Cabin John Creek, Maryland, US
River Road to Potomac
||II-III (for normal flows)
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 donÂt go under the Canal unless you are sure you can get
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.
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Last Updated: 2008-04-09 19:40:18