Joe Wright of Stafford, Virginia, fishes off the end of the Port Royal Landing in Caroline County, Virginia, on May 9, 2016. Wright said he only fishes for an hour at a time—just long enough to finish a cigar. The new pier also features a soft launch for paddlers and was funded by grants from the National Park Service, Friends of the Rappahannock, the Chesapeake Conservancy and other organizations. (Image by Will Parson)

With spring underway, people across the region are heading out on the water to fish, swim, boat and more. In 2015, 22 public access sites were opened in the Chesapeake Bay region, bringing the total number of boat ramps, fishing piers and other access sites to 1,247. Below, take a closer look at four of these new sites that are putting people in touch with the rivers, streams and open spaces that surround the Chesapeake Bay.

1. Port Royal Landing in Port Royal, Virginia

Nestled along the Rappahannock River, Port Royal is located in Caroline County, Virginia.
The small historic town borders the Port Royal Unit of the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge, where a 1.4-mile wildlife trail and two viewing platforms allow for visitors to hike and observe the river and surrounding land. In 2015, the Town of Port Royal worked with Friends of the Rappahannock to open a new fishing pier and soft launch, with a living shoreline installed alongside.

In the future, Friends of the Rappahannock and the Town of Port Royal will be working with the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge to establish a water trail that will provide access to the Styer Bishop, Port Royal and Toby’s Point areas of the refuge.

Hans Hanson of Harbor Dredge and Dock puts the finishing touches on an accessible kayak and canoe launch at the end of a newly constructed boardwalk on Accokeek Creek at Crow's Nest Natural Area Preserve in Stafford County, Virginia, on Nov. 18, 2014. Crow's Nest features 2,872 acres on a high, narrow peninsula rising above the Potomac and Accokeek Creeks.

2. Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve in Stafford, Virginia

For the nearly seven years since the creation of Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve in Stafford County, Virginia, access to the land has been limited. Open houses and small events allowed some visitors to explore part of the nearly 3,000 acres of hardwood forest and wetlands, but an unfinished road prohibited access to the majority of the preserve. Good news came in April 2015, however, when an accessible canoe and kayak launch site was opened at the preserve’s Brooke Road access point, along with a shoreline nature trail along Accokeek Creek.

Further access to the preserve should come soon: plans are underway to improve the 1.6-mile access road from Raven Road, so visitors can reach hiking trails and interpretive exhibits on the history of Crow’s Nest.

Beachwood Park on the Magothy River in Pasadena, Maryland, on Feb. 29, 2016.

3. Beachwood Park in Pasadena, Maryland

Just south of Magothy Bridge Road in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, lies a 100-acre park that for years was underutilized by nearby residents. Purchased by Anne Arundel County in 2002, a lack of funding left the property—which runs alongside the Magothy River—mostly untouched. But in recent years, the county and the Magothy River Association began cleaning up the park: picking up trash, opening a path through the woods to the riverbank, building a small nature trail and adding new park signs. Fishing, canoeing and kayaking access already existed in the park, but in 2015 a designated soft launch area gave visitors additional access to the waterway.

Outdoor retail organization REI offers free kayak rides to attendees of the Kingman Island Bluegrass and Folk Festival in Washington, D.C., on April 30, 2016. Kingman Island is part of the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail, and in 2015 the site gained a dock for canoe and kayak public access to the Anacostia River.

4. Kingman Island in Washington, D.C.

Walking along the crowded, developed streets of Washington, D.C., it might be surprising to think that just nearby, among the waters of the Anacostia River, is a lush, 45-acre oasis: Kingman Island. This manmade island is home to the annual Kingman Island Bluegrass and Folk Festival—but aside from special events, the park remains one of the last “wild” spaces in the capital city. In October 2015, the Anacostia Watershed Society, National Park Service and District Department of Energy and Environment worked to open a new floating dock where visitors can launch canoes and kayaks, offering access to a portion of the Anacostia that’s restricted to motorized boats.


Do you have a favorite place where you boat, swim or fish? Let us know in the comments! And be sure to explore both new and existing public access sites to enjoy all the Chesapeake Bay has to offer.

Images by Will Parson

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Chesapeake Program

You can find a map of public access sites here: https://www.chesapeakebay.net/action/visit. There appear to be several public access sites along the Rappahannock near the Bay. Some that I found with public boat access include Upper Mill Creek Landing, the Urbanna Town Marina and Greenvale Creek Landing.

Rodney Bass

where is the nearest public boat access on the Pappahannock river to the chesapeake Bay (salt water)

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