This area is a prime location for scenic kayaking adventures. The refuge offers a vast array of wildlife that can be witnessed along all the water trails. Despite the feeling of remoteness and solitude you'll get when touring the trails, the refuge is located only 15 minutes outside of Cambridge, Maryland.

The Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is a perfect place to get away for a day. It offers more than 28,000 acres of marsh, forrest, and croplands which are teeming with wildlife. 

The refuge has a visitors center which is a good place to start the adventure and acquire knowledge of the area, the wildlife, and obtain a map of the local water trails and the two kayak, canoe, or SUP put-ins for the park. The visitor center is where the restrooms are located, however, there may be temporary restrooms located at the boat ramps.

The refuge offers three marked water trails to explore the area. The first is the Green Trail which is the best for beginners. Its a 8 mile round trip, that will take approximately 2.5-4 hours to complete. The put-in for this trail is a small boat launch located on Route 335. This trail is very scenic and goes through active waterfowl hunting areas during the fall and winter, call the refuge before you arrive to check the dates for hunting. 

The Orange Trail is a 7.6 miles round trip, that will take approximately 2.5-3.75 hours to complete. the put-in for this trail is the Shorters Wharf public boat ramp.

The Purple Trail is the most difficult. Its a 9 mile one way trip, that will take about 3-4.5 hours to complete. This trail transits through the widest open water at the refuge where heavy winds can make for a difficult transit. Be prepared equipment wise and physically if you intend to make this transit. The put-in for this trail is also at the Shorters Wharf public boat ramp. This trail is closed to paddlers October 1st through March 31st so as not to disturb the migratory waterfowl.

Lastly, the entire refuge is open to explore via water. There are many secluded islands and areas you can get to via a kayak, canoe, or SUP that offer surprising amounts of birds and other wildlife hanging out there.  

Pack List

  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Sunscreen
  • Map
  • Cellphone
  • Camera
  • Waterproof bag or container
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Activities Stand Up Paddle, Canoeing, Chillin, Fishing, Photography, Kayaking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Features
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Groups
Handicap Accessible
Picnic Area
River
Romantic
Scenic
Wildlife

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HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Wildlife Abounds, Stunning scenery, calm waters

You can rent kayaks and bikes to explore or take a guided tour of the refuge with www.blackwateradventuresmd.com The Blackwater National Wildife Refuge is a must see. Just a short drive from D.C, Baltimore, Philadelphia makes this a great day or weekend trip. Harriet Tubman was born right up the road so save time to visit the new Harriet Tubman Visitors Center and state park which is just 3 minutes from the Refuge. The town of Cambridge just 15 minutes north offers excellent restaurants, a well known brewery, and great shopping.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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