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Baltimore Living

Best Place to Paddle

The Northwest Branch of the Patapsco River

It may be trash-strewn and sewage-laden, but the Patapsco River's Northwest Branch#8212;which starts at Fort McHenry and includes Baltimore's Inner Harbor#8212;has, in recent years, become a paddler-friendly place. The growth of the Canton Kayak Club ( has increased both the number of paddlers and their points of access to and from the water, so you can look forward to plenty of company. Yachts, commercial vessels, and motorized small craft produce plenty of traffic, wakes, and standing waves to keep kayakers and canoeists on high alert, but nooks and crannies along the pier-laden shoreline provide places for safe harbor. If the waters get too crowded, there's always the option of waiting out the rush hour ashore and catching a bite and a beer in the harbor-side neighborhoods. Remember, though, that lathering up with plenty of strong soap helps reduce the risk of infection after coming in contact with Baltimore's nasty harbor water, which at times hosts massive fish kills. Enjoy!

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