Brandywine Creek - Thompson Bridge Road to Market Street

Brandywine Creek, Delaware, US


Thompson Bridge Road to Market Street

Usual Difficulty III (for normal flows)
Length 8 Miles
Avg. Gradient 20 fpm

Brandywine Creek @ Brecks Mill

Brandywine Creek @ Brecks Mill
Photo of Breck's Mill 13' by Bill Theilacker @ 13'

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Brandywine Creek at Chadds Ford, PA
usgs-01481000 2.00 - 4.00 ft III 00h21m 7.06 ft (too high)

River Description

The Brandywine drops over the fall line on this very historic stretch. Unfortunately, the vibe is spoiled by 12 dams, many of which need to be portaged.

Put in at the Brandywine State Park access on Rockland Rd. The first 1.5 miles are attractive flatwater with the Brandywine State Park on your right and Woodlawn Conservancy property on your left.

As you approach Rockland, there is a jagged sloping dam which can be run. I'd say it's about a 5 foot drop. There used to be a polluted paper mill here that has been rehabilitated into condos. You can also put in here.

After Rockland, you enter the Hagley Museum property, birthplace of the Dupont company. An incredible display of 19th century hydropower surrounds you, including dams, spillways, canals, the remains of gunpowder mills, and waterwheels and turbines that are still operational. Unfortunately the Hagley people are pretty paranoid so pull over in these beautiful surroundings at your own risk.

Continue into Wilmington and take out at Market St. downtown. About half of the dams on this section are sloping and runnable, the rest are vertical and dangerous. Maryland and Delaware Canoe Trails, Ed Gertler can give you further information about this reach.
StreamTeam Status: Verified
Last Updated: 2005-12-12 22:50:21

Rapid Descriptions

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User Comments

Users can submit comments.
June 12 2009 (3509 days ago)
x (1)
Another paddler lost his kayak minutes after this picture was taken. The wave-hole behind the big
wave was very sticky and unpredictable. As a fellow kayaker, I ran most of the dams and have no
intention of running the dams at any level in the future. Trashy, full of rebar , and very
dangerous to say the least. If you do decide to run them, scout them first and be ready for the
December 5 2008 (3698 days ago)
Tom HalladayDetails
The surf wave featured on the front page is NOT a realistic photo of what this creek is typically
like. Normally the water level is not even high enough to run the dams. A word of caution, some of
us WTC folks ran the Brandywine dams November 2008, even at just 2.75, some of the bigger dams'
boil lines were out 4+ feet, making them pretty dangerous. I would not recommend running the dams
without someone who has been through them, and strongly suggest foot scoutting the bigger dams from
shore first.
October 28 2008 (3736 days ago)
tucker deloachDetails
That looks like an epic surf wave! Can somebody tell me about it?
June 25 2008 (3861 days ago)
x (1)
This river is in my backyard, and I have run it numerous times. 3 ft. note Chadds Ford is a good
level for a run. The main Theme is the numerous dams: all of which are runnable at 3 ft. if you
know how to run them. Not a major destination but fun for locals. Ed. R.
March 27 2005 (5047 days ago)
Ran this on Saturday March 26, 2005. Level was 2.6. This run is pretty much flatwater & dams.
We ran all of the dams but three at this level. One more might have gone, but piton potential was
pretty high. Between the dams are perhaps 4 class 2 rock gardens. Scenery is a mix of pretty &
urban industrial. We took out at the zoo just above the listed takeout. This cut out one last dam
and another class 2 boulder garden. Many of the dams are pretty shallow - a flip would rip your
head off. Having done the run once, I'm in no hurry to do it again.