Antietam Creek - 3) Hwy.34 to Potomac River

Antietam Creek, Maryland, US


3) Hwy.34 to Potomac River

Usual Difficulty I-II (for normal flows)
Length 5.75 Miles
Avg. Gradient 7 fpm

Antietam Creek

Antietam Creek
Photo of Colleen Davies, under the careful tutelage of Jedi master, Oci-One Kanubi, making her first open-boat descent of the dam below Burnside Bridge by Brenda Dinne, Monocacy Canoe Club

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-01619500 2.50 - 7.00 ft I-II 00h32m 4.11 ft (running)

River Description

STRAINER WARNING: As of January, 2004, boaters were reporting a logjam at the bridge directly below Furnace Rapid, the last Class II drop before the confluence with the Potomac River. Scouting is advised, but the logjam was reported to be passable on the far right and far left.


Antietam Creek is a great Class I-II run through beautiful natural scenery and the historic Antietam civil war battlefield park.

located southeast of Hagerstown, MD.
Putin at the Rt. 34 bridge (downstream side; river left) between Keedysville and Sharpsburg.
Takeout on the Potomac River at the C&O Canal camprgound located just upstream of the creek's confluence with the river. 

An excellent website for the creek is maintained by Antietam Creek Canoe Co..


This section is primarily characterized by Class I-II water with rapids created by dam ruins and sharp, tight turns on this narrow creek. Spring-fed, it holds water longer than other small streams in the area and is the last to freeze and first to thaw. Practiced novice boaters should be able to handle the rapids but watch out for downed trees, which can pose serious hazards on this tree-lined run.

Landing at the historic Burnside Bridge at the Antietam battlefield is prohibited by the National Park Service. Below the bridge is an intact dam/weir that provides a two foot drop and bump. It is best run a little left of center.  About 50 yards below the dam there is a landing on river left if you'd like to visit the battlefield site.  The long middle part of the run consists of Class I moving water:  shoals, eddys, small chutes and occasional strainers.  Near the end of the run the gradient picks up as you approach the Potomac River.  

The last rapid - Furnace Rapids - is a long Class II that can be scouted on the left. Immediately below is a bridge where an old but now closed takeout point was located. Continue down the Potomac River and paddle upstream to the takeout.

Shorter or longer trips can be made on this creek, but some of the bridge crossings other than at Rt 34 and at the C&O Canal park have historic preservation and/or landowner access issues.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-05-13 16:49:51


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.
July 12 2018 (193 days ago)
PaddleMe69 (160143)
Went down this section on June 16th, 2018. Noticed that a large metal canoe had sunk and wrapped
around a rock about a mile and a half before the takeout, creating a new rapid, now dubbed "Manard
June 7 2016 (958 days ago)
jwalksaab (158287)
Ran it on 28 and 29 May: some hazards but easy mostly obvious and easy to avoid. Take the dam all
the way to the left.
April 5 2014 (1752 days ago)
gnarbuckle (156372)
Strainer at one lane bridge just before the take out. A large tree is river center 10 yards
upstream of the center bridge post. This is at the end of the longest, most difficult rapid on the
river. Beginners take note! Good lines.
April 8 2013 (2114 days ago)
Kelly KowalskiDetails
04/08/2013 - KellyK: new wood below Molly's Hole, two separate areas. Gauge that day was 3 ft/320
cfs. Our run began at Rt. 34 and through to Molly's Hole the river was clear. About 1/2 mile below
Molly's Hole in a deeper section of flatwater there is a large strainer river wide all the way.
This large tree sits above the water line a few feet at this point. We all kayaked easily
underneath the big tree with about a foot or more of space above our heads to the bottom of tree.
The banks along here are steep and no real area for takeout but the river is not usually running
fast here. Be careful at higher levels. Anything over 3.30 ft or so could end up being more
difficult to get under the tree. Last strainer is at a Class 1 to 1+ rapid that is the last rapid
before you reach Ironworks rapid, where river flows from river right to river left and then back to
slight river right again. Lots of new wood in this rapid. Directly within the first little wave
train is a tree and then as you turn following current toward river center/right there is another
smaller strainer in the last part of rapid. At this level, one can boat staying in river center or
center left and miss first strainer and can still stay river center to avoid the second strainer
but this will become more of an issue as the level goes down. The second strainer is right where
boats have to run when creek gets shallower. The rest of creek was clear from this point on.
Ironworks rapid was clear and no debris at Harpers Ferry Road bridge.
July 3 2011 (2759 days ago)
Colin AbernethyDetails
The previously mentioned river-wide strainer below Burnside has been removed, however there is
still a TON of wood on this stream right now. Both the Keedysville Rd bridge and the Rte 34 bridge
have massive log jams blocking most of the usual channels. Keedysville bridge is blocked on all but
the extreme right passage, and the Rte 34 bridge is blocked in the middle. The left channel has
some strainers in it that are avoidable, but the gravel beds downstream before the next rapid will
give you fits if you go that way, stay to the right under both bridges. Below Keedysville Rd Bridge
where the river makes a sharp bend to the right, there is a strainer/tree across the entire creek.
It is passable over the middle where the trunk dips under the surface of the river, but only at or
above 2.7' Anything lower and you WILL need to carry on river right. The only way I made it over
today was by hitting the low-spot at full speed with my bow popped up. We ran today at 2.65-2.7'
from Devil's Backbone down to Burnside Bridge and it was very scrape-y. Recommend at least 2.8' for
a scrape-free run.
May 30 2011 (2793 days ago)
dfirman0 (153146)
Ran this today and there is a huge river wide strainer after the first dam below Burnside Bridge.
It is passable on the extreme left, but it is a narrow gap. Be Careful !!!
May 5 2011 (2818 days ago)
enolakardia (153058)
Colin has it right, Ran this on 5/1/2011 and there were no strainers. The river is moving along
really well right now, and I would factor on about 2/3 of the normal trip time. Most of the normal
stopping points are underwater right now. Make sure you check out this link to the antietam creek
canoe club. This map shows exactly what to expect.
April 10 2011 (2843 days ago)
Colin AbernethyDetails
Ran today at 3.22' from Devil's Backbone down to the Potomac take-out. Minor wood accumulation on
piers at Keedysville Rd. and Rte. 34 bridges, but easily noticed with clear channels on either
side. Great beginner/novice run w/ good surfing at dam below Burnside Bridge. Furnace rapid was a
March 22 2011 (2862 days ago)
Shane HollisDetails
No new wood 3-20-2011.