All Things Kayaking

The Wild Ponies of Assateague

Assateague Island National Park kayak trips always feature plenty of wildlife. With the the wild ponies as the highlight.

Ferry Landing Road is the best kayak put-in site. You can park right at the beach and unload practically into the water.  There’s a coarse gravel beach here, and the water is shallow. This is another spot we’ve used to teach our grandchildren to kayak.

From Ferry Landing a number of options exist for kayaking on Sinepuxent Bay. Going north, one can paddle under the Verrazano Bridge which carries the road into the park. A pony herd frequents this area. Sadly, a car struck and killed one of this herd on this day later in the evening. North of the bridge is Assateague Island State Park. This area is often closed during the summer for nesting water birds. When open, one can put ashore on the bay side and walk across the island to the Atlantic.

Going south you could paddle all the way to Chincoteague, and there are several paddle in campsites along the way. Or instead there are many coves for exploring, particularly at high tide.

Sinepuxent Bay can be windy, and that often dictates where one can paddle. On this early October Day we chose to paddle south.

Leaving the beach at Ferry Landing, we met our first pony herd munching serenely on the marsh. As when on land, staying a safe distance from the ponies is essential. They are wild animals with the ability to cause serious injury.  We respect them and always give them space.

The water is shallow near the put in, and one must paddle directly to the west before turning south. We skirted Little Egging Island and quickly found ourselves surrounded by marshland.  Red Swampfire, or salt wort,  was growing among the grass and added a colorful counterpoint to the green and brown fields.  Numerous egrets hunted along shallow stretches of water.

The wind and waves drove us to seek calmer water pretty quickly. Rounding the first point, we paddled deep into a long cove to the east.  In the distance we spotted another herd of ponies and paddled closer for a look.  One herd had a foal cavorting within the ranks.

Paddling south past Lumber Marsh was challenging due to the wind and waves. After exploring various guts and coves, we decided rounding the next point south against the wind and outflowing tide was too challenging. Instead, we circled around Lumber Marsh and headed back north past Little Egging Island.

There we encountered a large number of egrets and a watchful pony eyeing us suspiciously.

All in all it was a beautiful day for a paddle.  The shallow sandy shores of Assateague are a fun and safe place to go and where else can you find wild ponies?

20171005_175806_GPS Topo Map

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