Potomac, West Virginia, US
Harpers Ferry - Dam #3 to Rt. 340 Bridge (Needles)
||II+ (for normal flows)
Needles, PotomacPhoto of Erik by Bernie Lager taken 2006
Short popular whitewater section of the Potomac in the vicinity of Harpers Ferry.
Two different putins are usually used. A short run can be had by proceeding up river from the Sandy
Hook, MD takeout to Lock 34 where the road turns away from the river. This is a short run, and
parking is very limited at this putin.
To do the full run, follow Rt. 340 upstream to Bakerton Rd., where there is a flea market on your
left. Turn right on Bakerton Rd. to where the road goes under a stone railroad bridge and make an
immediate right. This puts you several hundred yards above Dam #3.
Dam #3 is usually run from one of the middle chutes. Check to see they are clear.
The section below the dam to the confluence of the Shenandoah is referred to as Needles. It's a
Class II section of ledges under normal conditions. Caution should be used at higher water levels
and colder times of year because the width of the river here can make a spill difficult to recover
Harpers Ferry is located at the confluence of the Shenandoah and the Potomac. Putins and takeouts
are not allowed here except in emergencies.
After the confluence, there is a set of Class II waves called Mad Dog Rapids, followed by a Class
II+ set of larger irregular waves known as White Horse Rapids. There are also popular playspots
located among the rocks on river right.
The first takeout on the MD side is 1/2 mile downstream from the confluence of the Shenndoah River
on river left immediately before the US 340 bridge at Sandy Hook. To reach this takout from Rt.
340, take the last left as you approach the 340 bridge from the MD side, then take the first right
to the bottom of the hill where the road approaches the railroad tracks. The takeout is on posted
railroad property and involves crossing two sets of very active tracks. Despite its dubious
legality, this takeout is very popular.
You can also set your shuttle on the WV side of the 340 bridge. A popular short whitewater option
is to run between this bridge and the 340 bridge across the Shenandoah about a mile upstream. This
gives you access to the bottom of the Shenandoah Staircase Rapid as well as the playspots on the
Parking is very limited on the WV side of the 340 Potomac bridge and non-existent at the Shenandoah
340 bridge. An empty parking lot near the gas station is often utilized when it's not being used
for fireworks sales and other intermittent activities. The whole parking and traffic situation on
the WV side can be somewhat daunting because of the narrowness of the shoulder and the speed of the
heavy two lane traffic.
The same takeouts can also be used to run the Millville/Bull Falls/Staircase section of the
. This is a longer and somewhat more interesting run, but it's up less frequently,
especially in the summer.
StreamTeam Status: Verified
Last Updated: 2007-04-17 06:06:53