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Itinerary:

The Mills on Morgan Creek

Riley's Mill Public Landing, located on Morgan Creek, was named for the mills that once stood there in the 18th century. There were three in total: a saw mill for lumber, a grist mill for grain, and a fulling mill for clothmaking. The grist mill in particular helped Morgan Creek become a busy route for shipping agricultural products out to ports on the Chester River and beyond. The abundance of local wheat was ground into flour at Morgan Creek, packaged, and taken to ports in the colonies and even Europe.

You can trace the path of exported grain down Morgan’s Creek for 3.5 miles, which will take you to the Chester River. Beyond that it is another 2.5 miles downstream to Chestertown. The water on Morgan’s Creek is very protected, and excellent for windy days. Additionally, the creek offers beautiful scenery of forested shorelines, farms, and cattail marshes. Paddling Riley’s Mill at Morgan Creek is like experiencing the eastern shore’s agricultural commerce the way it used to be. 

Things to Know

Morgan Creek is a protected tributary that is an excellent paddling choice on a windy day. Heading up the creek, paddlers will enjoy scenery characterized by forested shorelines, farms, and marshes. After about 2 miles, the creek narrows and becomes non-navigable. Therefore, this route must be taken at high tide only.

In the opposite direction it is a 3.5 mile paddle to the mouth of the creek where it meets the Chester River. Beyond the mouth, a 2.5 mile paddle downriver will put paddlers in Chestertown. This route is far less protected and much more exposed to wind.

Navigational Hazards

The creek above the landing at Riley's Mill should be paddled at high tide due to its narrow and shallow nature. 

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 Rileys Mill 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

Ample, unmarked dirt parking for up to 12 vehicles, gravel, 5 am - 10 pm

Restrooms

No

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 landing has a gravel incline that is ideally suited for launching canoes and kayaks.  At high tide it is also possible to launch small (<14') john boats and skiffs.

There are no camping amenities at this landing.

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.

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. 

Weather

Main image: Chris Cerino/ Sultana Education Foundation