By Kathy Knotts
Last summer’s unprecedented boating and recreation boom, driven by pandemic precautions and a need to get outdoors, was met by more residents wanting access to the Bay and its tributaries. Anne Arundel County just recently opened its third trailered boat ramp at Solley Cove Park in Curtis Bay last week.
The $2 million project was approved by former County Executive Steve Schuh who made it a mission to expand water access to county residents, vowing to create boating access on both shores of every major tributary in the county. Presently, only two other county sites have public boat access: Fort Smallwood Park and Discovery Village in Shady Side. The City of Annapolis has a public launch at Truxtun Park and there is a launch at Sandy Point State Park. Now the northern part of the county has another launch option.
“Opening up our third county public boat ramp to me is symbolic of our commitment to public water access,” says Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks Director Jessica Leys. “That’s why this ribbon cutting was so exciting for me as the new director.”
Leys became director in May. She stresses that another boat ramp couldn’t have come at a better time. “Boating is in high demand, both during and coming out of the pandemic, so providing more access to our waterways is a priority. There are over 14,000 trailered boats in the county—that’s a huge number of people that need water access.”
Now anglers, paddlers, boaters and cruisers can reach the Bay via Curtis Creek and the Patapsco River. The 75-acre Glen Burnie park was purchased in 1998 and has long been a hidden favorite for kayakers.
Avid paddler and water access advocate Lisa Arrasmith has been launching off the old dirt ramp for nearly 15 years.
“Solley Cove Park is a great location for paddlers and a perfect location for a public boat ramp,” she said. “First, it offers sheltered water on Curtis Creek, Marley Creek, Furnace Creek, Back Creek and Curtis Bay. That’s good for both paddlers and smaller trailered boats.”
Boats of all sizes will be able to see the Coast Guard Yard directly across from the new ramp. Arrasmith reports spotting both the USCG Eagle and the USS Constellation at the yard. Boaters can also see shipwrecks from WWI and a sunken ocean-going tug by the Beltway bridge as well.
Arrasmith recommends stopping at the American Legion Post 277 in Solley Cove Park, for a post-outing beverage at their waterfront tiki bar. There are also dock bars on nearby Furnace Creek. Duke’s Tavern and Ram’s Head Dockside both offer space for big boats and a sandy beach for paddlers.
The new ramp features a design with a concrete boat ramp on one side and a kayak beach launch on the other. A floating pier makes launching easier, too. The design and construction team from BayLand Consultants also installed a living shoreline. The project required the removal of existing dilapidated structures and new tree and shrub plantings.
The parking lot is constructed of permeable pavers with long spaces for 12 vehicle trailers and 20 regular car-sized spots. Portable toilets are open seasonally. ADA-accessible parking is available. Pasadena Paintball operations will continue in a designated area next to the launch parking.
Leys says that all the improvements around the launch benefit not just the boaters but also visitors to the American Legion or the paintball company and the community in general.
“This is a community that lives by the water but may not have access to get on the water. All the other ramps or launches are privately owned and cost money. There is no fee to use the Solley Cove ramp,” said Leys.
Solley Cove Park is open from dawn to dusk.