Short whitewater section of the Potomac, as the Potomac passes Harpers Ferry, popularly referred to as the "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 from.
Harpers Ferry is located at the confluence of the Shenandoah and the Potomac. Putins and takeouts are not allowed here except in emergencies. The Shenandoah comes in from river right towards the bottom of the run. The West Virginia/Virginia state line comes down the river right side ridge to the Potomac (the river itself is always Maryland), so from here, the river right side of the Potomac is in Virginia.
The same takeouts can also be used to run the Millville/Bull Falls/Staircase section of the Shenandoah. This is a longer and somewhat more interesting run, but there are times that low water levels would make the Potomac the better option.
Class II+ (III at higher water) set of larger irregular waves known as "White Horse" Rapids. Main channel is to the left. Lots of good play. There are also popular playspots ("Cogler's Hole," "100 Yard Dash," Dash's Hole," "Mouse Hole") located more in the river center or among the rocks on river right.
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I'm a new paddler, I have been in a kayak 4 times ever, and a friend is taking me down this Sunday as a first whitewater experience. I will make sure to let you know how it goes.
Anyone run this for 2011?
Curious if the potomac is back down there or not.
the riverside campling area and ramp at the end of Bakertion Rd just uppstream of Dam #3 in WV has been purchased by River Riders and was posted. The signs say No trespassing and that a $25 annual pass must be purchased to use the ramp/park. I called River Riders today they said the $25 fee allows for ramp access and parking for one vehicle and is good for the caledar year. The pass (a sticker) must be placed on your front bumper. They are in the process of developing a day pass - probably good for one vehicle - that you could purchase at the office off of Rt 340. They haven't printed them yet and official policy is not set. The person said that for now to call them ahead of time - they probably would be willing to allow day access (for a fee) even though the program is not in place yet.
The Harpers Ferry gauge is now off line(hello AW is anyone listening/) it is advisable to go to the railroad bridge and look at the gauge as using the Hancock gauge is not accurate.
All the outfitter's trips end on the other side of the river at that point. They don't run below the bridge.
The maximum for this should be raised....you can run the needles well into the double digits...highest ive ran it was at like 16-18 feet in a playboat.
There are some nice little surfing waves and holes right before the confluence with the Shenandoah. The hole in White Horse is a good surf but is impossible to reach from the eddies below the rapid at lower flows
The NWS sets bankfull stage at 24' and flood stage at 30' for the Hancock gauge.
The Shepherdstown, WV gauge can also be used. Min. 1.8, Max. 4.0
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
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Dam 3 Access
brian droping from squirt land
bottom hole of white horse
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
A local planning agency has championed a study of the Weverton access site just downstream of Harpers Ferry. This site is an important Potomac river put-in/takeout site for Shenandoah and Potomac River paddlers who have few access options in the area. At issue is an informal crossing of the two-track CSX railroad used by almost 27,000 paddlers, Appalachian Trail hikers, and visitors to the C&O Canal National Historical Park last year. The study outlines two options to formalize this access site and improve the safety of crossing the railroad tracks. Either option would be a big improvement, as would a standard road crossing, and paddlers are encouraged to submit a supportive comment by the June 15 deadline.
Over the past couple years American Whitewater has been working with regional paddlers, the National Park Service, and other interested folks to improve river access on the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers near Harpers Ferry, WV. One outcome of that effort has been recognition of the parking, access, and shuttle services the rafting outfitters in the area offer provide. The outfitters worked with private boaters to share a fact sheet of the various services they offer, which you can download.
Earlier this month American Whitewater and the National Park Service's Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program (RTCA) hosted a series of meetings and site visits in the Harper's Ferry, WV area. We met with roughly 35 interested groups and individuals, including 18 leaders from the paddling community, and visited over 20 river access sites. The meetings kicked off a collaborative effort to create and implement a river access Plan for the Harper's Ferry area, and were highly successful.
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