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Spring Cove: A Haven for Passing Ships

The launch at Spring Cove is a beautiful place to launch canoes and kayaks into a protected tributary directly off the wide Chester River. This is one of the best places from which to access both Swan Creek and its smaller counterpart, Tavern Creek. Both of these waterways offer protected paddling and a variety of views.

The area adjacent to Spring Cove known as The Haven was once a very important spot for 18th century ships coming to Rock Hall. At that time, Swan Creek and The Haven were the only protection for ships from winds coming from the west or southwest. Today this area is still a safe option for paddlers who are unwilling to brave the exposed and often windy waters of the open Chester River.

Things to Know

Spring Cove is a well-protected landing that is excellent for exploring Swan Creek and Tavern Creek without having to navigate the Chesapeake Bay proper. Swan Creek offers four miles to navigate, while Tavern Creek extends for just over two miles.

Spring Cove is a launch option for those wanting to explore the  confluence of the Chesapeake Bay and Chester River, but the waters here are much more open and exposed. 

Navigational Hazards

Spring Cove itself is very protected and offers few hazards in the way of weather and currents. However, be wary of boat traffic in Swan Creek, as this is a popular location for boaters during the summer. Hug the shoreline to avoid running into traffic and potential currents. Also, those who choose to leave the creek and explore the lower Chester River should be aware that this area is much more exposed on windy days. Use caution and attempt paddling into the Chester only on calm days. 

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:
21035 Spring Cove 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

limited, side of the road parking for up to 10 vehicles




  • 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 has both a cement ramp for larger boats, as well as a small sandy beach that acts as a soft launch for kayaks, canoes, and small boats.

There are no camping facilities. 

Trail History

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.

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. 


Main image: Chris Cerino / Sultana Education Foundation