Short whitewater section of the Potomac, as the Potomac passes Harpers Ferry, popularly referred to as the "Needles."
3) (Dargans Bend) - A much longer paddle (including 2.5 miles of flatwater) is to put-in at Dargans Bend Boat Ramp on the Maryland side, where there is plenty of free parking (but alot of flatwater). After the flatwater there is a broken out Dam (Dam #3) that starts the Class II whitewater section.
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.
After the confluence, there is a set of Class II waves called Mad Dog Rapids, followed by a Class II+ (III at higher water) 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 (Sandy Hook) 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 trail crosses posted railroad property and involves crossing two sets of very active tracks. This once very popular takeout has been closed by the railroad.
The second takeout (Potomac Wayside) on the Virginia side immediately before the lower (MD) 340 bridge. There is space for loading and unloading here, but there are only three parking spaces where you can leave a car. Other parking options near Potoma Wayside are very limited and/or expensive. 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 VA side can be somewhat daunting because of the narrowness of the shoulder and the speed of the heavy two lane traffic.
Other take-outs include: "Weverton" which is 1 1/2 miles of flat and moving water downstream from the US 340 bridge on the Maryland side. This take-out is hard to see from the river and requires a long walk through the woods and down the tow-path, but it does have an authorized on foot at-grade Railroad crossing. The "Brunswick" take-out (also on the Maryland side) requires an additional 5 miles of paddling, with the last 3 1/2 miles consisting of flatwater; however, there is an authorized at-grade railroad crossing for vehicles and a boat ramp offers the convenience of easy access and close parking.
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.
Main channel is to the left. Lots of good play.
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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.
Many thanks those who have contributed to AW's Sang Run Access Fund on line. We raised over $1200 to pay for the porta potty and gravel. Thanks to you, we've maintained this site for the State of Maryland for over 20 years! Let's also give a special shout out to Don Millard, who has cut the grass in both Friendsville and Sang Run for many years to keep our access costs low. If not for him you might see a parking fee of $5 a head at both ends! Jeff Macklin Photo
Get your groove on baby! This year Gauley Fest is a 60’s themed event to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. To memorialize that historic event we are flashing back to another era for a 60’s throwdown. Started in 1983 to celebrate the derailment of a hydro-electric project that would have disrupted the flows on the Gauley River, Gauley Fest has grown to become the largest paddling festival in the world.
American Whitewater received the following open letter to boaters from the rangers and staff of the Gauley River National Recreation Area. This letter will keep you up to date on important management actions of the National Park Service on the Gauley River. Enjoy your paddling season on this classic whitewater river. As in past years, American Whitewater has leased the field above Masons Branch, also known as the Legg field, for overflow parking.
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.
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!