Leonardtown Maryland and McIntosh Run
By Bob Tagert
With the arrival of September and cooler weather, I decided to take a drive to Leonardtown, Maryland and join Dave Lane, owner Dave of PAC Paddle Sports, and take two kayaks down McIntosh Run to the headwaters of Breton Bay and Leonardtown Wharf. PAC Paddle Sports is located next to the Port of Leonardtown Winery at Port of Leonardtown Park, a passive park that provides access to the McIntosh Run water trail.
The McIntosh Run watershed is currently one of the most ecologically intact watersheds remaining in Maryland, containing large blocks of contiguous forest, providing habitat for many different species of wildlife. The cool water, which flows freely from upstream, offers a good habitat for restocking and seining yellow perch. The Maryland Coastal Conservation Association seines in this area three to four times a year to study fish population. Additionally, the watershed supports thriving populations of plants and animals. In fact, McIntosh Run supports one of three viable populations of endangered dwarf wedge mussels in Maryland and several rare plant species.
The paddle itself is fairly easy, beginning at the launch ramp and gradually increasing in width as we come nearer to Breton Bay. The run is affected by the tides running up Breton Bay from the Potomac River. If you begin your journey at low tide, which we did, there are a few shallow spots where you have to get out of the kayak and drag to deeper water. Soon you are in continuous deeper water and can concentrate on the wildlife and flora.
On the day of our paddle the weather was still in the hot and humid cycle of summer, but the canopy of trees provided much appreciated shade. The work of Dave’s crew can be seen along the way as brush is cleared and fallen trees are cut back from blocking any passage. As the run broadens the trees give way to tall grass, which line the banks. The trail here meanders through grasses and receding trees which are home to Bald Eagles, Baltimore Orioles, wild turkey and other bird species.
As you quietly drift around the bend in the water it is not uncommon to see a Great Blue Heron perched on a fallen tree or standing in the shallows searching for a small fish. As the trail opens up at Breton Bay we spotted the Blue Heron that is on the cover as he quietly took to flight. As the marshes continue to recede and the waters broaden, you will see a dock, a few large waterfront homes and duck blinds hidden by cattails to the right. A few more strokes of the paddle and the kayak guides silently through the water and The Leonardtown Wharf Public Park comes into view on the left.
Leaving the canopy of the trees we were soon drenched it the warm sun and began to feel the heat. There was a light breeze that was pleasant and also gave us a little push for the return trip. We turned back after about 2 ½ miles and made the entire round trip in about 2 ½ hours. In addition to the Blue Herons we saw Bald Eagles, White Egrets, muskrat dens, turtles and a brown water snake sunning on a log.
St. Mary’s County is the birthplace of Maryland and Leonardtown is the county seat. Shaped by the Chesapeake Bay and its mighty tributaries, the Patuxent and Potomac Rivers, the St. Mary’s peninsula has fostered a traditional lifestyle anchored in the natural bounty of the Tidewater. Today, Maryland’s oldest county blends a vibrant economy-it’s the state’s fastest growing region it terms of technology-related jobs-with its rural past.
After a day on the water, treat yourself to one of the award winning wines available at Port of Leonardtown Winery, or head into town for a leisurely lunch or quiet dinner at one of the great restaurants in Leonardtown.
Leonardtown is a country drive down Route 5 in Maryland. Another route that has less traffic is to take Route 4 from the beltway in Maryland. Drive about 50 minutes to Hollywood, Maryland and make a right to Leonardtown. McIntosh Run is part of the park at Port of Leonardtown Winery. For more information and details call (410)394-2770 or paddle.paxadventure.com.