Mallows Bay

I saw an interesting PBS show on the Chesapeake. Of particular interest to me was the part on Mallows Bay and its history as a ship graveyard. It looks like a fascinating paddle.

Has anyone paddled there? If so, can you give a quick trip report, e.g. launch sites, time needed to really explore it. Maybe some other nearby paddling opportunities or other activities such as hiking or biking.

I hope to visit soon
I have not been there yet but below is a link to info on water trails for Charles Co, MD. Item #2 on the second page has some information about Mallows Bay and the facilities available there.

Interesting place

If you want some company, post at - there are usually a few trips organized to see the shipwrecks there. It is a shallow bay with a small boat ramp at the park. The place is not huge, so it could be a quick trip. You can see many of the wrecks from shore too.

Updated access info
This link looks to describe an updated access point that isn’t as far away as described on the Water Trail brochure.

Looks like I’m going to have to put this on the list. From the info, it looks like a few day trips could be done making the drive worthwhile.

I did not notice you plan to travel here
A hike to Great Falls is a good thing to do. You could of course just park at the falls and walk over in 10 minutes, or you could make it a fairly strenuous hike if you go on the Billy Goat trail a bit below the falls on the Maryland side. The views of the falls are arguably better from the observation decks on the Virginia side, but the hike is better on the Maryland side.

You can also park at Fletcher’s Cove and rent a bike or a canoe or a row boat or a kayak for a paddle either up on the C&O Canal along the Potomac River or paddle on the river. Paddling up from Fletcher’s takes you to below Little Falls. If you are into easy whitewater, you can paddle areas below Great Falls: either paddle upriver through Mather Gorge all the way to the falls from say Angler’s Inn put in (with no or possibly some very short portages, depending on your boat and skills). Or go up the canal then float down the river via Mather Gorge. Or paddle down from Angler’s to say Lock 10 - a very nice and quiet area with class I-II water in low levels, could be class 3 or more at higher levels.

You could put in at Columbia Island marina across from the monuments (just off the Pentagon) and take a flat water trip to see the monuments and the area from the water. You could paddle down to Mount Vernon if you like (it is a long paddle from Columbia, but you can put in down at one of the other marinas closer to Mt. Vernon).

On the Chesapeake Bay you could explore Kent Island on the Eastern shore or see the Thomas Point Lighthouse from the water on the Western shore off Annapolis.

Etc. Lots of places to check pout. As I said above, post at CPA if you want to find some company. There are also some Meetup groups that partially have overlapping membership with CPA but sometimes have group paddles that are not listed on the CPA calendar. CPA has “pirate” groups at most locations going out on specific evenings each week - you can attach to one of these groups if you like.

A lot of good ideas, I particularly like the idea of seeing the monuments from the water. A perspective that I haven’t seen.

I told my wife the history of Mallows Bay and showed her a picture on Google Earth. She was fascinated, so we’re going to do this trip this summer.

I didn’t kayak then…
…but I used to be stationed in DC (Coast Guard) and Mallows Bay was in our AOR. Now that I am into kayaking, if I ever go back, I want to check this out. The history on this place is very interesting, and I actually put a report together for my CO at the time on the history of the place. The ships were the WWI version of the WWII Liberty Ships, except they were coal powered, leaked like no other, and in order to carry enough coal to cross the ocean, they could hardly carry any cargo. Huge flop. The remains of about 100 of the original 300 or so ships are here. pretty much, durring the Great Depression, they lined them up, stripped them of anything of value, burned them to the water line, and then recovered anything metal they could (even the nails holding them together). The operation was originally done at the Alexandria water front, but they had to move it to Mallows Bay after they almost burned down Alexandria. There is also a 40’s or 50’s era (IIRC) car ferry at the southern end of Mallows Bay. I would not try to board this vessel as it is nothing more than rust held together by rust, and have heard reports of people getting seriously injured trying to go onboard and look around. I would try to plan it durring the time of year where the water is more on the clear side. The Patomic can be pretty dirty at times. Most of the remains of the ships are about 2-3 feet below the surface, though there are a few that have become islands, with trees growing out of them and all. Not a good place to take an inflateable though.

That was 2 units ago, so I do not remember a whole lot other than that. It definately would be a short paddle. You could maybe stretch it out to 4 or 5 hours if you take lots of pics, explore and take your time, but that’s about the max.

Malllows Bay
I paddled there many times. Since I live in Virginia, not Maryland, I always put in at Quantico. Enter the Quantico Marine base, tell them you are going to launch from the park in the town of Quantico (the Marines call it “Q” town). It is about 3 miles each way to Mallows Bay. Below is a link of my favorite picture I took there.



Just don’t go there…
…in an inflatable.

Mallows Bay Meetup - July 20th

You may have to sign-up for and perhaps be added to that particular group to see the event…

And just found this trip report here on pnet: