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Itinerary:

A Near New World Adventure at Newtowne Neck

Pastoral, undeveloped, and surrounded on 3 sides by water, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped onto the set of The New World or stepped back in time 300 years when you arrive on the peninsula of Newtowne Neck State Park. Bounded by Breton Bay, the Potomac River, and Saint Clements Bay, the 776-acre park has 7 miles of scenic, sandy shoreline.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources purchased Newtowne Neck in late April of 2009 from the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, order of Catholic priests called Jesuits. The Jesuits had owned the property, along with several other parcels on the Potomac for nearly 300 years. The land was purchased to protect the ecologically and recreationally important waterfront from development. The park’s outstanding scenery, water access, gentle topography and significant history offer something for everyone.

In 1634, English colonists sailed up Saint Clements Bay aboard the Ark and the Dove, seeking religious freedom. Today, thanks to the acquisition and conservation by Maryland Park Service of this pristine riverfront farmland, you can paddle the same waters to find freedom from the hustle of the modern world.

Paddling Notes

  • Though no outfitters or concessions currently exist on site, several outfitters within driving distance offer equipment rentals.
  • The gravel parking lot for the kayak launch is conveniently close to the shoreline launch area.
  • The kayak launch is on St. Nicholas Creek within Breton Bay, giving paddlers a calmer, protected body of water from which to begin trips. Other paddling routes to stay inside Breton Bay and explore the smaller tributaries such as Combs Creek and Cherry Cove Creek give paddlers alternatives to going around the peninsula.
  • Lacey Beach, at the end of Newtowne Neck, though not as convenient to launch from due to the longer portage to the shore, is a good place for picnicking, taking a rest stop, or driving to at the end of the day to take in a sunset.
  • Unexploded ordnance from US Navy 1940s era munitions testing has been found on the site. If you find any suspicious or unknown objects (please see included/linked DNR “3Rs” supplemental material), follow the “3 Rs” - Recognize, Retreat, Report - and call 911 or Maryland Park authorities at the numbers provided.

Navigational Hazards

N/A

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

Address per DNR webpage:

Newtowne Neck State Park
MD 243
Compton, MD 20627

Address per emergency responder info (address for kayak launch parking lot):

21550 Newtowne Neck Road
Leonardtown, MD 20650
(GPS 38.259485, -W 76.700777)

Emergency and 24-Hour Contact Information:

For park information or assistance call the park ranger
Duty Ranger 301-872-5688 (Point Lookout ranger station) or 301-743-5161 between 8:00am–12:00pm (Myrtle Grove WMA)
DNR Communications Center 410-260-8888

For 24-hour assistance or to report a violation, call the Natural Resources Police:

410-260-8888 or 1-800-825-7275

The Natural Resources Policy (NRP) is the primary law enforcement agency for Maryland State Parks.

Hospital:

MedStar St. Mary's Hospital
25500 Point Lookout Rd
Leonardtown, MD 20650
(301) 475-8981

Parking & Shuttles

A gravel parking lot with ample parking is available at the park’s kayak launch site. At this time, camping is not permitted within Newtowne Neck State Park. Overnight parking is permitted for the purpose of paddling, however check with the park first to inform them of your activity. Per the DNR website, Certain activities are permitted outside of the regular park hours (e.g. fishing, boat launch, hunting where permitted). Please check with the park before your visit if you plan to engage in an activity which requires you to be in the park before or after the posted hours.

Restrooms

Portable toilets available year-round.

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 protective clothing appropriate to the weather, activity, and environment, especially sun protection (large brimmed hat, sunglasses, long sleeved water-appropriate shirt, sunblock lotion). Assume that you will get wet and be mindful that your clothing should be safe to swim in.
  • 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 & Ammenities

There is NOT a potable water source available to the public at Newtowne Neck State Park.

At this time, camping is not permitted within Newtowne Neck State Park. However, within the area, there are a number of campgrounds as well as VRBO and AirBnB possibilities. Some of the waterside campground options are:

Colton Shipping Point Farm
301-807-0988 or 301-769-4359
39244 Burch Road, Avenue, Maryland 20609

Dennis Point Marina & Campground
301-994-2288
46555 Dennis Point Way, Drayden, Maryland 20630

Camp Merryelande Vacation Cottages
301-994-1722
15914 Camp Merryelande Rd, Piney Point, MD 20674

Trail History

Captain John Smith Chesapeake NHT

  • Captain John Smith and his crew spent about a month exploring the ‘Patawomeck’ River. While Smith reported seeing no native inhabitants for the first thirty miles, later explorers met the Yaocomaco up the St. Mary’s River. Like other upriver tribes, the Yaocomaco probably collected oysters and fish at the mouth of the river, working from seasonal camps. In the late 17th century, the Yaocomaco sold their land to the Maryland Colony and moved across the Potomac to what is now known as the Yeocomico River.
  • Publication of Smith’s map drew settlers to the Chesapeake and, in particular, the Potomac River. In 1634, Governor Leonard Calvert landed in Southern Maryland on the Ark and the Dove.  After being warned that the Piscataway, further up the Potomac, would not be hospitable to him and his crew he chose to settle up the St. Mary’s River where the Yaocomaco Indians lived. Calvert exchanged goods for land that became St. Mary’s City, the fourth permanent settlement in British North America.
  • Newtowne Neck was home to Piscataway Indians prior to colonization. It ultimately became the second colonial settlement in Maryland, after St. Mary’s City.

Star-Spangled Banner NHT

  • St. George’s Island once belonged to the Jesuits as a part of St. Inigoes Manor. In July 1776, Americans fought the British to keep them from crossing to the mainland.
  • The US Navy established an observation post at St. Ignatius Catholic Church-St. Thomas Manor, which is located on a hill at Chapel Point overlooking the confluence of the Port Tobacco and the Potomac Rivers. This strategic location allowed citizens to see the British squadron as they advanced up the Potomac in August 1814 to threaten Alexandria, VA.

Potomac Heritage NST

  • Newtowne Neck is an early Jesuit farm and site of a 1662 chapel, the oldest continually used cemetery in Maryland, and the oldest frame Catholic Church in Maryland. During WWII, Newtowne Neck was leased from the Jesuits by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab. It was known as the Newtowne Neck Proving Ground and was used for the testing and development of the highly classified proximity fuse. This innovation played a significant role in winning WWII.
  • Nearby Webster Field, located on present-day Naval Air Station Patuxent River, boasts numerous archaeological sites that are eligible for designation on the National Register of Historic Places, including American Indian sites dating from the Late Archaic to the Late Woodland. The site includes relics from the early 17th-century Jesuit ownership as well. The Jesuits were significant in the founding of the MD colony, and St. Inigoes Manor was the home farm where the Jesuits built a succession of manor houses, beginning in the 1630s with St. Inigoes House. The Jesuits’ occupation is evident through numerous important archaeological sites including cemeteries, slave sites, tenant sites, manor house sites and a chapel site. Part of Webster Field is an area historically known as Fort Point, believed to be the site of the Maryland colony's 17th century St. Inigoes Fort. In the 19th century, a number of 17th-century cannons were removed from just offshore in the St. Mary's River. The third St. Inigoes Manor house (built ca. 1750) stood on Priest Point during the War of 1812. It was looted in 1814 by the British in a well-documented raid. Portions of the house still survive as ruins on Webster Field.

Weather

Main image: Find Your Chesapeake