Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott (far right) paddles alongside young people who are kayaking for the first time on the Baltimore Blueway. Photo: Mayor Brandon Scott/Facebook

Baltimore Water Trail Network Brings New Access for Paddle Sports

Thursday morning Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott paddled a kayak through the Inner Harbor alongside other paddlers for the unveiling of the Baltimore Blueway plan. In one of the Bay’s most urban areas, the city is launching a network of eight water trails and 20 access points for non-motorized craft. 

These trails will connect cultural, historic and natural sites throughout Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and Middle Branch, promoting a new way to discover Baltimore. A blueway is a designated route or series of routes that is primarily designed for kayaks, canoes, rowboats and stand-up paddleboards.  

The new plan’s creators aim to establish the Inner Harbor as a recreational resource for both the region and the state by connecting regional trails, enhancing economic activity and increasing accessibility and

public access.

“The Baltimore Blueway presents an exciting opportunity for our city, state and region, and Waterfront Partnership is committed to leading this effort to bring water recreation back to the Baltimore waterfront,” shared Adam Lindquist, vice president of Waterfront Partnership’s Healthy Harbor Initiative. “After years of restoration, the Harbor has reached a tipping point where it can now be managed as a recreational resource,” he added.

The new kayak launch is expected to open spring 2024 at the red-brick promenade across from Rash Field Park, next to the Maryland Science Center.

For fifty years, leaking sewers and industrial pollution have since made the water quality in the Inner Harbor too risky for paddle sports or swimming. Under the Waterfront Partnership’s Healthy Harbor Initiative, the water is much cleaner today. There has been a 97 percent reduction of overflows from Baltimore’s sanitary sewer system into the streams and harbor.

“This project represents a significant step forward in our commitment to enhance recreational opportunities, to preserve our natural resources, and to foster a deeper connection between our residents and the environment,” said Mayor Scott.

Now that the plan is complete, the Waterfront Partnership will move into the next phase of actualizing the Baltimore Blueway. The Baltimore Tourism Improvement District provided $125,000 to add a priority access point in the Inner Harbor, Lindquist said at the unveiling Thursday.

Maryland Comptroller Brooke Lierman was also at the unveiling and said, “Baltimore Blueway is an innovative and exciting way to revitalize local communities with an outdoor activity that highlights clean waterways and healthy lifestyles.”

The plan is funded by the Abell Foundation, South Baltimore Gateway Partnership, Baltimore National Heritage Area and Waterfront Partnership. 

-Dorothy Hood