Cabin John Creek - River Road to Potomac

Cabin John Creek, Maryland, US


River Road to Potomac

Usual Difficulty II-III (for normal flows)
Length 2.6 Miles
Avg. Gradient 37 fpm
Max Gradient 80 fpm

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-01648000 325 - 2000 cfs II-III 00h32m 18.9 cfs (too low)

River Description

This is the best section of Cabin John Creek, and it is an excellent paddle. The first half a mile has frequent class IIs, alongside first River Road and then Seven Locks Road. There is one island a few hundred yards below River Road; the left channel has more water. Where the creek turns sharply left and passes below Seven Locks Road, just past the pipe that spews out an uninviting brown waterfall, there is a short but bouncy class II+ drop, best run on the far left. The rapids then ease up to class II-, for the middle third of the trip. The creek passes beneath the Beltway, and Booze Creek enters soon afterwards, through a garishly-grafittied tunnel under Cabin John Parkway. Then, as Cabin John Creek enters an attractive semi-gorge, the gradient and rapids pick up. For a half mile there is one long class II+ or III- rock garden after another, with one solid class III. And there are lots of good surfing waves and holes.
Take out on river left just before the culvert under the C&O Canal, after passing beneath Macarthur Boulevard, Cabin John Parkway and Clara Barton Parkway, and drag your boat up the wide grassy slope to the small gravel area on the shoulder of Clara Barton Parkway. (Alternatively, you can paddle under the C&O Canal -- if the water is not too high -- and a quarter mile down to the Potomac, and take out a mile downstream at Sycamore Island, but this results in a much longer and steeper carry. Also, there is about 6 inches less clearance on the downstream side of the culvert than on the upstream, so don’t go under the Canal unless you are sure you can get out!)
To shorten the shuttle and avoid a possible ticket for illegal parking, leave your car in the large parking area on Macarthur Boulevard just east of the single-lane bridge over Cabin John Creek. From the Canal take out, follow the wide grassy trail under Clara Barton Parkway, and, a quarter mile later, up the stairs to Macarthur Boulevard.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2008-04-09 19:40:18


Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

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