After months of breathing stale air and staring at the same boring view from your window, you’re aching for a change. Quick! Cross the Bay Bridge and head for Somerset County, where fresh air and wide-open spaces beckon. With 600 miles of shoreline, open vistas, and impressive forests, it’s a tonic after months of claustrophobic living.
For a “full-service” return to the outdoors, aim for Janes Island State Park. Whatever is on your “get back into the outdoors” checklist, the park — located on Tangier Sound just outside Crisfield — has it.
Camping? Check. There are 103 campsites for vehicles and tents, rental cabins, “camper” cabins, and backcountry campsites. Most are waterfront, so you are guaranteed a wonderful sunset view every night. Four sites are ADA accessible, as are all restrooms and one fish cleaning station. Three bathhouses have hot water showers and flush toilets. Rental cabins sleep six and have kitchens with basic cooking gear. You provide your own bedding. The camper cabins have no kitchens but do have AC and electricity. Backcountry cabins require special permits. (410-968-1565 for backcountry permits. Other reservations: 1-888-432-2267 or parkreservations.maryland.gov).
Walking trails? Check. Find paths in the woods and along the beach. There are many quiet spots with abundant wildlife, flora and fauna flourished in a year without much human activity. Look for fox, deer, woodchucks and raccoon among the loblolly pines, bald cypress and honeysuckle in the woods and the tall waving marsh grasses on the beach.
Birdwatching? Check. With both coastal and forest habitats, the park is unique. The long list of sightings includes shore and migratory species, every variety of gull, songbirds, raptors, even hummingbirds and woodpeckers. The ebird.org website has nearly 200 confirmed sightings of various species. Visit ebird.org/hotspot/L480138.
Paddling? Check. Janes Island ranks as one of the top paddle trail networks in North America. Much of it is sheltered from wind and current, making them ideal for both experienced and novice paddlers. They are posted with color-coded signage and you can download GPS waypoints. Rent canoes and kayaks at the marina on Saturdays or arrange for drop off of boats from Crisfield Kayak and Canoe (transportation fee charged). (443-783-2486; 410-968-0333)
Boating? Check. The easy-to-maneuver launch ramp gives access to Crisfield Harbor, Tangier Sound and the Big and Little Annemessex Rivers. Boat slips are available for campers for $3 per night. Launch fees are $7 for Maryland residents and $9 for non-residents.
Fishing and crabbing? Check. The relatively quiet fishing seasons last year mean healthy populations of rock, trout, blues, croakers and other Chesapeake Bay denizens. One area of the park allows fishing without a license, but most require a valid sport fishing license. Handline crabbing is a popular (and often frustrating) activity along Daugherty Creek. (The crabs sense when they are near the surface and only the crabbers with the fastest nets catch them.)
Swimming? Check. However, your destination is now Raccoon Point Park in Westover. Sitting on a peninsula where Back Creek flows into the Manokin River, it has two pavilions with picnic tables and a wide, long, sheltered beach. Much of the land along the 17 miles of the Manokin River are reserved as a habitat for birds and wildlife, so you could do worse than paddle a kayak or canoe along its course. Crisfield Canoe and Kayak will rent you a boat and deliver it for a day or longer. (443-783-2486; 410-968-0333)
Saltwater fishing? Check. Connect with nearly two dozen charter fishing boats leaving from Crisfield or Deal Island for full or half-day excursions. Outfitted with range finders, radar and radios, they promise a good day on the water and a good chance of catching your limit of rockfish, blues, trout and Mackerel. Some captains offer bird watching and eco-trips. They also cast off on sunset cruises. If one of them isn’t on your checklist, it should be.