Spring arrived in March, and although many days have been cold and rainy, warmer days are on the horizon. Anne Arundel County offers plenty of options for anyone who wants to enjoy the weather while on the water, from kayak launches to boat ramps.
Mayo Beach Park
4150 Honeysuckle Drive in Edgewater
Mayo Beach Park open days are free and available for canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing and paddleboarding. The park will open expanded hours, including weekdays, in 2022.
“It’s wonderful that people who work weekends can now enjoy the county’s best public swimming beach,” said Department of Recreation and Parks advisory board member Mike Lofton.
The first public open day of the year is Monday, April 25. See the full schedule at www.aacounty.org/services-and-programs/mayo-beach-park-public-open-days.
Spriggs Farm Park
965 Bayberry Drive in Arnold
Open from dawn to dusk (subject to change)
Windsurfers fly from Spriggs Farm Park on the lower Magothy. Spriggs also has a kayak launch, a beach for wading, waterfront picnic tables, birdwatching at a tidal pond, and trails through the woods. A kayak cart is useful for the steep hill down to the beach.
Spriggs is a gated park. Get the gate lock combination here: www.aacounty.org/locations-and-directions/spriggs-farm-park-on-the-magothy.
Spriggs Farm Park may undergo construction this summer, so check the website for updates.
8320 Beachwood Park Road in Pasadena
Open from dawn to dusk
Located on the upper Magothy River, Beachwood Park has a kayak launch, shore fishing, trails through the woods, and benches for daydreaming by the water. A kayak cart is handy for the hill down to the kayak beach.
Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Park
1543 Fairview Beach Road in Pasadena
Open from dawn to dusk
This wooded 235-acre park has a wading beach on Rock Creek, trails through the woods and shore fishing on a tidal pond. The outer gate and parking lot are open only on weekends. Park along the road outside the gate on weekdays and walk in.
Mark Bange, a kayak angler and author of the book “Fly by the Seat of Your Kayak,” said a small monetary investment in Weinberg Park could make a big difference for water access.
“I have launched from Weinberg Park in its present rustic condition,” he said. “It was a tough, long trek through an overgrown path in the woods during my last visit and the launch site was strewn with bricks and other building debris. I have not returned.
“Its location is ideal. It offers even closer access to Rock Creek than the new launch at Fort Smallwood. I do not believe there is a need for a highly developed, costly launch site there similar to Solley Cove and Fort Smallwood. Clearing the path and providing a simple soft-landing launch with either sand or gravel would satisfy most kayakers.”
Fort Smallwood Park
9500 Fort Smallwood Road in Pasadena
Open from 5:30am to dusk
The Department of Recreation and Parks opened a second kayak launch last summer near the restored historic concession stand. Located on the west side of Fort Smallwood, the new sheltered launch provides easy access to Rock Creek and White Pond, with the Weinberg Park beach only a short paddle away. The public beach and kayak launch on the east side of the park, closed in 2021 for an erosion control project, reopened in early April. Fort Smallwood also has a public boat ramp and 380-foot fishing pier.
“The benefit of the new kayak launch at Fort Smallwood is that it provides closer access for kayak anglers to reach both the White Rocks and Rock Creek,” Bange said. “The new launch enters into a protected cove, which offers leeside relief from winds and resulting waves that can make the original kayak launch into the larger Patapsco River problematic.
“There is another benefit to the new launch. Kayakers can now head north in the Patapsco or northwest to Rock Creek without paddling past the shore anglers who frequent Fort Smallwood Park. Many of those anglers cast far from shore, making the possibility of kayakers tangling with their lines a real concern.”
Bange said the waters that border Fort Smallwood Park are relatively shallow. “Even 150 yards from shore, the depth rarely exceeds 10 feet,” he said. “Many kayakers troll paddletails on jigs or crankbaits for stripers near the park and do quite well, especially in the fall. Kayak anglers who prefer to cast lures and flies can target structure along shorelines near the park or the White Rocks themselves for white perch and stripers.”
The access to Rock Creek by the new launch provides a more protected, small water fishery.
“The creek's various shallow coves and fingers provide ideal habitat for pickerel and even snakeheads in addition to white perch and stripers,” Bange said. “Channel catfish and occasionally yellow perch also inhabit the creek. While the Patapsco River is big water, Rock Creek offers kayak anglers a more leisurely, calm water fishing experience.”
8311 John Downs Loop in Pasadena
Open from 7:00am to dusk
Downs Park, on the Chesapeake Bay and Bodkin Creek in Pasadena, has two kayak launches, a wading beach, a dog beach and a 328-foot fishing pier, along with an osprey telescope, waterfront picnic pavilion and trails along the bay and Locust Cove.
The east kayak launch, right onto the open waters of the bay, is not far from the fishing pier. The sheltered west kayak launch is on Locust Cove off Bodkin Creek. Ask the Downs staff at the park entrance kiosk to open the west side gate for access.
Casual paddlers should start with the more sheltered Bodkin kayak launch. Even though both launches are a flat carry from the parking lot, a kayak cart is still good to have, especially after paddling. There is also a Canton Kayak Club docking station (kayak rack) by the Bodkin launch. CKC is a cooperative kayak club. Pay an affordable annual membership fee, get trained and then use kayaks at about 10 CKC locations from Pennsylvania to Annapolis to go kayaking anytime from May 1 to October 31.
Green Haven Wharf
7720 Outing Avenue in Pasadena
Open from dawn to dusk
Green Haven Wharf is the only public water access point on Stoney Creek. It’s well-used and well-loved for shore fishing, launching kayaks and standup paddleboarding, nature watching, and docking big boats. A renovation of Green Haven will begin May 1 and is expected to be completed by August.
Valerie Fox, president of the Green Haven Improvement Association, urged the county to make the improvements, specifically railings for added safety.
“The wharf is in disrepair,” she said. “It’s not safe and it’s not [Americans with Disabilities Act] compatible. The Green Haven Wharf is really all we have left in our community since the skating rink closed.”
She had help from Delegate Nic Kipke, Councilman Nathan Volke and County Executive Steuart Pittman in getting the project funded.
“The kayak area had eroded away,” Fox said. “Just by clearing the beach area and the shoreline, it will create better water access at the wharf.”
Because the area is small and parking is limited, some amenities, such as portable toilets, are not feasible, Fox said. But the community has requested more lighting, benches, a picnic area and other small additions.
“We talked about activities families can do with younger kids,” she said, adding that the kayak launch will be accessible for everyone. “I am very grateful for this because it is long overdue. In Green Haven, in Pasadena alone, most of the beaches are private. It’s important to our community to have public water access.”
Solley Cove Park
7360 Carbide Road in Curtis Bay
Open from dawn to dusk
This park boasts a free public boat ramp and a kayak launch that is especially popular with kayak anglers. Paddle up Marley Creek to discover a marina and Brewers Island, a private island with two houses accessible only by water. Boaters and kayakers going up Furnace Creek can stop at Duke’s Tavern, The Beach Bar and Rams Head Dockside. Paddlers going to Curtis Bay will find the burned wreckage of wooden ships from World War I and a sunken tugboat outside the I-495 bridge. American Legion Post 277, an inholding in the park, welcomes the public to its waterfront tiki bar after a day on the water.
Sandy Point State Park
1100 East College Parkway in Annapolis
Open from 7:00am to dusk
Whether you’re into swimming, fishing, crabbing or boating, this 786-acre site located along the northwestern shore of the Chesapeake Bay has a variety of activities. Visitors can splash through one of numerous beaches, and a bathhouse near the beach provides a restroom and showering facilities. Fishing from the shoreline is permitted to everyone with a Chesapeake Bay sportfishing license and anyone under the age of 16.
The Public Water Access Committee submitted a Fiscal Year 2023 budget request to County Executive Steuart Pittman that focused on public swimming beaches, boat ramps and kayak launches.
Beaches: Mayo Beach Park will be open to the general public for an expanded schedule in 2022, though not on the year-round schedule requested by the committee. The promised-since-1985 public swimming beach at Beverly Triton Nature Park is scheduled to be completed, 37 years later, in October 2022.
Boat ramps: Anne Arundel County has 14,000 trailered boats and only three county public boat ramps (Solley Cove Park, Fort Smallwood Park, Discovery Village). Even if the state ramp at Sandy Point State Park and the Annapolis city ramps at Truxton Park and Weems Creek are counted, Anne Arundel County has a small number of public boat ramps. The committee asked the county executive to identify the locations of the next three public boat ramps and begin construction on one of them.
Kayak launches: As opposed to the more costly public swimming beaches and boat ramps, new kayak launches can often be created as “pocket change” projects in existing county parks for less than $1,000 and volunteer labor. Lisa Arrasmith, chair of the Public Water Access Committee, described a potential pocket change kayak launch from the Weinberg Park beach onto Rock Creek.
“All it would take,” she said, “is to open the park gates, mark and sign unimproved unloading and parking areas near the beach, mulch the existing footpath down to the beach and clear some rubble from the water line. A [portable toilet] would also be much appreciated by people, especially women. That’s all it would take to create a new kayak launch in Weinberg Park for $1,000 and volunteer labor.”
She added that there are other potential pocket change projects around the county. Pittman is expected to present his budget on April 29.
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