River Tours

Patuxent Riverkeeper operates a paddling visitor’s center at 17412 Nottingham Road; Upper Marlboro,MD 20772. The Visitor’s Center is open most days during business hours and also by appointment. The center rents kayaks and canoes, and the small but knowledgeable staff provides trip assistance and support. You can call us at 301-579-2073, The kayak rental line is on extension #5. We generally post scheduled and guided trip notices on our web site on the "calendar" and "events" areas and will sometimes organize custom trips for groups. The Patuxent in particular is a fantastic paddling environment. We have partnered with several organizations to post a web site: www.patuxentwatertrail.org to help the public find access and resources on the Patuxent. We stand ready to answer your questions about paddling and the Patuxent: info@paxriverkeeper.org


The word Patuxent is reputedly an Algonquin word that means water rushing over smooth stones. The river is usually placid with a tree lined canopy I the upper and middles section, gradually broadening to over 2.5 miles wide in the southern reaches. The River has a central role in the war of 1812 as the headquarters of the United States fledgling Navy Flotilla. It affords many historic destinations, camp sites, archeological treasures and places of uncommon beauty, scenery and wildlife. Some refer to the Patuxent as Chesapeake Bay in miniature because it is offers a bit of nearly every type of terrain and conditions to found throughout the tidal Chesapeake Bay.

The Patuxent remains tidal up to Route 50. Tide chart brochures are available from M-NCPPC and also at: www.patuxentwatertrail.org. The upper areas of the Patuxent near Laurel and the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge tend to be rather shallow and heavily snagged with downfalls and trees The Riverkeeper is presently organizing a volunteer work crew that works with the MD Conservation Corps and others in order to clear snags from Governor’s bridge down to Hill’s Bridge. The eventual plan is to extend the paddle trail northward above route 50 and into the region boundaries by the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge. Access to the lands of the Refuge and protected and the public is not allowed enter the lands of the preserve in order to protect sensitive experiments and the preservation mission of the National Refuge.

There are small "rips" and archeological remnants form over 200 years of human civilization along the river. Dams, bridges, railway trestles. The northern portions of the Patuxent Paddle path is a greenway that runs through heavily urbanizing sections of Montgomery, Anne Arundel and Prince George’s County. The Greenway is quiet, pristine and lush.


Queen Anne Bridge/Patuxent 4-H or Governor’s Bridge to Jug Bay

Queen Anne Bridge is a nationally registered historic site that spans between Prince George’s County and Anne Arundel. It is a single span truss bridge from the 1800’s and one on of the last remaining two remaining in America. It is not an ideal launch point for paddlers due to the muddy banks. Nonetheless, it an excellent landmark and waypoint for folks paddling up or downstream.

Governor’s Bridge Road

Governor’s bride is the site of a newly installed kayak launch slated for readiness in Spring of 2006. This section of river was recently cleared of snags by the MD Conservation Corps and is an excellent stretch for novice paddlers due to its shallow depths and easy launching. The tree lined banks have an excellent foot path due to the previous use by mules that once hauled barges along this section of river during the 1800’s. Again the region is scenic with occasional salt marshes and archeological relic along the water trail.

Jug Bay to Swanson’s Creek

This creek is near Benedict MD and located next to the Mirant power plant. It features one of two Heron Rookeries located on this section of the Patuxent. It is also next to Eagle Harbor which is the oldest incorporated African American town in the nation. Eagle Harbor residents once made their living from crabs and fish of the Patuxent but the town has evolved into a peaceful waterside retirement community with a stunning view of the river. There are beachheads and sand bars and other places on this route to stop for lunch and explore.

Jug Bay to Western Branch

The entrance to western Branch is marked by a wind swept hillside with a colonial mansion overlooking the Creek called Billinglsey. The mansion is now owned as a historic destination by M-NCPPC and has an ongoing archeological dig and a dockside picnic area. The sight lines are vast in this area and there are naturalist areas on the Anne Arundel County side of the river, natural trails, birding observation areas as rice paddies. There is a WSSC owned wastewater plant located upstream of the convergence of Western Branch and the main stem.

Nottingham Visitor’s Center to Merkle State Wildlife Sanctuary

Paddling at Nottingham is generally a very different experience than paddling in the upriver sections of the Patuxent. Nottingham is much more heavily influenced by tides, it is a deep water area and much more suitable for experienced or intermediate paddlers. Novice paddlers should take heed of the tidal phases, strong currents and should plan trips thoroughly and thoughtfully in this vast wilderness area that is rich with Maryland history, wildlife and scenic vistas. One can paddle up or down river in this relatively undeveloped section of river wedged between primitive camp sites and unspoiled stretches of river frontage.

Want to know more, or to book a trip? Visit www.patuxentwatertrail.org or send us an inquiry using the following form: