Choptank & Tuckahoe Rivers Water Trail
Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network

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Brief Description: The Choptank River is the longest of the rivers on the Chesapeake Bay's Eastern Shore. Paddling or boating along the Choptank and its primary tributary, the Tuckahoe River, is a wonderful way to explore this classic Chesapeake landscape where steamboats, sail craft, and dugout canoes once plied the rivers. Captain John Smith did not explore these rivers (the present-day James Islands, then connected to the mainland, obstructed his view of the wide mouth of the Choptank). His map noted the area as wooded interior, but he did not note the area's habitation by the Transquaking, Ababco, and Hatsawap groups. His description was apt, as the Choptank Valley area was heavily forested by oaks, hickories, and chestnuts. A mature forest can still be seen today at the Adkins Arboretum near Tuckahoe State Park. The Choptank & Tuckahoe Rivers Water Trail encompasses 80 miles along the two rivers, linking multiple public access points and many natural and historic areas, The Water Trail allows visitors to experience the rich heritage of the Choptank and Tuckahoe rivers in canoes, kayaks ,and small powerboats.

Please note that boating, canoeing, kayaking and other activities on rivers can be dangerous. Obtain a water trail map and guide in advance, plan your trip, and follow all safety precautions. See the rest of this site for more details.

Location / Directions:

The water trail can be accessed from 16 public landings along the rivers including the Joppa Steamboat Wharf at the Wharves at Choptank Crossing in West Denton, MD. Informational maps are available at the visitor center.

To reach the center in West Denton:

  • Take Maryland Route 404 from either US Route 13 (from the east) or US Route 50 (from the west).
  • Continue on 404 (until just east of the Route 404 Bypass Bridge over the Choptank River) and take MD Route 328 (at the traffic signal) south (towards Easton).
  • Then make the first left onto River Landing Road (West Denton sign). River Landing Road is a loop road off Route 328 that runs along the Choptank River. Follow River Landing Road for approx. one mile to the center on the riverfront, just downriver of the Route 404 Business Bridge over the Choptank (you will drive under this bridge).
  • The center (along with the Joppa Wharf Shipway access point) is located in an historic steamboat terminal on the river along with several Chesapeake Bay Skipjacks.
Mailing Address: Choptank & Tuckahoe Rivers Water Trail
Carl W. Scheffel, Jr. Executive Director
Old Harford Town Maritime Center
10215 River Land Road
West Denton, MD 21629
Phone: (410) 479-4950

Paddle a canoe or kayak, explore with a small skiff or sail along the Choptank and Tuckahoe to view wildlife, see historic sites dating to the 17th century, go fishing, or just relax.

Be sure to consult a water trail guide, detailed maps and local conditions prior to any river trip! Follow all safety precautions.

Birding and Wildlife Viewing Boat Access Camping Fishing Canoeing / Kayaking

Operating Hours: May- September -Fridays & Saturdays 11 AM - 3PM, other times by appointment. Landings (launch and take out sites) are typically open for daylight hours, spring through fall.
Fees: There are no fees for accessing public landing sites in Caroline County. There are permit fees for using the Talbot County public landings ($10/year).
Visitor Facilities:

There are 16 existing public landings along the route. Most landings provide parking and direct access to the rivers. Some, but not all, accommodate trailer parking. Restrooms are not available at all landings or along the river; plan to use facilities or services in local communities or carry appropriate sanitary containers (Please utilize "Leave No Trace" etiquette when on the rivers).

Camping is available at several public and private campgrounds in Caroline County including cabins and a public landing at Martinak State Park. Services and accommodations are available in communities throughout the watersheds. Obtain a copy of the Choptank & Tuckahoe Rivers Water Trail "River Guide" or call for details including trip planning tools to assist with locating camping, B&B;'s, restaurants, outfitters and other services or facilities.

Length: 80 miles / 129 kilometers
Trail Map & Guide:

The following water trail information is available:

  • Choptank & Tuckahoe Rivers Water Trail "River Guide" - A web based guide to the water trail with maps, trip planning information, photos and river use guidelines.
  • Choptank & Tuckahoe Rivers Water Trail interpretive map - A printed interpretive map of features along the water trail. The map may be obtained at the Joppa Wharf visitor center in West Denton.

Safety Info: Remember: safe use of rivers and any designated trails, at any time, is your responsibility! Water trail maps are for informational and interpretive purposes only and are not meant for navigational purposes, nor do they take into account level of skills or ability required to navigate rivers. The Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, the National Park Service and/or the individual trail associations assume no responsibility or liability for any injury or loss resulting directly or indirectly from the use of water trails, maps or other printed or web-based materials. [View a list of water safety tips]
River Classification: Class I. Read more about the different levels of River Classifications.

Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network - Comments or Questions: Call: 1-800-YOUR-BAY