Assateague Nat'l Seashore

-- Last Updated: May-27-13 9:55 PM EST --

Going in June - Wanted to know if anyone here has personally been, and what to expect the Bay to be like in windy conditions? I have paddled extensively in the BWCA and am used to windy conditions and white caps, but my girlfriend is not! Also we will have a 17' Grumman...

The bugs. Nevermind the Bay.
Hopefully, you are just doing day trips. Those familiar with the Assateague back country camp sites usually only went there once in the summer bug season. Subsequently, they wait for the notoriously viscous bugs to die off.

Chincoteague Bay and Sinepuxent Bay lay west of Assateague Island. The boat launch at Assateague National Seashore is called Ferry Landing and it is roughly on the edge of both bays. Sinepuxent lies to the north, starting at Ferry Landing and running about 8 miles north to Ocean City. Chincoteague Bay extends south from Ferry Landing down to Chincoteague Island, about 26 miles.

I’ve paddled Chincoteague Bay a few times a year for the last ten years. It is frequently windy. The northern half of Chincoteague Bay is mostly waist deep or shallower. Depending on the tide and more importantly the direction and force of the wind, it can get boat-dragging shallow. Because it is shallow, there is a theoretical limit to how big a wave you can get. Wind waves tend to be no more than 1 - 2 feet, but steep and high frequency. On the Chincoteague Island end, you find deeper water and bigger waves, but less steep and lower frequency. There really isn’t much current to deal with until you get into the passages at Chincoteague Island.

I’ve not paddled Sinepuxent Bay. It is much narrower than C. Bay: 0.5 to 2 miles for S. Bay whereas C. Bay is 5 or more miles wide. The northern part of S. Bay is the narrowist, and it is close to the Ocean City inlet, so my guess is there is more water moving through it on tidal exchanges, and that might keep the water a little deeper, giving potential for bigger waves. But it is narrow enough that you should be able to work a lee shore.

Hope that helps.


Thanks Chip- we decided to scrap the Back country idea until the fall. That being said, any ideas for neat places to see ie. inlets, coves, guts, ponds for or any other day trip destinations? Thanks again.


– Last Updated: Jun-05-13 2:11 PM EST –

I've launched several trips from a Chincoteauge town launch at the end of Deep Hole Road. You have to go to the town offices to get a parking permit. I wondered if there is some neat paddling in the Chincoteague Island area. Every time I launched there I headed immediately north to camp at Popes Bay, so I don't know what's available immediately around Chincoteague. I was disappointed to not find better info in places to paddle (Virginia), but one poster gave a reference to Va. Watertrails, which you should probably check out.

In the Maryland section of place to paddle, there are some trip descriptions that describe "great scenery." I love Assateague, but once you've seen one marsh backed by sand dunes and pine, you've pretty much seen what there is to see.

The big draw at Assateague is the ponies. You can usually find them around the roads of the park begging for or stealing food from tourists. But it is far more scenic to see them out on the marshes. I suggest a day trip from Ferry Landing south to Tingles Island, where there are usually horses hanging out. You might want to paddle back into one of the guts there, too, just for the experience. Everything else at Assateague is, while to a degree different, pretty much like what you will find on this short trip of about 3 miles.

I was hoping to find a TR on the stretch between OC and Ferry Landing, but didn't. I don't know that section, so, no info to share.

The Pocomoke River is a different kind of trip. Go to Snow Hill Maryland and have the Pocomoke Canoe Company shuttle you to Whiton's Crossing, or Porter's Crossing for a shorter trip. This trip is on a narrow river that has a moderate current. It flows through a cypress swamp--one of the northernmost in the US. The water is dark tea colored due to tannins from the cypress. The folks at PCC can give you more details. Ask about deadfalls. PCC removes many, but you can expect to have to get out of the boat to get around a few. Shad Landing State Park is a nice campground if you need one, just a bit downriver from Snow Hill.

Another interesting Pocomoke trip starts near Pocomoke City, Winter Quarters Park (just east of Rt 13). Put in on the Pocomoke and paddle upriver (it's tidal here, so don't count on the direction of water flow to define upriver--go away from Rt 13. On the other side of the river is a deceiving little passage into Dividing Creek. If you find it, it goes back for miles with lots of forest and wildlife. This is an out-and-back trip so if you time the tide right, you can ride current both ways. I saw the most bald eagles I've ever seen in a single day on Dividing Creek, but I don't think you will run into that many in the summer when eagles pair up and go to isolated nests.

The Pocomoke trips have less flies, tend to be wind protected, and are well shaded, so they make a nice break from the heat, wind and bugs of Assateague.

Good luck. Put a TR in places to paddle when you come back!


bug season
Because it is the one place my wife will paddle, and it is an hour from my house we go to Sinepuxent Bay most weekends. In the summer the bay side is really mosquito heaven.If you stay on the water you should be fine. Chip’s assessment is right on. I have never encountered waves bigger than 2 feet. The wind can be brutal at times, especially when it runs North or South. It comes up or down the bay without barriers. If you want to camp in the summer the ocean side is usually not to bad. We launch from Ferry Landing and never fail to see the ponies. We usually paddle around and stop for a picnic on Egging Island. There are some nice sandy beaches, and because it is mid bay the bugs are not bad. The tide is usually not to drastic, but some of the guts can get real shallow. One of the good things is it is rare to have any boat traffic any were in the national seashore side.

viscous or vicious?
either way, it’s an accurate description :slight_smile: