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Itinerary:

Bogle’s Wharf: A Paddle Fit for a Bird Enthusiast

One of the most unique launch sites on the Chester River Water Trail, Bogle’s Wharf is located on Eastern Neck Island National Wildlife Refuge. This landing provides an excellent opportunity to explore the 2,285-acre island by water. Eastern Neck Island is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is most notable for the important habitat it provides for the more than 240 species of birds that use it for migration. In fact, the refuge is also designated as an Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society. The habitat of the island also supports other life as well. Mammals and aquatic critters make use of the refuge’s brackish marshes, freshwater ponds, forests, and grasslands. Paddlers, meanwhile, will enjoy the views of loblolly pines that are so iconic to low-lying swamps like those on the eastern shore, as well as pristine marshlands.

Though Bogle’s Wharf is located on the exposed waters of the Chester River, other, more protected paddling options exist for beginners wishing to experience the area. Durdin Creek, Shipyard Creek, and Hail Creek lie to the south, while Church Creek and Calfpasture Cove are to the north. Looking for an even greater challenge? On calm weather days the island can be circumnavigated, but be prepared for a 9-mile paddle. 

Image Credit: Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program

Things to Know

Though Bogle's Wharf is located on an exposed part of the Chester River, one can find multiple options for more protected paddles very nearby. South of the landing, Durdin Creek, Shipyard Creek, and Hail Creek are scenic and worth exploring. North of the landing, Church Creek and Calfpasture Cove are good options for smaller tributaries to explore.

For the very adventurous paddler, Eastern. Neck Island can be circumnavigated. This is a nine-mile trip, and should only be attempted when the weather is calm. Paddlers who attempt this itinerary will be reward with views of the entire island, its marshes, and its wildlife. 

Navigational Hazards

Paddling near Eastern Neck means being exposed to the open waters, and often winds, of the lower Chester River. Southwest winds in particular will make it difficult; check the weather before heading out. Those looking specifically to circumnavigate the island will want to wait for a very calm weather day. The area also offers several protected creeks to explore for those who wish to avoid such an open area; beginners should stick to these routes. 

Water Safety

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.

Marine Forecast

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:

Emergency Information

Launch site address:
End of Bogles Wharf Road
Rock Hall, MD 21661

USFWS Law Enforcement:
443-477-1934

Nearest hospitals:
UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown
100 Brown St
Chestertown, MD 21620
(410) 778-3300

Chester River Hospital Center
6602 Church Hill Rd #300
Chestertown, MD 21620
(410) 778-3300

Parking & Shuttles

Plenty of marked, paved parking, 5 am - 10 pm

Restrooms

Seasonal portable toilet 

Equipment

  • ALWAYS wear a properly secured personal flotation device (PFD) when participating in paddlesport activities. Make sure that your PFD has a readily accessible safety whistle.
  • Bring a paddle float and water pump for self rescue.
  • A spray skirt is recommended for cold/foul weather.
  • Wear appropriate protective clothing that shields you from the sun (sunglasses, sunblock, hat, and a long-sleeved shirt that can get wet) and is safe to swim in. Water shoes with closed toes will protect you from abrasive hazards at launch areas that can cut your feet.
  • Bring water in bottles than can be secured to your craft. Bring more water than you think you’ll need and drink regularly throughout your journey.
     

Outfitters

Camping & Amenities

Bogle's Wharf is located on Eastern Neck Island as part of Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge. There is a cement ramp suitable for launching kayaks and canoes as well as larger boats. The island features several amenities, including a Visitor Center with restrooms, seven walking trails, and recreation opportunities including hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing.

There are no camping amenities on Eastern Neck Island. 

Trail History

Prior to the arrival of European settlers, American Indians inhabited the waters of the Chester River for over 10,000 years.  The river was teeming with fish, oysters, waterfowl, wild game, and edible wetland plants that provided all of the food needed to establish thriving communities.  Settlements were generally located at the heads of creeks or springs, with populations ranging from a few families to several hundred residents.  Ancient oyster middens, or trash piles, can still be seen eroding from the riverbanks where these American Indian settlements once stood.

The Chester River once contained some of the most prolific oystering grounds on the Chesapeake Bay, even attracting its own fleet of “oyster pirates” that regularly sailed under the cover of darkness to illegally dredge oysters reserved for hand-tonging.  While much of the Chester’s oyster population has been lost due to pollution, overharvesting, and disease, the middle portion of the river contains one of the last viable oyster bars on the upper Bay.  In late fall, watermen can still be seen anchored over this bar in front of Cliff City Landing using the ancient method of hand-tonging to capture the tasty bivalves.

Weather

Main image: Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program