to see or investigate much of the river. Having returned to the park, I rested for a while in the picnic facilities and then spent another two hours investigation the small creeks mentioned earlier at a much slower pace. Altogether, it was a pleasant day with a total mileage of 15.6 miles.
Other nearby trips
Susquehanna Flats Three Lighthouse Tour
Elk River and Bohemia River