If your spring plans involve finding new places to kayak along the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers, the Magothy River Association has some suggestions. They have a new map highlighting 30 points of interest, and 8 “hidden gems” along the water. To find them, they’ll hand you a copy of their new water trail map. Then, they’ll suggest you find a computer or smart phone.
That’s because the Magothy River Association has taken a unique approach to creating their map, released in honor of the group’s 70th anniversary with funding from the Chesapeake Bay Trust. The printed map is artsy, with a hand-touched feel, but it’s paired with a series of short YouTube videos that use drone technology to provide a fast and effective aerial view of the routes you want to travel.
Andrea Germain, a board member who worked on the project, said that the videos were designed to be useful while on the water, via mobile phones. “All the videos are just one to two minutes long,” Germain said. “You can pull them up on your phone for a quick view of the river. They also show obstacles, which we can’t do as well on the map.”
The 12-mile river is a popular with boaters in the Annapolis area. The river and its creeks have approximately 67 miles of shoreline, with protected areas and marshes ideal for paddling. The Magothy River Association recently worked with the county to open public car-top boat launches at Spriggs Farm Park and Beachwood Park. “The Magothy is a lovely river but there are very few access points unless you live in a waterfront community with your own water access,” Germain said.
Executive Director Paul Spadaro wants more people to enjoy the river, so that more people will want to protect it. He’s especially excited to introduce “hidden gems” on the water trail, most of which are accessible only by kayak, a very small boat or stand-up paddle board.
“Sometimes you wouldn’t know there is any entrance to the hidden place until you are right on top of it,” Spadaro said. “You physically have to be right in the water and you may see nothing but reeds until you turn just a little, and there’s an opening.”
A secluded pond-like area behind an island on Broad Creek is virtually invisible to passers-by. “You paddle through the reeds over a very clean sandbar,” Spadaro said. “The water is so clear, you can see deer and raccoon tracks in the sand under the water. Then you come into an area with all natural shoreline and lots of underwater grasses.”
The group has 1,000 paper copies of the map available free to the public while a digital version is prepared for their website. Copies are available at local riverside restaurants, and will soon be available at Spriggs Farm Park and Beachwood Park. For now, the best way to get your copy is to contact the Magothy River Association directly through an email form at magothyriver.org/contact-us.
Sixteen videos correspond with sites on the map. Some are linked to additional videos about the river’s history, and more will be added over time. Visit YouTube.com and search for “MRA water trail.” Start with the introductory video for a good orientation, then enjoy an aerial trip through places like Broad Creek, Eagle Cove and Cooleys Pond, so you are ready to paddle come spring.