The Middle Branch may have become Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, had the city’s early history gone a little differently. And thankfully it didn’t, because today the Middle Branch boasts peace and serenity on long stretches of urban waterfront, a post-industrial haven for fish and bird life—and a destination for precious few paddlers in kayaks and canoes. We’ve spied a few on occasion, gunk-holing up by the Bresco trash incinerator where the Gwynns Falls enters the river, or poking around the derelict submerged piers of Masonville, or gliding in or out with the tide where the Patapsco’s Main Branch heads upstream toward Howard County. But only on occasion. And it’s surprising, really, since putting in is simple—a public beach on a spit of land known as Ferry Bar, right next to the Wal-Mart at Port Covington, gives easy access. Other boat traffic is light, reducing the anxiety level often experienced when trying to negotiate the Inner Harbor, with its many weekend-warrior yachters and own-the-road water taxis. Better hurry, though, because developers have plans for this waterfront. It’s not going to stay overlooked for long, and paddlers, with their shallow-draft and highly maneuverable crafts, have the first dibs on exploring such territory from the water.