Weekend Wheeling in Washington, D.C.
The Maryland Eastern Shore lies to the east of Chesapeake Bay. One can only dream about the solitude of this area before the Bay Bridge was constructed. A taste of this can be had by visiting Kent County, Maryland, which is only 65 miles from the Capital Beltway. Chestertown is the county seat and the entry point to the county when traveling from Washington.
To reach Chestertown, follow US Route 50 east from Washington. US Route 301 joins Route 50 before Annapolis. Go past Annapolis and cross Bay Bridge, then bear left to follow Route 301 north, as Route 50 goes to the right and east. Go six miles on Route 301 from the split with Route 50, then follow State Route 213 for 18 miles to Chestertown.
The geography of Kent County makes getting seriously lost virtually impossible. Once you've crossed the Chester River into Chestertown, you're on a peninsula jutting into Chesapeake Bay and bounded by the Chester River to the south, the Sassafras River to the north, and Route 301 to the east. With a compass or some sunlight, navigation is a piece of cake.
Although Chestertown is a delight scenically and otherwise, my favorite Kent County bicycling destinations are Rock Hall, a former fishing village, now an upscale retreat southwest of Chestertown; and the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge to the south of Rock Hall. If you want to see all of Kent County, select routes that include Chestertown, Rock Hall, and the wildlife refuge, and Betterton Beach to the north.
For people who want to make more than just a day trip to Kent County for an easy bike ride, an overnight stay makes the trip a special treat and allows time for greater exploration. One of my favorite inns in the Mid-Atlantic area is Great Oak Manor, a former estate on the water's edge at the western edge of Kent County. Mentally, it's about as far from Washington as you can get, which can be a good thing for both residents and visitors.
Kent County has a very sophisticated Web site with a number of detailed bicycle route maps and directions and several choices for accommodations.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication