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Skinners Neck and the Shipbuilders of the Eastern Shore

Skinners Neck puts paddlers on the water very near the confluence of Herringtown Creek and Grays Inn Creek. About two miles downstream from the landing, paddlers will reach the mouth of Grays Inn Creek. Here, in the 18th century, the creek was the home of the Spencer Hall Shipyard. This was one of at least four major shipyards on Maryland’s eastern shore. Such shipyards started out producing small craft for local trade, but went on to develop single-masted sloops and two-masted schooners for trade in New England and the Caribbean. Such vessels were fast and easily maneuverable, which came in handy for outrunning and evading pirates. The eastern shore also eventually began producing even larger ships for the tobacco trade, many of which would be sold to British firms after crossing to England. Such shipyards not only created employment opportunities for shipwrights and blacksmiths, but also served to connect communities on the Bay’s eastern shore to towns on the western shore, other colonies, and even other countries.

Paddlers putting in at Skinners Neck may choose to visit the area where one of these economically-important shipyards once stood at the mouth of Grays Inn. Another good option is to travel upstream for about two miles to the head of navigation of Grays Inn Creek. This route leads paddlers past residential development and through marshland.

Things to Know

This landing is located equidistant from the head of Grays Inn Creek and the mouth of Grays Inn Creek, just about two miles from each. Heading upstream is a more protected paddle, while the opposite direction will lead to the open waters of the lower Chester.

Navigational Hazards

This landing is well-protected and features only moderate tidal currents. Those who venture to the lower Chester River a few miles downstream will be more exposed to wind and the tides. Novice paddlers should stay in the creek, and only intermediate should attempt to enter the lower Chester 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 Skinners Neck Road
Rock Hall, MD 21661

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

Dirt parking lot for approximately 20+ vehicles, gravel, 5 am - 10 pm


Seasonal portable toilet 


  • 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.


Camping & Amenities

This landing features a soft launch as well as a concrete ramp. There are two piers for loading and unloading only.

There are no camping facilities on site.

Trail History

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. 


Main image: Chris Cerino / Sultana Education Foundation