Gunpowder Falls, Maryland, US
|Usual Difficulty||I-III (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||10 fpm|
|Max Gradient||40 fpm|
|GUNPOWDER FALLS NEAR PARKTON, MD|
|usgs-01581920||88 - 900 cfs||I-III||00h27m||177 cfs (running)|
Currently, my descriptions are limited to the section from Prettyboy Reservoir to Falls Road (1.5
miles). To date, I have not made the run from Falls Road to Phoenix Road (15 miles). I may
consider breaking these two sections up, since they are most often run as individual
The runs were broken up by the regional streamkeeper in April 2004
Prettyboy Reservoir to Falls Road Bridge
Very difficult to put in at the Prettyboy Dam, due to the 100 ft canyon walls and the fact that reservoir personnel frown upon it. I typically put in approximately 0.5 miles downstream of Prettyboy Reservoir. This putin is located approximately 0.5 miles south of the takeout bridge where Falls Road crosses the Gunpowder. When you cross the bridge coming from the North or river left side of the bridge, continue 0.5 miles up the hill. At the crest of the hill on the right side is a small parking area. There is a gated fire road entrance. Follow the fire road until it bears to the right; it then turns into a foot trail. From the gate to the water is approximately a 0.5 mile hike, all downhill. The hike is not bad and the trail is not very steep.
The takeout is at the Falls Road bridge, either upstream or downstrream of the bridge on river right. Do not park at the takeout itself. There is a parking lot approximately 1/8 mile up the hill on the right hand side as you walk South on Falls Road. You should have passed it on your way to the Put In.
The first 0.25 mile is Class I-II warmups. The next mile is Class III. The last 0.25 mile is Class I-II.
You need to watch out for Strainers and Fishermen on this stretch. This creek is not very wide, and very popular with fishermen. If possible, try to stay behind them. So be respectful and friendly in order to to keep this run open.
Reference Maryland and Delaware Canoe Trails, by Ed Gertler, for more details on this section.
Ed Evangelidi testifies:
No question that the short whitewater stretch is also the prettiest part of the run. However, on a hot summer day, it is hard to beat the rest of the run [running down to Big Falls, Blue Mont or Monkton Rds.]. It takes less water to negotiate the shallow spots here and it is in a pretty state park from Falls Road to Big Falls Road. Then comes a stretch through an active quarry with man made Class 2 rapids and finally a very long stretch of fairly easy water but with bikers whizzing by on a nearby bike path and floating tuber congestion in season. The confluence of the creek and Little Falls has a great swimming hole on river left where the cold Gunpowder water mixes with the warmer tributary.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
As of January 2018 a log jam of large tree trunks have blocked the left and center of this rapid. Until this wood jam clears, there is a nice slot on the far right that avoids this wood. Stay Right
1 ft drop off a river wide ledge. There's a little "Z" runout on river left that might look tempting, but is too tight to be anything but trouble most of the time. Just take the plunge off the ledge.
First drop stay center, second at bottom hit a rock (at lower levels) then (at all levels) make a sharp right turn; at the third drop go center again with a little left angle. Eddy to left.
The name "Chainsaw" does not describe anything about the rapid, but refers to a legendary and unfortunate incident that is not to be discussed here. Because the right and center of the rapid collects wood, at the top of the rapid, stay to far left. Then when as far left as possible you're forced to turn right against the left shore. Make the turn and take a drop and miss vertical log that is slightly left of center. Because it happens fast just keep going past the log -- usually to the right because that's where you are. You can also go to the left of the log, if that's where you are. Just don't panic and hit the log. The line is mostly the same at higher water, except there's more power in the turn against the left shore, but there's more manuvering room in the turn and the higher it is, the more you'd need to be right of the log.
Three chutes, left, right & center. Most run either left or right chutes. Left chute is a straight narrow drop. Right chute - start right, make a shallow left turn to avoid slanting rock on river right side which will flip you if you get under it and lean away from it. Center chute is a sloping slide down the rock at lower water, more of an option with more water. Eddy to left.
This rapid is runnable left at all levels. Eddies far left and a surf hole center and left bottom at 250cfs and up. Attainment at all levels at the bottom.
This rapid consists of a low ledge covering river left to middle with a notch in the left side and a tongue to the right. Good side surfing at minimal Levels and an actual play spot at 280 cfs +. The river right tongue is a straight chute with a possible attainment at mid levels.
This rapid consists of a low rocky chute to boogie water at lower levels. At lower water, if too far left, the chute shoals out; if too far right there's a risk of a surprise. Best run left center. Above 230 cfs it’s a straight shot (not rocky) At 280 is where it becomes a play spot. Washes out at higher levels.
There is a blind turn behind the rock that looks like it's going to be a rapid, but it's just a moving water turn.