Bald Eagles

Front and Back, two creeks to remember

October 8th and 9th, 2018, found us spending two perfect autumn days kayaking near St. Michaels, Maryland. The town of St. Michaels is one of our very favorite destinations, and we highly recommend the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and the St. Michaels Winery. On this trip, we put in at Neavitt Landing on the first day and the Phillips Wharf Environmental Center at Knapp’s Narrows on the second. This blog post will focus on our day of kayaking starting at Knapp’s Narrows which took us to Front Creek and Back Creek.

The boat ramp at the Environmental Center is overgrown but still usable and it’s located by the drawbridge which connects Tilghman Island to the mainland. While preparing to launch our kayaks the drawbridge went up providing a nice photo opportunity.

Watching the Tilghman Island Drawbridge in action at Knapp’s Narrows

When launching from the Environmental Center boat ramp into Knapp’s Narrows you are in a high boat traffic area which requires your constant attention. At certain times the tidal flow through the narrows is quite fast. From the boat ramp we paddled to the left under the bridge, towards the Bay, and then made a right by Tar Island.

Kayaking down Knapp’s Narrows heading for Tar Island

Keeping Tar Island, which always attracts birds, on your left one soon reaches the entrance to Back Creek on the right. An immature bald eagle perched in a tall tree guarded the entrance and a short distance upstream we encountered a herd of cows cooling themselves in the creek.

Cows enjoying the water along the shores of Back Creek

On this very still autumn day the waters of the creek presented lovely mirrored surfaces along the lush green banks

Mirrored reflections as we explored Back Creek

A belted kingfisher flitted from branch to branch but we still managed to snap a quick photo. Kingfishers seem to take great joy in tormenting photographers with their quickness.

Belted Kingfisher

After about a mile Back Creek starts to disappear into the marsh so we headed back out into the Chesapeake Bay. The expanse of the bay and low hanging clouds made for some beautiful photographic vistas.

Mysterious looking clouds at the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay
Paddling into the great wide open

Exiting Back Creek we turned north once again toward the entrance of Front Creek. We stopped on a sandy beach on the Bay to look at construction debris which appeared to have been deliberately piled along the shore to prevent or slow down erosion.

Construction debris along the shore line

Front Creek wasn’t as long, or as picturesque, as Back Creek, and after a quick exploration we exited back into the Bay and again paddled north along the Chesapeake Bay shore. The water on this day was quite calm allowing us a great opportunity to explore along the Chesapeake shoreline which on many days is too rough for our kayaks. A number of working fishing boats were busy hauling up crab pots and collecting their catch.

A working fishing boat hauling up crab pots

This stretch of shore features some beautiful waterfront homes. Eventually we sighted the dredging operation at Poplar Island. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is enlarging Poplar Island using materials dredged from the approach channels to Baltimore. The island is home to 175 species of birds and has become an important egg laying site for diamondback terrapins.

Dredging operation at Poplar Island

Returning south along the shore we re-entered Knapp’s Narrows crossing under the drawbridge to our boat ramp. A beautiful autumn paddle around the Chesapeake Bay.

Re-entering Knapp’s Narrows
Our GPS route for the day

Launch Site: Rt. 33 South from St. Michaels. Cross Knapps Narrows Bridge and immediately turn left into parking lot for
Phillips Wharf Environmental Center.  Launch ramp was to the left of building but very overgrown and underwater, however still usable. Several small stores and some excellent restaurants on Tilghman Island.

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