Potomac, Maryland, US/Virginia, US
|Usual Difficulty||V+ (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||100 fpm|
|Max Gradient||500 fpm|
|POTOMAC RIVER NEAR WASH, DC LITTLE FALLS PUMP STA|
|usgs-01646500||2.80 - 3.70 ft||V+||01h19m||4.36 ft (too high)|
|U-hole is stout. The Spout has been run at some high levels on the right, and the Crack line has been done up to about 4 feet.|
Maryland Side - Paddlers may put in anywhere on the Maryland shore, but may not leave the boardwalk across Olmstead Island. To run the Falls from the Maryland side, most people put in above and run the aqueduct dam, or put in below the dam at higher levels.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
Negotiate the small ledges and rocks at the top, then either slide down the left or boof off the center. There's also a high-water sneak on the right called Norman's Leap. The rock shelf protruding from the left bank below the drop is slightly undercut.
Peel out from the river left cove, boof right off an angled ledge, and ride the roller coaster down. A short pool separates S-Turn from the Spout, with a convenient staging eddy on the right.
The Spout is the tallest individual drop in Great Falls. The standard line is to drive hard left across the lip and do a delayed boof. The hole becomes really powerful above 3.1, and a rock behind the curtain (Big Toe) becomes exposed below 2.8.
Many people now prefer the right line (Class 5.1) which involves boofing onto a rock shelf jutting out from shore. It looks ugly but runs pretty smooth. Skipping off the shelf is actually softer on your back than landing in the green water on the left.
The Crack (Class 5.2) is a high-water (3.3 < LF < 3.70) alternate line to the Spout. It requires you to ferry across powerful current and hit a boat-width slot at full speed. If you miss the slot, or get rejected by the boils guarding it, you will wash over the Spout backwards and get destroyed.