Anacostia, Northwest Branch - US Rte 29 to Riggs Road

Anacostia, Northwest Branch, Maryland, US


US Rte 29 to Riggs Road

Usual Difficulty I-III(V+) (varies with level)
Length 3.5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 25 fpm

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-01650500 50 - 5000 cfs I-III(V+) 00h19m 21.8 cfs (too low)

River Description

From just below the dam, this trip starts off with a long Class-III rapid that includes a pair of tricky drops. Virtually all paddlers then eddy out on river left, about 50 yards below the US 29 bridge, and portage the Class 5.1 "Great Falls of the Anacostia" (a.k.a. the "Colesville Cruncher"), of which Theodore Roosevelt wrote: "Excepting Great Falls, it is the most beautiful place around here." A parking area for the M-NCPPC's Burnt Mills Park has replaced the former contaminated-water dump there. Climb carefully on the rocks to see the water cascade through the huge boulders, in four distinct drops totaling some 20 feet. You also need to do some climbing on the 100-yard portage trail high on river left.
Depending on water and skill level, you can put back in above or below the final 4-foot (class IV-) chute; the drop itself is not as hard as the ferry to get lined up for it. There is a long Class II+ rapid just below the falls, and the water then calms down until the class III Beltway Rapids. After that, there are occasional class II ledges all the way to Riggs Road, and the take out at Adelphi Mills.

Lat/longitude coords are approximate, from TopoZone.

Ed Evangelidi testifies:
The local park police will ticket you if you run this creek as the MNCPPC has rules against boating any stream under their jurisdiction. Note a usually unrunnable rapid just below the putin that is carried on the left and, if you continue below Riggs Road, a very dangerous dam below Agar Rd. that should be carried. There is a bike trail that follows the creek and allows for easy scouting. Note that the creek is also runnable well upstream (Class I) and downstream (tidal).
StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2009-03-19 12:40:27


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.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
June 1 2012 (2426 days ago)
Peter AbelesDetails
Yeah the directions appear to be a bit off. Here is the dam,-77.005931&spn=0.003492,0.008256
November 8 2010 (2997 days ago)
nicklipkowski (152586)
Can the stream keeper please correct the map and directions? The map indicates the put in on Sligo
Creek! If necessary please reply to Thank you.
March 9 2007 (4337 days ago)
George BrewerDetails
This is a very disgusting section of water to paddle. ive scouted it at lower levels twice and the
trash in the water is repulsive. It smells like sewer and as one of my non kayaking friends put it,
"looks like theres aids in the water." However if you can put up with this it is worth a paddle (a
vey short paddle) For starters run the colesville road damn a couple times (cheap thrill and best
run river left.) Procceed under the bridge when ever your ready. There will be a 3 or four foot
drop coming up ( i dont remember the best line, so be sure to scout) after that little drop the
stram makes an abrupt change. The only way to get a sence of how weird a rapid this is, is to watch
the video in the link from the other user.
May 12 2004 (5368 days ago)
From the Luke Hopkins page:

From there we drove only a few exits away to the Colesville exit on route 29 and headed north.
After about a mile, 29 will cross a creek, which is the North Branch of the Anacostia River. Once
crossing the river, park in the parking lot on the right. This is the put-in and take-out for a
really fun run that is a section of the North Branch called the Colesville Crusher. From the
parking lot you can walk upstream and cross back over route 29 with your boat and continue upstream
for another 100 yards or so.

This is the best part, here you can put in above the world easiest 20-foot high drop. Check out the
video of this drop below, "PutInDrop". The drop is about 60 feet wide and is a man made
dam that has a lip at the bottom that kicks you out and you will ski across the pool. Greg even ran
the drop backwards. We ran the drop a number of times and it was really fun to say the least. After
that drop the river goes under the rt. 29 bridge. The next drop is about a 100 yards past the
bridge and is about 6 feet tall, and is probably best run on the left. Following that drop about
100 yards further down stream is the pinnacle of the Colesville Crusher run and is the only class
V+ rapid. The rapid is about 50 yards long and starts with entrance splish splash and then a 4-5
foot ledge, which is then followed by a another ledge that is a couple of feet, and then the big
squeeze move. This is where I got worked and Greg got pin balled. The level on the USGS North
Branch gauge on the Anacostia was 2.0 feet.

The river necks down and drops about 10 feet through a slot that at the bottom and is only about 2
feet wide. I went down first and probed the right line. Half way down the drop I hit the main seam
in the slot and mystery moved (disappeared) and came up at the bottom upside down. It wasn't over
yet because then I hit the wall just down stream which the whole river plows into and got stuck
there for a second. Then I came off that and rolled up. Pretty much I got a marginal crushing.
After seeing that line Greg ran the rapid a little left of the seam that got me and deflected off a
rock under the surface on the right and then soared over and deflected off the wall on the right,
and then landed at the bottom. His line was like a pinball and probably was the best line possible.
The video below called "Colesville Crux" show my beating and Greg getting pin balled by
the walls.

The last rapid we ran was a sweet 5-6 foot boof with a shallow landing. It was a fun rapid also. If
you live in the DC area and the creeks are running this is fun place to paddle and the put-in water
fall/dam is like an amusement park.