Into the Great Outdoors

Picture this: Deep blue water dotted with sailboats, the sky speckled with fluffy clouds, birds gliding and chattering, tall grasses bending against a gentle breeze.

If your reaction to such a scene is to jump into adventure, find it in Talbot County, Maryland. Located on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay just an hour and a half from Washington D.C., picturesque settings are commonplace.

One of the Eastern Coast’s most beautiful destinations, Talbot County boasts more than 600 miles of tidal shoreline. Whether you want to make a splash into the Bay or stay on dry land, opportunities for adventure abound. Among the possibilities…

Paddleboarders enjoy the serenity of early morning at Easton Point.

Explore the Bay.

Bring your kayak, paddleboard, sailboat, or wave runner. Don’t have one? No problem! Rent from an outfitter such as Dockside Boat Rentals in Oxford, Shore Pedal & Paddle in St. Michaels, and Knapps Narrows Marina on Tilghman Island. Bird watching is excellent out on the water: Watch for blue heron, bald eagles, and osprey, among other species.

Take a walk on the wild side.

The trails at Pickering Creek Audubon Center meander through 400 acres of forests and fields. In Easton the 2.5-mile Rails-to-Trails trek runs along an old railroad line. In St. Michaels, the 1.3-mile Nature Trail weaves through trees, fields, neighborhoods, and a covered bridge. Don’t forget your camera!

The backroads of Talbot County are perfect for cycling.

Pedal a bike.

Stop by the Visitor Center in Easton and pick up a map that details six routes ranging from 26.7 miles to 38.2 miles, each with a different theme including Chesapeake Views, Cemetery Quest, and even a trail that highlights jousting (Maryland’s state sport). Talbot County is home to a handful of bike rental outfits including Easton Cycle and Sport (which also rents kayaks and other crafts).

Try sport fishing.

Charter captains leave from almost every port in Talbot County, including Tilghman Island and Oxford. Cast a line with any number of fishing captains for local catches like rockfish, drum, sea trout, perch, flounder, and Spanish mackerel. Half- and full-day outings are available for parties of up to six. Bait and tackle are included, as is advice from the experienced guide.

Charter a sailing tour.

Captain Iris Clarke helms the sailboat Selina II, named for her great-grandmother that her grandparents had built in 1926 as a private family yacht. Built on Long Island, N.Y., the unique boat sails steady at a max speed of seven knots. “I like to call her the pink Cadillac of cushy boats,” says Clarke, who hosts up to six passengers per outing.

Ride a ferry.

The Oxford-Bellevue Ferry, established in 1683, is the nation’s oldest operating ferry. Cross the Tred Avon River to or from Oxford, the oldest town on the Eastern Shore. Ride with a car for $12, with a bike for $4, or walk aboard and ride for $3 from April through November.

The skipjack H.M. Krentz offers charters in St. Michaels.

Catch a ride on a skipjack.

Though they’ve been working the Chesapeake for more than 300 years, only 16 of these original oystering boats are still operating; a few offer tours. Skipjack H. M. Krentz, which first launched in 1955, sets sail for group charters from St. Michaels. Skipjack Rebecca T. Ruark, an official “National Historic Landmark” built in 1886, sails daily from Dogwood Harbor on Tilghman Island.

Take a cruise.

The Patriot, a replica of a 1930s steam ferry, departs from St. Michaels for hour-long tours of the Miles River depart. During the trip, the captain and crew share local history that ranges from the War of 1812 to the movie Wedding Crashers. The 149-passenger ship’s route passes 200-year-old historic mansions and wildlife areas for a comprehensive Bay experience.

Learn to sail.

Get out on the water in one of the museum’s wood sailing skiffs at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, built through its “Apprentice for a Day” program. If you need help, you can learn the basic sailing skills during a private lesson. Kayaks and rowboats are also for rent as part of the program.

Go crabbing.

On Tilghman Island, third-generation waterman Captain Wade Murphy III will teach how to work the water. Whether you want to learn how to crab or just hoping to catch dinner, this is an outing with genuine local flavor. Each participant can keep up to a half-bushel of crabs. Sunset cruises aboard the work boat are also available.

Start planning your escape to Talbot County, Maryland, today.