We paddled on a hot Sunday in June at Patuxent River State Park – Jug Bay Natural Area. We put in (and took out) at Jackson Landing. Jug Bay Natural Area This is the link which includes Jackson Landing. We paddled with another family, Ruth and Andrew (mom and dad) along with two of their kids, Liam (5) and Aiden (3).
There are many boat landings in Patuxent River State Park and it was a little confusing to tell which one might be a good one to do a little trip. I called the visitor center and explained we would have 2 five year olds and 2 canoes and wanted a good place to paddle for a short paddle with a beach to land for lunch. The information officer explained that there was a place to land (a landing), but there was no beach. And there were not many places to land. The types of places I have canoed, finding a landing place has not been a problem. Then I looked closely at the picture of Jug Bay and understood the problem with finding a landing because it is a marsh along the shore in most places. And the landing was not a beach, but a little place where the grass goes down to the water, but there was also a “landing”, which is a little dock where you can land on.
The Patuxent River is tidal in this location, so call and ask if that will be a problem for your intended route. This is a tide chart which includes the Patuxent, but I am not experienced with paddling tidal rivers, so I would just call the Visitors Center and ask if you have questions.
The visitor center is at 16000 Croom Airport Road, Upper Marlboro, MD. Jackson Landing is just a little down the road from there. I found them most helpful at the visitor center. They rent canoes and kayaks there. They also have lots of printed material and maps and for free, one map cost money but it was out of stock.
Our route took off at Jackson Landing, a little ways down the road from the visitor center. They suggested we paddle upstream (left from the landing). Our intended destination was about a 30 minute paddle (maybe less) to Mount Calvert Historical and Architectural Park. This is where the landing is and there is an historical house open to the public. We lunched under a tree near our boats. It was just beautiful. Then after our lunch we headed up the hill to the historical home. The view from the home is even more beautiful. There was a museum in the home, which we looked through for a bit, but there were two five year olds and a three year old that wanted to go down to the water, which had been promised earlier. The person at the visitor center suggested we might want to go on further upstream to the mouth of a creek. If we had more time, I would consider it, but we spent our additional time playing in the water. Well, the three kids in our group and 6 other kids were all playing in the water around the dock.
We had brought 2 balls and 7 noodles along in our boats. The noodles were used quite a bit in the boats and the balls were used to play with in the water at Mount Calvert Landing.
The return trip to Jackson Landing included some pirate play. While we were out we saw a Great Blue Heron, and other birds, which I could not identify. We saw a duck blind, not something I see very often and also what looked like the remains of an old bridge abutment, which is now just a 12 foot in diameter little island in the middle of the Patuxent River.
You can drive up your car to the boat landing. This is the type of landing that can accommodate trailered boats. So there is not very far to carry your boat to put it in. Always a plus. There is a restroom near the visitor center. There is no fee or permit needed to launch a boat carried on or in a car. If your boat is trailered, then there is a fee and a permit needed.
There is no shade on the river, so bring a hat, lots of sunscreen and lots of water.
As we were getting out to leave at Jackson Landing, I saw that “swimming is prohibited”. Well I am not encouraging swimming and I would not swim at the put in, as there are lots of fishermen at the dock as well as the proximity to the visitor center, but a little wading at Mount Calvert Landing is maybe a place where you can get a little wet, especially on a hot day. We were the first people to land at Mount Calvert Landing for lunch, but were soon joined by 2 more canoes and about 4 kayaks.
This is a beautiful place to paddle, I do miss having a little whitewater, but this was a perfect short trip, beautiful scenery, and nice stopping place for paddling with young children.