Eastern Shore Kayaking

Looking for Wood Ducks on Tuckahoe Creek

April 2019 featured a beautiful spring on DELMARVA featuring weather much nicer than in April 2018. In 2018 we first kayaked for the year on May 1st. This year’s warmth allowed us to get on the water for a short spin around the cypress swamp of Trap Pond State Park on April 18th. On April 23rd we ventured forth for a longer paddle on one of your favorite waterways: Tuckahoe Creek.

Blue skies and warmth greeted us at the boat ramp in Hillsboro, Maryland . With the leaves on the trees nearly fully out with some flowering varieties showing their color.

Tuckahoe Creek boat ramp at Hillsboro, Maryland

Tuckahoe Creek is notable for two attributes. The first, is four bridges you pass under paddling upstream. The second, is a bountiful supply of turtles that tend to be less skittish and shy than turtles at many other kayaking locations. Normally, we see numerous Tuckahoe Creek turtles sunning themselves on logs. This trip we saw few of those, but instead a number of turtles swimming close to the surface near our kayaks.

You encounter the first of the four Tuckahoe Creek bridges several hundred feet upstream. The lowest of the lot it requires a little bit of stooping at high tide. Nesting swallows under the bridge will let you know they are not happy with your passage.

The first bridge heading North

A short industrial section of Hillsboro is along the the creek just before the second bridge which is a very impressive old railroad trestle. When the creek water is still and reflective the trestle is especially beautiful.

The Old Railroad Trestle

The third bridge, is the newest one of the lot, which carries Route 404 over Tuckahoe Creek. There is a constant rumble of traffic as you float underneath the concrete structure. Again, dozens of swallows nest under the bridge and fly around with agitation as you approach. Their complex mud nests dot the underside of the bridge.

A truck passes over the Route 404 bridge

The fourth and final bridge is another relic from the railroad. Our big question on this trip was whether Kaci went to the prom with our resident artist. Does anyone know?

Does anyone know if Kaci went to the prom with our bridge artist?

North of the four bridges the creek slowly narrows and the current picks up speed making paddling more of a struggle. However, the water is quite shallow and clear. During our last trip here in 2017, we only paddled to waymark 154 on the map below due to a fallen tree. This year a kind soul cut the tree, and we paddled as far up as waymark 168 (about 1.8 miles from the boat ramp at waymark 84). Our furthest penetration upstream ever was to waymark 85. There are several kayaking guides which reference putting in at Tuckahoe State Park and kayaking downstream to Hillsboro. We believe the upstream portion of this creek is no longer being maintained for passable kayaking.

GPS Map of our paddle along Tuckahoe Creek

Paddling upstream deeper into the woods the water reflected the green leaves of the trees and took on the look of a green wonderland.

Green wonderland heading north on Tuckahoe Creek

Once we started returning downstream we watched carefully for wood ducks as numerous Wood Duck houses are installed along the creek. Several female wood ducks flew in the distance and we heard their excited calls. At one Wood Duck house a female wood duck exited the house as we passed. Unfortunately, spotting any of the beautiful male wood ducks proved impossible.

One of many wood duck bird houses

There is a picnic table at the boat ramp and we stopped for a lunch break before relaunching to explore downstream. Paddling downstream the banks are lined with hardwoods, including a large tree covered in the purple flowers of wisteria vines

Purple wisteria flowers blanketing a large tree

We also saw abundant signs of creek bed erosion with several large trees obviously recently collapsing into the water. Thankfully, due to the wide creek bed these trees did not interfere with our paddling.

Less than a mile downstream from the launch ramp Tuckahoe Creek widens and becomes marshy. On one marsh island several Canadian geese couples were nesting. The noisy ganders attempted to lure us away from their nests with loud calls as we neared. Osprey and bald eagles flew overhead obviously hunting fish.

This turned into a nice start to the 2019 kayaking season, and a beautiful day to be on the water.

Directions: From the intersection of MD Rt. 404 & Rt. 309 in Queen Anne, MD (there’s a Royal Farm on this corner). Take Rt. 303 into Queen Anne and turn left on Main St. (old 404). Follow this over the small bridge and boat launch is on your right.

Services: No port a john at boat launch however Royal Farms within one mile. Restaurants etc. in Denton.

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2 replies »

  1. Wonderful shots! I’m off the Choptank River, and I LOVE Tuckahoe Creek, but sure can’t get as far up it in our small bowrider as you can with your kayaks! The creek is so beautiful and full of wildlife. 🙂

    Like

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