James Island, Chesapeake Bay

I think I would like to visit James Island in the Chesapeake before it completely disappears, I think it’s still privately owned though… does anyone know if permission is required to visit or camp there? how are the bugs there, what would be a good time of year?

I have a vague recollection of reading someone’s trip report… maybe it was Chip?? it’s not here on P-Net

Janes Island
I paddle there frequently and its one of my favorites. Its not private, and is in fact a State Park. There are nice free kayak-specific launching facilities at the park, as well as full-facility camping. There is also primitive camping on the island(s), but I’m pretty sure a permit is required, available at the park office.

There are a number of marked water trails through the salt marshes that provide protected paddling, or you can go out into the bay (Tangier Sound) for open water fun. What is really nice about paddling Janes Island are all the white sand beaches, and the fact that there’s not much boat traffic.

As with almost anywhere on the Eastern Shore this time of year, the bugs are ferocious. Most bug repellants handle the mosquitos OK, but the biting green flies are another issue. Another incentive to stay out on the water as long as possible.

Regards, Mike

Good memory

– Last Updated: Jun-24-10 7:58 PM EST –

Yes, James Island will disappear inside a lifetime if left to nature. And it was me who posted a TR or two, and in fact, currently have a to-do item to call the owner about camping there, probably this August.

True, it is privately owned. The owner is trying to encourage the COE to fortify it and use it for dredge spoils, like Hart-Miller Island. I suppose if that happens, it won't be a privately owned island. But what good is owning an island that is being overcome by the bay? The COE project is a big if.

It is a frequent drop-by point for area power boaters. They come and spend a few hours on the beach.

I have spoken to at least one guy who paddles in this area and mentioned he had camped there without permission. Nobody has ever questioned my group when we were there, so I'd say the risk of being busted for commando camping there is slim. Best beach is on the east side of the middle remnant. The north and south remnants have no inviting landing spots, I have not landed on them, and don't know if there'd be tent space or not. I need to look into a hammock tent for spots like that.

Bugs are not bad on the open beach unless the wind dies and it is dusk.

Send me your email if you want to be included on a trip with landowner permission.


definitely interested, although depends on dates as I will be out of town for part of August. I was thinking maybe mid-Fall would be a good time of year, maybe less boater traffic then too. Who do you ask permission? Or does the owner not mind responsible LNT campers just dropping by – I know how some of those powerboaters can be though.

Do you put in at TIFC, or where?

I’m confused. Is the State Park somehow separate from the island itself? I have never heard that its privately owned.

different place
Janes, as you know, is near Crisfield. James is in the mouth of the Little Choptank River. I agree with your assessment of Janes. Nice place, wicked fly population. James does not have the huge expanse of marshy area. It must be the marshes that breed the huge fly population at Janes, because they are not prevelant at James, where the mosquito is the main pest. Oh, and there is a racoon, too.


Trespassing on James Island

– Last Updated: Jun-25-10 8:38 AM EST –

In general, I try to avoid trespassing, though I have commando camped a few times because it was the best among other alternatives. I had met the guy who gives permission for James Island prior to encountering him racing a canoe at the Wye Island Regatta. We shared a beer after the reggatta and after I had dragged him and his canoe to shore after a capsize. Sometime during the beer he volunteered that if I like to paddle-camp, he had this island I might want to visit.

I'm not sure the guy I know is sole owner. I get the impression there is some sort of "sportsman's" or family group involved. He must know that other people use the island without permission, and I don't think it upsets him too much, or else he'd be a nut-job. I'm not giving out the guy's data nor asking on behalf of others because it doesn't feel right to me. I already feel sort of bad because I only talk to the guy once a year to ask permission and it's been many years since the encounter at the Regatta. That's the story on that.

Launches to use are the marina next to the bridge onto Taylors Island (5 mi) or TI Family Campground (a uniquely Maryland experience, and 2 mi). I have map-scoped launches on the western shore, about 9 miles as the crow flys, but have yet to make that crossing. A non-trespassing alternative is to camp at TIFC and day paddle the island remnants.

observe the water depths …

– Last Updated: Jun-25-10 2:23 PM EST –

...... along the shore of Taylors up to and around the the James Islands , it is shallow . Power boaters in the area are aware of this and either stay way out or will move slowly with caution there . The work boats may make passage quicker .


Thanks for the clarification, and appologies to sapien for the misinformation. I didn’t even know there was a “James” Island on the Eastern Shore. I’ll look it up and give it a try.

Regards, Mike