Merritt Point Park (Dundalk)
7710 Dunmanway, Dundalk, MD 21222
Merritt Point Park is a small park conveniently located off the 695 / Merritt Blvd exit. The park is home to several rec leagues, and is a local favorite for family fishing. There is a playground, pavilion, and a public restroom. There are always people nearby enjoying the park in the afternoons and on the weekends, which makes this park feel a bit safer for solo paddlers. During the warmer months, park employees can regularly be seen driving around and maintaining the park, especially during baseball and football season. The park has a dual-lane boat ramp with ample boat parking. Paddlers can even park on the grass directly next to the boat ramps to minimize the distance they must carry their gear.
As far as the water goes – the water quality is on par with other creeks along the bay. 2016 Chesapeake Bay Report Card ratings gave this area a D- rating. Now, before you jump on the Dundalk-bashing-bandwagon, you should know that Annapolis, Gibson Island, and other ritzy areas along the bay also received D ratings. The overall bay received a C, which is the highest rating it has received in 29 years. The water in this area has some pollution, as does most of the bay, however the waters have been deemed safe for swimming and recreational activities.
Water conditions range greatly due to the relatively close proximity to the mouth of the Patapsco River and Chesapeake Bay, but for the most part, the water conditions are generally mild within the park’s channel and neighboring creeks. There is minimal boat traffic along Merritt Park’s channel for about 3/4 of a mile, until you reach the more open waters of Bear Creek, as you approach the Peninsula Highway drawbridge, where boat traffic increases moderately. Within the area of the drawbridge and CSX bridge, boat wakes are limited to a friendly 6 knots.
Launching at Merritt Park gives you access to numerous small, scenic creeks. The waters are surrounded by marinas, homes, restaurants, and the Sparrows Point Country Club. The waterfront is lined with swaths of cattails and greenary. If you continue up the channel, passing the piers of Merritt Park and Chesterwood Park on the left, you will approach the Peninsula Highway drawbridge. If you make a right here, you will be heading towards the Patapsco River, Francis Scott-Key Bridge, and Chesapeake Bay. If you make a left, just past the drawbridge you will find several osprey nests on pilings in the water (don’t get too close), and a large, rusty CSX railroad swing bridge. The bridge always seems to be in the open position, and it is a very cool landmark to explore and photograph. Just past the swing bridge, on the left hand side is the Hard Yacht Cafe and BMore SUP. During the weekend evenings you can paddle up near the Hard Yacht Cafe and listen to live music. You could even dock your board and grab some food and drinks. Continuing past Hard Yacht you will find Sparrows Point Country Club on the right hand side. There is a small creek that wanders into the country club where you can explore the golf course and grounds. There are endless creeks to explore along Bear Creek. The quietness of the waters, the safety of the park, and the convenient location make Merritt Park one of my favorite places to launch.