Otter Point nearby but a world apart

Canoe trips give visitors up-close look at tidal marsh

Outside: sports, activities, events

April 15, 2004|By Sarah Schaffer | Sarah Schaffer,SUN STAFF

It's only a short drive from Baltimore, but when you pay a visit to the nearby banks of Otter Point Creek, the city's streets -- and maybe even civilization -- will feel as if they're miles away.

Take to the fresh water in a canoe, and you'll be at one with the seemingly untouched area, where beaver, bald eagles, osprey and great blue herons live.

"There's this really neat oasis within the developed world we live in," said Heather Helm, who manages Harford County's Leight Park, which surrounds and protects the waterway.

"You go out and all of the sudden you're in this weird little marsh, with vines and cool plants. [There are] birds going by and fish jumping."

Nature lovers ages 8 and older can experience the "surreal world" Helm described by taking part in the park's guided canoeing excursions from March through November out of the Anita C. Leight Estuary Center.

Each tour provides visitors with a chance to get an up-close look at the tidal marsh's ecosystem.

And since the naturalist-led journeys are confined to calm waters, beginner canoeists can enjoy an easy and relaxing trip -- without worrying about getting lost or swept away.

"It's kind of refreshing to the spirit," said Helm.

The Anita C. Leight Estuary Center is at 700 Otter Point Road, Abingdon. Visitor hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and noon-5 p.m. Sundays. For trip schedules, reservations or for more information, call 410-612-1688 or visit www.otterpointcreek.org.

In the next few weeks, the staff of the Anita C. Leight Estuary Center will offer the following canoe trips. Life vests, canoes, paddles and a few basic instructions are provided with each course. Trip space is limited to eight canoes, and advance reservations are required.

Tomorrow: Evening Canoe Excursion

From 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., enjoy a guided trip around the creek and marsh. (Note: Space for this event is extremely limited.)

The cost of this activity is $8 per person. Ages 8 and older.

Participants should meet at the Bosely Conservancy.

April 30: Animal Watching

Explore Otter Point Creek with a guide as you look for signs of beaver and other marsh creatures.

This trip will run from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. The cost is $8 per person. Ages 8 and older.

Participants should meet at the Bosely Conservancy.

May 4: Canoeing By Dark

Paddle flat waters in moonlight during this canoe trip, which will take place from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

The cost is $8 per person. Ages 10 and older.

Participants should meet at the estuary center.

If your preferred trip is full, make sure to check out the estuary center's late-spring and summer events schedule at www.otterpointcreek.org.

On your own

If a self-guided excursion is more your style, check out Elk Neck State Park in Cecil County.

Elk Neck State Park

4395 Turkey Point Road, North East.

Cruise the Elk River on a rented canoe or small motorboat -- both are available at the park's Rogues' Harbor Boat Area.

After you've tested your paddling skills, take a walk on one of the park trails or explore the bay and river views from the grounds of Turkey Point Lighthouse.

Park admission is $3 per state resident on weekends and holidays and $3 per vehicle weekdays (April through October). Admission is $1 more for out-of-state visitors. Call 410-287-5333 or visit www.dnr.state.md.us.

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