Mariner Point Park (Joppa / Abingdon)
100 Kearney Dr, 1, Abingdon, MD 21085Mariner Point Park is located just off Route 40 in Joppa. Turn onto Joppa Farm Road (Redner’s and Farmer’s Market on the corner) and follow that road down about 2.5 miles. Make a right at the Royal Farms onto Kearney Drive, which ends at the park. As you pull into the park, drive past the first lot, which will likely be overflowing with boat trailers. After you pass the first lot, you will see a smaller lot on the right hand side. Pull into this lot, and you will find a small put-in alongside the right-hand side between the trees. Unload your vessel here and park. There are a few relatively steep steps at the put-in, so be careful if you have bad knees or a heavy board. Take your time and set your board down as you step. The steps are not treacherously steep, but steep enough to need to take your time. There is a small sandy shore for you to launch from.
Mariner Point Park is a wonderful park to spend the day in, even if you aren’t paddling. There is a large covered pavilion, a nature filled walking path, canopy cover, picnic tables, grills, and loads of fishing piers. The fishing piers are amazing. Each has a covered pavilion where fishermen and spectators can escape the sun, but still enjoy the water and fishing. This is especially great for those with limited mobility, as they are wheelchair accessible. From the pavilions, you can step down onto a traditional fishing pier, as well. This park is home to an abundance of black squirrels. This may sounds trivial to you, but I have never seen a black squirrel until I stepped into this park, and they are seemingly everywhere. It turns out that they are actually regular ol’ Eastern Grey Squirrels with a recessive gene, the same recessive gene that is responsible for black panthers. Pretty cool to see!As far as the water quality goes, Mariner Point Park is a great location. The park is located on Gunpowder Basin, where the Gunpowder River and both Gunpowder Falls merge and widen, and it neighbors Bird River. The water is clean and clear with lots of sea grass and plants in the shallower areas. This area received a C on the 2016 Chesapeake Bay Report Card, which is about the highest score you will find anywhere on the bay. Due to the park being so popular, there is a moderate amount of boat traffic in the channel, however, boats are limited to 6 knots. The channel is relatively short, and once the boats reach the wider, more open area of the Gunpowder River, they quickly speed off out of the area. That is likely because many of the waterways around the channel are narrow, or have high sea grass. There are endless coves and water trails to explore here which makes for a new adventure every visit. Once you launch your vessel, you can go westward (to the right) and head into a residential / marina area, or you can paddle eastward to head into more open waters of the Gunpowder River and/or the quiet trails and coves of the Big and Little Gunpowder Falls. Continuing straight out of the channel (east), you will be heading under a large Amtrak train bridge and into the open and popular waters of Gunpowder River. If you make a right turn once you are out of the channel (southward), you will see the various water trails that you can explore. Some paths dead end in lilly covered coves, while others will carry you along the Big and Little Gunpowder Falls rivers. There is minimal current and chop within the coves and smaller water trails, making it an ideal, relatively flat water paddle. There is an abundance of wildlife to be seen from the water. During one visit, I saw a mid-air “dogfight” between a heron and a bald eagle. The birds swooped and zig-zagged only a few feet over my head as the eagle tried to steal a fish from the heron, mid-air!