The Mataponi Creek is a tributary to the Patuxent River. You can read about it in Hiking, Cycling and Canoeing in Maryland: A Family Guide, by Bryan MacKay. The closest place to put in is at Selby’s Landing on Croom Airport Road in Upper Marlboro, but you could start at Jackson Landing which is about 2 miles north via the river.
Our paddle started out at Selby’s Landing. There is plenty of parking and you can drive your car down to take your boats off and launch at either the boat ramp or the dock. We encountered several paddlers both at the put-in and along the river. You can read the directions to Selby’s Landing here.
I created this Google satellite map because the the road map, does not show the cut-through of the creek, but this map does.
Our crew was short one adult paddler. We had two canoes, one canoe had two adults and the other had one adult and two non-paddling kids. We had our usual arrangement of pool noodles, and super soaker squirt guns and a small inflatable ball. We took some aluminum foil for making boats at lunch.
The entrance to Mataponi Creek was easy to see. It is less than 1/2 mile from the put-in at Selby’s Landing which is on the Patuxent River. There are motorboats on the Patuxent River at this location and there is no sign that says “No Wake”, so the motorboats did not have to go slow in this location. That means that for the time we were on the Patuxent, we had to be concerned about the wake created by the power boats and waterskiiers. It was not bad, but it is good to know the low brace stroke.
The Patuxent River and Mataponi Creek are governed by tides. We looked on the tide chart and our paddle would include a low tide at 1:30 pm. I’m not really sure what that means but at low tide in August there was still plenty of water to paddle the Mataponi Creek with no difficulty.
The Mataponi Creek is an old creek and there are U-shaped bends in the creek. My friend Sarah and I paddled around the second U-shaped bed while Ron and the kids paddled the cut through, which I
labeled on the map. Our canoe (with two adults) arrived at the lunch spot, which is campsite 39 -White Oak Landing before Ron and the kids.
You can rent the campsite from the Prince Georges County Parks. While we were there having lunch, there were some other paddlers and before we left, a couple who had rented the site for the evening arrived, but graciously allowed us to continue lunching there. At Site 39, there is a landing site and then you go up a trail to the camping area. The campsite is a good 15 vertical feet above the landing area, so no need to fear rising tides will inundate the camping area. The kids played in the water, at the landing site. The water is not too clean, so avoid getting your face in the water.
After lunch, we paddled a little further into the creek, but not far enough to get to the bridge which is described in Bryan MacKay’s book. On the way back, both canoes paddled the cut-through. In the cut-through there is a Beaver’s Den. We didn’t get to see any beavers.
We saw water birds, I think Blue Herons flying by. There were several different water plants including swamp rose mallow (hibiscus), arrowroot and wild rice.
Mataponi Creek is pretty well known by the locals. You can rent a canoe at Jackson Landing and start there or you can rent one from Patuxent Riverkeeper and put it on your car and drive and put-in at Selby Landing. I had not realized that the Patuxent Riverkeeper rented canoes and camping gear until meeting the folks who were camping at Site 39.
This is a nice creek, I want to go further upstream next time to explore a little more. For apres paddle refreshment, there is a 7-11 at the intersection of Rt 301 and 382 (Croom Road) along with a Bojangles and a CVS for snacks. Our fellow paddlers preferred real ice cream to ice cream sandwiches at 7-11, so we actually traveled to Largo Town Centre for ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery, which is 20 miles from Selby Landing. I had never been there but $4.95 for a cup of ice cream is a little pricy for my tastes. I’m sticking with 7-11 as my preferred after paddle refreshment.