|The Patuxent river flows from west of Baltimore, past Ellicott City and forms the border between Prince Georges and Anne Arundel County. It empties into the Chesapeake Bay at Solomon's Island, once a sleepy little waterman's town that has now been discovered as a trendy tourist destination for Washingtonians.
Along the river a series of state and county parks provide launch ramps and facilities for kayaking the largely undeveloped banks of the river. The Patuxent River is more like an eastern shore river than the typical western shore river of the middle and upper Bay. The banks are lower and the river is longer. It is filled with marsh areas of grass, lilies and arrow arum like the Chester River. It even has a stand of cypress tress like the Pocomoke. It is a great paddle experience without the need to travel across the Bay, especially for those who live south of Baltimore and east of Washington.
And yet I had not paddled it until this year, an oversight that I was determined to correct. I picked Jug Bay for my maiden voyage on the river. This wider than typical section of the Patuxent is protected on both sides by park, contains significant marshes and is the main facility for park administration. I would be able to get my yearly park permit here ($10.00) that would allow me to use all the facilities of the Prince Georges County Patuxent River Park.
I arrived at the park just as the office was opening and got my permit, good for the calendar year. The $10.00 yearly permit is only slightly more than the $7.00 day permit. Unless you are sure that you will not be back during the year, just get the yearly permit.
Several people were fishing at the separate fishing pier from the single ramp and floating dock. Signs indicated that weekends might be more hectic, but there was no launching activity and just a couple of trailers at the medium sized parking lot. I dropped my boat onto the grass near the launch and parked. I was soon loaded up and eased into the cockpit of the kayak from the comfortably low floating dock provided for canoe and kayak launching.
I paddled through the meandering leads of the marsh and rejoined the river as it looped back to the west. I paddled down to a small stream opening and poked up into the shallow waters. I turned a sharp bend in the narrow river to surprise to yellow lab mutts obviously out hunting in the wildlife preserve. Their bright pick tongues hung well out f their mouths as they bounded away through the shallow water in pursuit of the next wild creature to harass or kill. I thought it irresponsible of their owner to leave these two out to do harm just for the fun of it.
Returning to the river, I paddled south to the next landing, Selby Landing, just a little more than a mile south Jackson's Landing. With the dropping tide there was a nice little beach and I pulled up there to check out the facilities here. (see ramp info.) There was some current running under the dock next to the beach so a little care was required went launching from the beach. (movie of the current.) At half tide, it was likely that this was the strongest current I would see for the day.
I ferried across the current and poked into a small series of leads in the marsh across from the ramp. The map showed that this lead went through, but at half tide it was not possible to press all the way back to the river. i back paddled until I found a spot to turn around. The heavy arrum and thin leaved cat tails made several back and forth tries necessary before I could get the 16 foot kayak turned in the 17 foot wide spot in the marsh.
I rejoined the river and paddled south for another several miles until low tide. Many parts of the side creeks were unnavigable due to low water. When the current did reverse i headed back up towards Jackson Landing. the speed with which the water level rose was noticeably greater than the rate at which it had dropped, as is consistent with the shorter four hour time to high tide.
I reached Jackson's Landing at 4:00 PM and loaded up. The group fishing on the pier had changed - another set of fishermen were trying their luck. I saw one pull up a fair sized cat fish while I was loading. There was only one trailer that loaded in the thirty minutes it took me to get everything into and onto the van.
My first day on the Patuxent had been very enjoyable. I knew I would be back.