Virginia Seaside Water Trail - Oyster Harbor Launch Site

Oyster Harbor

Oyster Harbor Boat Ramp

Northampton County

Keep to the right entering parking lot. The fixed dock to the right of the boat ramps is ideal for mid- to high-tides. Usable at low tide, but paddlers may prefer to use ramps if possible.  Fee for use of ramp.

Launch site owner:

Northampton County - 757.678.0440

Directions to launch site:

  • From the Cape Charles stop light on US 13, go east on Business 13, 1 mile.
  • Right on Rt 639, 2.3 miles.
  • Left on Rt 1802, 0.6 miles.
  • Ramp and dock at end of road.

GPS Coordinates:

+37.2886 / -75.9240


Beginner Paddler Routes:

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South Out of Oyster

Route Description:

Launch at the Oyster Harbor boat ramp. As you paddle out of the harbor, stay to the right side of the channel and avoid boat traffic. Upon exiting the entrance channel turn right and paddle down along the shoreline. This paddling route is highlighted by fringe marshes and salt marsh islands frequented by many species of shorebirds and wading birds. Be aware of the tidal flats that are exposed throughout this region at Low Tide. This coastline continues South to the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge. Please explore only as much of the shoreline as befits your paddling ability. It is recommended for beginner paddlers to remain within sight of the channel markers for Oyster Harbor. You will return to the launch by retracing your route. Please remain on the Right side of the channel to avoid powerboat traffic.

Oyster Harbor - beginner route - South out of Oyster

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North Out of Oyster

Route Description:

Launch at the Oyster Harbor boat ramp. As you paddle out of the harbor, stay to the left side of the channel and avoid boat traffic. Upon exiting the entrance channel turn left and paddle North up the shoreline. This paddle is highlighted by fringe marshes and salt marsh islands frequented by many species of shore birds and wading birds. Be aware of the tidal flats that are exposed throughout this region at Low Tide. This coastline continues North past the new Northampton County Seaside Park. Please explore only as much of the shoreline as befits your paddling ability. It is recommended for beginner paddlers to remain within sight of the channel markers for Oyster Harbor. You will return to the launch by retracing your route. Please remain on the Right side of the channel to avoid powerboat traffic.

Oyster Harbor - beginner route - North out of Oyster


Advanced Paddler Routes: 

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Oyster Harbor to Red Bank Boat Ramp

Route Description:

Launch at the Oyster Harbor boat ramp. As you paddle out of the harbor, stay to the left side of the channel and avoid boat traffic. Upon exiting the entrance channel turn left at the 'OC' marker and paddle North up the Waterway Coast of Virginia (WCV) and Ramshorn Channel. This paddle is highlighted by fringe marshes and salt marsh islands frequented by many species of shore birds and wading birds. Be aware of the tidal flats that are exposed throughout this area at Low Tide. As you paddle North, follow the WCV channel markers. At marker #207 you will head Right (East) through The Ramshorn and The Deeps. There are many side creeks here and it is important to be aware of the channel location at all times. The main channel is well marked for navigation, but not all side creeks are navigable at all times, and not all side creeks return to the main channel. As you pass marker #193 look to the North-Northeast (Left and out toward the open water) for marker #11. Paddle toward marker #11 and then continue toward marker #12 and so forth as they lead up the Great Machipongo Channel. After passing marker #18 continue West Northwest toward marker #1. Do not turn North toward marker #181 in the North Channel. After passing marker #1 continue Up the channel. At channel marker #6 turn Left and continue up Castle Ridge Creek up to Red Bank boat ramp.

Oyster Harbor - advanced route - Oyster to Red Bank

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Wreck Island Natural Area Preserve

 

Route Description:

It is highly recommended that paddlers attempting this trip consult local outfitters for current information, and plan their trip in accordance with the tidal cycles.

Launch at the Oyster Harbor boat ramp. As you paddle out of the harbor, please stay out of the main channel in order to avoid boat traffic. As you paddle past channel marker #5 look toward you right (East) for marker #231. Paddle East toward marker #231 and continue toward marker #232. Make a slight left and paddle East-Northeast toward marker #9. This will put you in Sand Shoal Channel. Stay toward the right (South) side of this channel in order to take advantage of the shelter offered by Mockhorn Island and Man and Boy Marsh, and to avoid boat traffic. This channel is very deep and can get quite rough. This trip may not be passable in all conditions. Follow the channel markers East out of Sand Shoal Channel until you see marker #3. At this point Wreck Island is visible to the East and South. You will want to land on the inside of the point on Wreck Island. The island is available for landing on a seasonal basis and permission should be sought from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. Do not paddle out through the inlet to the outside of Wreck Island. This water is very treacherous in all conditions. Camping is not allowed on Wreck Island. You will need to return to the launch site by retracing your route.

Note: Wreck Island is a beautiful example of the Seaside Barrier Islands on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, but this paddling trip should only be attempted in ideal conditions by Advanced paddlers.

Oyster Harbor - advanced route - Wreck Island

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All route maps provided on the Virginia Seaside Water Trail web site are for illustration only. They are not intended for navigational use. To obtain a nautical map for this route, visit NOAA navigation charts.

Please check the land ownership and visitation policies map before your trip! Virginia's barrier islands, wildlife refuges and state wildlife management areas contain very sensitive wildlife habitat. Seasonal or year-round closures are in effect.

TRAIL MAP KEY - Please review and take along with your trail route map.

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000


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