On 375 acres of beachfront, woods, and farmfields, Kiptopeke gives families a chance
to unwind away from the crowds. My family fell in love with Kiptopeke for its simplicity.
The 0.5-mile of Chesapeake Bay beach is not particularly picturesque, but it’s rarely
crowded, and it’s always calm due to the sunken World War II ship that serves as a
breakwater for the waves. Young kids tumble in and out of tire tubes (bring your own),
happily using the gradually sloping shoreline as a playground.
At the south beach, a primitive swath of shore backed by wild grasses, locals
angle for flounder or croakers from the fishing pier, a former ferry terminal. Scheduled
activities include ranger-led fishing clinics, nighttime bonfires, lessons in becoming
a “chicken-necker” (crabbing by using poultry necks as bait), as well as canoe
treks through the salt marshes of nearby Racoon Creek.
A mile and a half of hiking trails afford plenty of opportunities for sighting birds.
Nature paths wind over sand dunes through groves of loblolly pines, sassafras, and
wild cherry trees. The Baywoods Trail, a 1-mile loop, passes the gazebo that seems
to flutter to life in September as a bird-banding station for hundreds of migratory
birds, songbirds, shorebirds, and hawks. In summer, though, the benches offer lazy
hikers like us a pleasant place to picnic and pause to watch for rabbits and deer and
to listen for quail rustling in the red oak and bayberry trees.
Kiptopeke also has basic and full-service campsites as well as RV rentals. (Reservations are required, call 800-933-7275.)