Description: Nick's Fish House, near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge in Hanover Street, provides easy access to Fort McHenry and Baltimore's harbor. Though the water is busy with boat traffic, paddling in the harbor offers a great view of downtown.
Chuck McMillin warns to "stay away from the harbor during the heat of summer — the water quality isn't good."
Why paddlers like it: Nick's is convenient and a fun place for kayakers to hang out after a paddle. Plus, according to Nelson, "Baltimore harbor is really interesting from the water."
Similar paddles: Southwest Area Park and Canton Waterfront Park are also easy launches for harbor paddles
Location: Straddles the Howard and Montgomery line on the Patuxent River
Where to park: Parking and boat launching are available at several locations, including on Greenbridge Road.
Description: Created by damming the Patuxent River in the 1940s, the reservoir spans about five miles of the river. Gasoline-powered boats are not permitted in the reservoir, limiting boat traffic, and the water, surrounded by wooded areas, is often fairly calm.
Note: Kayakers need a permit to paddle the reservoir.
Why paddlers like it: According to McMillin, Triadelphia is easily accessible, convenient for anyone south of the city and "absolutely gorgeous."
Similar paddles: Jug Bay, Selby's Landing and Jackson's Landing are also popular Patuxent River paddles
Location: Annapolis harbor, the Chesapeake Bay, Spa Creek and Back Creek in Annapolis
Where to park: Kayakers can park and launch boats, for a small fee, from the boat ramps in Truxtun Park between Hilltop Lane and Primrose Road in Annapolis
Description: From the park, kayakers can paddle from Spa Creek to Annapolis harbor, to Back Creek or out into the Chesapeake Bay. The creeks are largely residential, with moderate to heavy boat traffic. The views range from city buildings in Annapolis to waterfront homes and less developed areas on the creeks.
Why paddlers like it: According to Gitomer, "The bay can be challenging and the weather can change quickly, but Spa Creek is protected. You can paddle down Ego Alley in Annapolis, to Davis' Pub in Eastport, or back into Spa Creek to see some wildlife."
Kayaking is fun, but even for experienced paddlers it can be a dangerous sport. Some advice before heading to the water:
Get instruction. There are numerous kayaking instructors and schools in the Baltimore region and many books available on the subject. The more instruction and knowledge you have, the better off you'll be when you get in the water.
Take care of your gear. Life jackets are mandatory for kayakers and helmets are recommended. Other important gear includes: float bags, rescue rope and knife, a whistle or signaling device and a first aid kit.
Know your boat and your limits. Tougher paddles, with faster, deeper water, are not appropriate for smaller boats and less experienced paddlers. ACA instructor Rich Kulaweic warns that experts make tough paddles look easy, but "it's much safer to build skills gradually." He adds, "It's way more fun than getting thrashed."
Water levels can change. Storms can transform usually slow creeks into rough paddles. Check water levels and weather before heading out.
Dress the part. Kulaweic notes that hypothermia contributes to many accidents and even on hot days, temperatures can drop quickly. He recommends layering to avoid unexpected chills.