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Paddlers should be cautious when launching from this site due to its location on the open waters of the Chester River. It is a short half-mile paddle north to the mouth of Swan Creek, and three-quarters of a mile to the mouth of Tavern Creek, both of which are much more protected and well worth exploring. Heading south, it is a 6.5 mile paddle to Eastern Neck Narrows. For a shorter trip, there is also the option of paddling south for less than one mile to visit Rock Hall Harbor, along with its marinas and restaurants.
This beach access site puts paddlers directly into the open waters of the Chester River. Paddlers are advised to use this launch site only on non-windy days, as conditions can be quite rough. There are several easily-accessible creeks nearby for getting out of the exposed river.
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 National Park Service, Chesapeake Conservancy 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. Learn more about water safety.
We STRONGLY suggested that you review the marine forecast ahead of heading out for a paddling trip. To review the forecast for this paddle trip, visit:
Launch site address:
5736 Beach Rd
Rock Hall, MD 21661
UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown
100 Brown St
Chestertown, MD 21620
Chester River Hospital Center
6602 Church Hill Rd #300
Chestertown, MD 21620
Plenty of paved, marked parking for 20+ vehicles
Seasonal portable toilets
Rock Hall Beach, or Ferry Park, has a sandy beach that is excellent for launching kayaks or canoes. There are plenty of amenities, including picnic tables, pavilions, a gazebo, barbecue stands, and of course the swimming beach that overlooks the Chesapeake Bay.
There are no camping or overnight amenities available at this site.
During his exploration of the Chesapeake Bay in August 1608, Captain John Smith visited an American Indian community at the mouth of the Chester River which he referred to as “Ozinies.” This site was most likely located in the vicinity of present-day Rock Hall. Smith did not travel up the Chester River’s main stem, in part because the river offered little promise of providing the elusive “Northwest Passage” to the riches of the Orient. However, Smith did chart the river’s mouth, Kent Island, and the forested interior of what would become Kent and Queen Anne’s counties.
Before the Civil War, the farmlands of Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties began to be known for their bounty of corn, wheat, and fruit. The introduction of the railroads to these areas opened them up for shipping to other counties in Maryland and beyond, which bolstered the economy of these places greatly. This growth was also accelerated by technological improvements in farm machinery. Shipbuilders in the 18th century enhanced trade by building small boats for local transportation, in addition to larger-masted vessels for trade internationally. Eventually the great steamboats of the early 20th century allowed for increased trade and tourism, bringing products and people to and from the eastern shore. Though the eastern shore is largely characterized by wide open spaces and vast farmlands, advancements and innovations in transportation have allowed for the spread of products, a boost to the economy, and the movement of people to these less-habited shores.
Rock Hall’s location at the mouth of the Chester River made it an important ferry landing for colonists traveling north and south in the 18th century, including George Washington. Today, Rock Hall is a haven for working watermen and a busy hub for recreational boating, with several marinas and three public landings within the harbor. The town is also known for its numerous festivals including Waterman’s Day, 4th of July Weekend, Fall Fest, and Pirates and Wenches Fantasy Weekend.