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Itinerary:

The British Encampments of Fairlee Creek Landing

Fairlee Creek is not a creek directly on the Sassafras River, but rather a tributary off the Chesapeake Bay. As a result, the one and a half mile trip from the landing to the creek’s mouth yields spectacular views of the upper Bay. The mouth of Fairlee Creek served as a staging area for British troops during the War of 1812. Most notably, British troops raided and burned several houses on Fairlee Creek before marching from their encampment to the Battle of Caulk’s Field.

Fairlee Creek is very scenic even away from the mouth, with wooded shorelines, scattered houses, and large farms to view while on a paddle. For more of an adventure, paddlers can venture out into the Bay to head north to Worton Creek or south to Tolchester Marina. However, paddling into the open waters of the Bay should be attempted only on calm, clear days. 
 

Things to Know

Fairlee Creek is relatively small, so it is only a 1.5 mile paddle from the landing to the mouth. There paddlers can experience incredible views of the Bay. For an extra challenge, continue north five miles to Worton Creek or south for 6.5 miles to Tolchester Marina. These routes should only be attempted on very calm days.  Note that during the boating season the mouth of the Creek is a very popular power boat anchorage, as is the tiki bar on the east side of the creek mouth known as Jellyfish Joel's.  The crowds begin in May and last through mid-October, so if you are looking to get off the beaten path choose times of the year before and after these peak seasons.

Navigational Hazards

It is a short paddle from the launch site to the the mouth of the creek, however paddlers should note that this area is prone to strong currents. Paddling at the mouth or in the open Bay should only be attemped on calm, clear days. Beginners should plan to avoid the mouth entirely because of the strength of the currents there.

Water Safety

Remember: safe use of rivers and any designated trails, at any time, is your responsibility! Water trail maps are for informational and interpretive purposes only and are not meant for navigational purposes, nor do they take into account level of skills or ability required to navigate rivers. The National Park Service, Chesapeake Conservancy and/or the individual trail associations assume no responsibility or liability for any injury or loss resulting directly or indirectly from the use of water trails, maps or other printed or web-based materials. Learn more about water safety.

Marine Forecast

We STRONGLY suggested that you review the marine forecast ahead of heading out for a paddling trip. To review the forecast for this paddle trip, visit:

Emergency Information

Launch site address: End of Fairlee Cove Dr, Chestertown, MD 21620

Nearest hospitals: UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown (100 Brown St, Chestertown, MD 21620; 410-778-3300) and Chester River Hospital Center (6602 Church Hill Rd #300, Chestertown, MD 21620; 410-778-3300).
 

Parking & Shuttles

This site has only shoulder parking available on the road preceding the launch site. There is space for about six vehicles; please plan accordingly. 

Restrooms

There is no public restroom at this site. 

Equipment

  • ALWAYS wear a properly secured personal flotation device (PFD) when participating in paddlesport activities. Make sure that your PFD has a readily accessible safety whistle.
  • Bring a paddle float and water pump for self rescue.
  • A spray skirt is recommended for cold/foul weather.
  • Wear appropriate protective clothing that shields you from the sun (sunglasses, sunblock, hat, and a long-sleeved shirt that can get wet) and is safe to swim in. Water shoes with closed toes will protect you from abrasive hazards at launch areas that can cut your feet.
  • Bring water in bottles than can be secured to your craft. Bring more water than you think you’ll need and drink regularly throughout your journey.
     

Outfitters

Camping & Amenities

There is a concrete ramp at this site from which to launch small boats in addition to kayaks and canoes.

There are no camping amenities at Fairlee Creek.

Trail History

There are numerous sites along the Sassafras River and its smaller tributaries that lay claim to events of the War of 1812. In May 1813 and July 1814, dwellings all along the river and other waterways were subjected to raids by British forces. In some instances, locals fought back and defended their homes; in others, towns and buildings were burned by the invading troops. Most notably, British Rear Admiral Sir George Cockburn led troops up the Sassafras to raid the ports of Georgetown and Fredericktown on May 6, 1813. 

Weather

Main image: Chris Cerino