Laurel Run - Laurel Run

Laurel Run, Maryland, US


Laurel Run

Usual Difficulty IV (for normal flows)
Length 1.75 Miles
Avg. Gradient 275 fpm
Max Gradient 300 fpm

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-01595500 6.50 - 10.00 ft IV 01h01m 2.95 ft (too low)

River Description

Laurel Run - From Potomac State Forest to N. Branch of the Potomac below Rattlesnake

1.6 miles 360 feet of drop

7 major rapids/drops

Rating: IV/IV+ ( IV+ in high water)

How to get there:

From Loch Lynn, MD (just east of Oakland) Turn at light go across RR and turn Left at the stop sign going South toward Gormania. A few miles down the Road turn left onto White Church Road (there is a sign for a Methodist Church camp) go back until the road makes two sharp 90 degree turns at the second go straight on the turn. Follow this road (still paved but not as nice as the road you just left) until you pass a sign saying end county road maintenance stay to the left as the road turns to gravel. Continue down hill (that little stream on the left is Laurel Run) stay to the left at the next Y as you travel down hill you will see the stream get bigger on your left. When you get to the bridge your at the put-in (you can put in hire if you like). Follow the road until it ends and you at Think-Twice, this is where you park the car for the take out.

Overview of Run

Laurel Run is a small micro creek tributary to the N. Branch of the Potomac. This seldom run creek is located in Potomac State Forest with the unique benefit of roadside access that was established by the replacement of a bridge in 2002. The last three rapids/drops where run prior to 2000 by at least a few paddlers who had seen the drops from the N. Branch of the Potomac at high water and walked up to run them. However the full first decent was completed in May of 2000, by Shannon Mullen and Nathan Blatchley. Since then it has been run only a couple other times but some observations of water levels has resulted in a rough correlation to predict when it would be runnable when the N. Branch is over 5 ft and rising or over 6.5 ft regardless of direction.

The run is very small, so groups of more than 4 boats are strongly discouraged (three is better). Also there is frequently wood on the run so take the time to drive along river and identify potential problems. It is a good time to look at some of the major drops including Slip-and-Slide (IV+), Hole (IV), Amphitheatre (III+), Appletree Falls (IV), Rooster Tail (IV), and Bear Left (IV+).

StreamTeam Status: Verified
Last Updated: 2007-01-30 13:33:05


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
1.7Bear LeftIVPhoto

Rapid Descriptions

Bear Left (Class IV, Mile 1.7)

Bear Left

Bear Left
Photo by Nathan Blatchley

Bear Left is a slide which slops left to right depositing you into the right back at high speeds (causing a very unceremonious halt to your momentum) if you just ride out the drop. Instead as you move from left to right over the first half of the slide slowly turn your boat to the left so you can bear left at the bottom of the drop. You can see the Potomac from the top of the last drop less than 100 feet down stream. Laurel Run drops 45-50 feet in the last three drops. Despite some undercuts in bad spots, one of the nice things about Laurel run is that almost all of the rocks and ledges point downstream. If even one quarter of the key rocks pointed upstream this would be a solid V run. But with guaranteed wood in places where it makes things dicey this run is IV+ at any level above minimum.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
February 2 2008 (4001 days ago)
x (1)
Robert Farmer---I seem to recall that one of the street names is Audley Riley or Audley Murphy or
January 30 2007 (4369 days ago)
Nathan BlatchleyDetails
The road that services this run is not plowed and doesn't get much light so is likely to be snow
and ice covered from December through late March. It schould be accessible by vehicles from April -
late November only. The rest of the time will rquire some hiking in and out.