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Ever wondered what a restored Chesapeake Bay would look like? Head to Smallwood State Park along Mattawoman Creek, located about 22 miles south of Washington, D.C. This tidal freshwater estuary is an approximate representation of the Bay’s ideal conditions: exceptionally clear water, extensive beds of submerged underwater vegetation (SAV), and many species of fish, mussels, amphibians, reptiles, and birds. Unfortunately, this hotspot for biodiversity has faced increased pressure from development, threatening wildlife and water quality.
Mattawoman Creek appears on Captain John Smith’s 1608 map as “Mataughquamend,” an Algonquian compound meaning, “where one goes pleasantly.” Paddling here is certainly pleasant, although it can be difficult to navigate through the submerged grasses and American lotus.
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.
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:
In an emergency, dial 911
University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center
5 Garrett Avenue
La Plata, MD 20646
Captain John Smith Chesapeake NHT
Star-Spangled Banner NHT
Potomac Heritage NST