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Itinerary:

Cliff City and the Living Shorelines of Conquest Beach

Cliff City is another public landing that offers no shortage of options for paddlers of all experience levels and interests. Putting in at this site places paddlers directly onto the open waters of the lower Chester River. Here, the waters can be exposed to high winds. But those looking to avoid the Chester proper need not call it quits yet – Cliff City is a good staging area to explore Langford Creek, located 2 miles downstream from the landing.

Calmer days and an adventurous spirit might lend themselves to crossing the river and heading to Conquest Beach. This popular swimming area is located in the Conquest Preserve, a piece of land unique in its status as a living shoreline, and one of the first in the country to incorporate sea level rise into its design. As a living shoreline, Conquest Preserve uses natural materials (in this case, pebbles and small cobbles) instead of hard infrastructure to reduce erosion and habitat loss. As sea levels rise, the lightweight materials of the shoreline will naturally migrate inward, meaning no habitat will be lost to rising water. This design also increases marsh habitat in the short term. Paddlers up for crossing the Chester may also want to explore the Corsica River, located on the other side of Conquest Beach. But take caution; be aware of speedboat traffic in the Chester’s main channel, especially if you make the journey by canoe or kayak. 

Image Credit: Chris Cerino / Sultana Education Foundation

Things to Know

Paddlers can use Cliff City to access the open waters of the lower Chester River. On a calm day, paddlers can cross the river to explore Spaniard's Neck and Conquest Beach. To find slightly more protected paddling areas, try Langford Creek, two miles downriver from the landing, or the Corsica River, two miles downstream on the opposite side of the Chester.

Navigational Hazards

This launch site is located on the open waters of the lower Chester River and difficulty of the paddle is very weather-dependent. The area can be exposed to high winds, and those looking to cross the river to explore the other side should be particularly aware of this. Paddlers should also be aware of speedboat traffic if attempting to cross the river. 

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 Cliff City Road
Chestertown, MD 21620

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

Adequate paved parking for up to 15 vehicles, gravel, 1 ADA space, open 5 am - 10 pm

Restrooms

Seasonal portable toilets

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

This site features a concrete boat ramp for launching vessels, as well as a small sandy beach just downriver of the ramp.

There are no camping amenities at this site.

Trail History

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: Chris Cerino / Sultana Education Foundation