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
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 VA side of the Potomac 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 Potomac.
Parking is very limited on the VA 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 and the Harpers Ferry
Adventure Center has a flat fee for the use of their take-out and parking. The whole parking and
traffic situation on the VA 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
Shenandoah. This is a longer and somewhat more interesting run, but it's up less
frequently, especially in the summer.
StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-11-09 16:00:05