Goose Creek, Virginia, US
|Usual Difficulty||I-II(III) (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||9 fpm|
|Max Gradient||9 fpm|
|GOOSE CREEK NEAR LEESBURG, VA|
|usgs-01644000||2.00 - 4.00 ft||I-II(III)||01h03m||5.05 ft (too high)|
This stream has changed quite a bit in the past 10 years. After 9/11 security measures now prevent you from putting in at the Fairfax City Reservoir Dam, and Loudoun County has put in a new kayak and canoe launch in the Belmont Ridge neighborhood called Kephart Bridge Landing which is at 43942 Riverfront Drive Leesburg, VA 20176. This new takeout saves you the long (6 mile) flatwater paddle to the old takeout at Algonkian Park on the Potomac
You now have only a few options for put-ins on this section, the first being the half-mile carry
on the Washington and Old Dominion trail from the Belmont Ridge Road parking area, or at
"Keep Loudoun Beautiful Park" which is located next to the Goose Creek Countryclub golf
course off of Route 7 and Crosstrail Boulevard. The old option of parking on Cochran Mill Rd and
carrying on the W&OD trail is no longer available as the former parking areas have been
either walled off or posted. If you choose to put in at the W&OD trail, walk over the
bridge which crosses Goose Creek and head down the equestrian trail on your right at the
information kiosk and picnic tables. Instead of heading right after passing through the line of
trees, continue walking straight (perpendicular to the W&OD trail) and you will come to
Sycolin Creek which flows into Goose Creek a few hundred feet down its course. Sycolin offers
much better opportunities for launching just upstream of the confluence with Goose Creek as the
banks are lower, and an area with a collection of small boulders in the stream offers superior
stability to the muddy and steep banks of the Goose. If you choose to put in at the launch at
Keep Loudoun Beautiful Park, you will have to paddle the long pool up-stream to reach "Golf
Course" rapid (Cooke's Mill) and then carry up the river left bank next to the mill and
locks to run the rapid itself. Keep Loudoun Beautiful Park can also act as a takeout for those
who only want to run the rock garden just below Sycolin Creek confluence and Golf Course
The run from the W&OD Trail is only 2.7 miles to Kephart Landing which is the best takeout for this section of the river. The run consists mainly of mild rapids with stretches of flatwater in between. There are 5 rapids on the run, a class I rock garden just below the confluence with Sycolin Creek which is best run left of center, "Golf Course" rapid (Cooke's Mill) a Class III at normal flows and III+ in levels above 3.5' which can be run on the right by intermediate or higher skilled paddlers or on the left by shepherded novices, another Class I rock garden under the Route 7 bridge, a Class II+ mill dam (Elizabeth's Mill) which can easily be run by all levels either left or right of center after the Riverside Parkway bridge, and a Class II rock garden (Kephart Bridge) which is best run left of center with a nice sized hole and wave train at the end. The takeout at Kephart Landing is immediately on river right after the final rock garden with an easy eddie and backwater with great access to the shore line.
This quiet and uncrowded stream is a must for anyone who loves history as well as whitewater. Goose Creek is home to the remains of a 12 mile canal system built by the Little River and Goose Creek Navigation Company between 1849 and 1854. The canal stretched from the Potomac River at Elizabeth Mills all the way to Ball's Mill (now Evergreen Mills) but low water and drought meant that only one boat ever ran the entire length of the system. The canal's final undoing was the sacking and destruction of the various mills and locks along its length by Union soldiers during the civil war. The ruins can still be seen along the entire watercourse with some of the best examples being the dam and locks at Cooke's Mill (Golf Course Rapid) and Elizabeth's Mill (Old Mill Dam Rapid). Remains of the locks and the bridge that spanned Goose Creek on the famous "Carolina Road" which has since been moved and re-named US-15.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.0||Sycolin Creek Put In||N/A|
|0.0||Sycolin Creek Rock Garden||I|
|0.5||Golf Course Rapids (Cooke's Mill)||III|
|1.3||Keep Loudon Beautiful Park||N/A|
|1.4||Route 7 Bridge Rapid||N/A|
|2.0||Old Mill Dam (Elizabeth's Mill)||II+|
|2.7||Kephart Bridge Landing||N/A|
Put in on Sycolin Creek just off of the equestrian trail on the W&OD trail.
A straight-forward Class I rock garden best run from river left of center to center or river right. Scraping is expected at flows below 2.10 feet on the Leesburg gauge and it becomes washed out at levels above 3.5 feet.
A lower class III at 2-2.5' that quickly becomes a strong III at higher levels. Novices should scout from river left by the old locks and mill race of Cooke's Mill. Paddlers of lower skill can sneak this rapid on the left without much trouble and only a few bumps. More skilled paddlers will find the river-right route over three drops into decent sized holes will be farm more fun and challenging. The final hole offers excellent play and surfing opportunities.
This is one of the alternate put-in/take-out points of this trip. Loudon county states that there is a kayak launch here. I've never used it personally, but have met people on Goose Creek that have.
This is a simple and straight forward cobble bar with a few small boulders sticking up. It sits directly underneath the old truss bridge and the modern route 7 bridge. Run river left in low water to avoid scraping on rocks that have rolled down from the bridge abutments.
The old mill dam to historic Elizabeth's Mill who's mill race and wheelhouse remains still stand on the river right bank. This dam is easily run by all paddlers either left or right of center. The right of center run offers the best play hole of this rapid as the center portion of the dam creates an excellent eddy for upstream ferrying.
A basic rock garden with easy to read lines. Best run river left at normal flows to avoid the rocky river right bank. There is a nice sized hole guaranteed to get you wet at the bottom. Remember to eddy out on river right after this rapid for the Kephart Bridge Landing take-out.
This is the best takeout for the trip. Unless you decide to continue down to Algonkian Park or across the potomac to Edwards Ferry, this is where you want to take out to avoide long flat-water paddles. You'll know you're there when you exit the final rock garden and see the man-made stone bridge abutment on the river right. The remains of the original 1 mile long lock to Elizabeth's Mill are still visible here. It's a short (100 foot) walk to the parking lot on a wood-chip path.