The Mathews' County Blueways Water Trail system contains about 90 miles of paddling trails on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Some of the best paddles in the area are contained in the trail and each entry point has a large signboard showing where you are, some of the known hazards and where to paddle.  We started from a small, but beautiful public beach at the end of Haven Beach Road. There is no entry fee, and there is a small parking lot, a clean porta-john, and a reasonably well-protected beach behind a small breakwater to launch from. It's about a 100m or so walk from the lot to the beach, which makes for an easy portage. The launch is easy, although the breakwaters and surrounding barrier islands can stir things up very quickly, so consider going 20m to the right for a bit more protection if it's windy. The paddle itself is beautiful as you turn north. The first barrier island you'll see is Rigby Island. Depending on the tide, various parts of the islands will be submerged, but Rigby was still there at high tide when we paddled and full of terns, ospreys and other birds. You can choose to "rough it" on the Bay side, or hide behind the island for a smooth ride during a windy day. Once you clear Rigby, you'll paddle past (or through) the "Hole in the Wall" where a storm broke through the barrier islands. This area can be very stirred up when windy, so caution is advised. Sandy Point is also a caution area and even on a relatively calm day it there can be breaking waves due to the sand bars. After paddling the eastern shore of Gwynn Island you'll make a hard turn west to Hills Bay and the confluence of the Piankatank River and the Chesapeake. It's a fairly protected paddle all the way through the narrows separating Gwynn Island and the mainland. The Middle Grounds and Milford Haven see a lot of boat traffic, so stay to the west and remain out of the channel. You'll see many boats congregating around Sandy Point, a perfect picnic spot, but it's easy to find a private stretch of beach and feel like you've fallen into a tropical paradise in the middle of Virginia. Overall, a great place to paddle where you can find smooth or challenging waters depending on your druthers.

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