Duration: 2.5-5 hours
Distance (one-way and round trip): 3 miles from Vienna to Indiantown Bridge; 6 miles round trip
Location: Vienna Boat Ramp (Hard landing, parking, no restroom)
Link to boat ramp site: http://dnr.maryland.gov/boating/pdfs/BoatingAccessInformationDorchester27.pdf
Chicone Creek is the first tributary north of Vienna, Maryland, on the west bank of the Nanticoke River. The creek meanders through farmland in Dorchester County. Prior to the arrival of European settlers, it was home to the Nanticoke and Chicone Indians. The creek was a rich resource for both Native Americans and early settlers, providing them with waterfowl, edible plants, and muskrats.
To get to Chicone Creek, start at the public boat ramp in Vienna and paddle upriver toward the US Route 50 Bridge, staying on the west bank of the river to minimize the impact of wind and current. Paddlers would be wise to check the tides, as paddling against the tide in the Nanticoke is challenging for an inexperienced paddler. Chicone Creek is the first tributary on the west bank, approximately a half mile past the bridge.
At the mouth of Chicone Creek, paddlers will experience the beauty of the open marsh. In the summer months, wetland plants such as pickerel weed and arrow arum dominate the shoreline, providing food and habitat for wildlife. Red-winged Blackbirds can be seen perched on the water’s edge, whistling their unique song. Overhead, you may see Osprey searching for fish, occasionally diving to the water with mixed results. Watch long enough, and you may well see an Osprey come up with a fat fish in its talons.
Further up the creek, open marsh turns into swamp, and trees begin to dominate the creek’s edge. This is a welcome change on a hot summer day, as the trees provide a respite from the heat and humidity. The habitat change brings a new set of wildlife for viewing. Watch for colorful birds perching on the streamside trees, darting across the creek as boats approach. A quiet paddler may catch a glimpse of deer near the banks or a beaver patrolling its territory.
Continue up the creek, past the Indiantown Road Bridge, and you will notice that the area around the creek becomes more forested. These forested buffers provide protection from runoff and offer excellent habitat for wildlife. This portion of the creek may be difficult to navigate, depending on the tide and the presence of debris in the shallow water.
Handsell House, a brick structure currently undergoing restoration, dates from the seventeenth century and is located approximately one quarter mile from Chicone Creek on Indiantown Road. Handsell features interpretive signage and a replica longhouse and hosts tours and Nanticoke Indian demonstrations on its grounds. Each year, Handsell hosts a Nanticoke River Jamboree that showcases the house and celebrates the region’s rich natural and cultural history.
After returning to Vienna, visitors may want to stay and walk through the small quiet town that features well-maintained historic homes, a riverwalk near the boat ramp. and a family restaurant called Millie’s.
Handsell House: http://www.restorehandsell.org/
Tavern House B&B: http://www.tavernhouse.com/
More information is also available under the “Along the Trail” tab in the menu at the top of the page.
Attractions near this trip itinerary can be found under the “Dorchester County” drop-down on each subpage.