Gwynns Falls - 2) Gwynn Oak Ave. to Wilkens Ave (US 1)

Gwynns Falls, Maryland, US


2) Gwynn Oak Ave. to Wilkens Ave (US 1)

Usual Difficulty II-III(IV) (for normal flows)
Length 5.6 Miles
Avg. Gradient 45 fpm
Max Gradient 150 fpm

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-01589300 150 - 500 cfs II-III(IV) 00h16m 14.3 cfs (too low)

River Description

This long and challenging trip would be outstanding were it not for the water quality and the visible trash (including plastic growing on the trees), which undermines the otherwise pleasant parkland scenery. The first mile, to Forest Park Avenue, starts off class II-, but gradually steepens to class III-. This section can be scouted from Purnell Drive on the north (where you can park to put in) and Cedar and Pickwick Drives on the south. Below Forest Park Avenue, by the restored mill town of Dickeysville, a 10-foot dam must be portaged. The class II-III rapids then resume, and two-thirds of a mile after the dam comes a tricky class III at the bottom of a long rock garden. This section can be scouted from Wetheredsville Road. Dead Run enters from the right midway through the trip, marked by a pair of small ledges. Three-fourths of a mile later, at Hilton Street, some apparently untreated sewerage seeps in from the left. Shortly below, the creek braids; the left channel has a class III- ending.
In another half mile, the stream flows below Edmondson Avenue (US 40), and you need to be alert. First, there is an iron pipe across the creek, at the end of a short straight section. Scout from the eddy on the right. In very low water you can slip beneath it; otherwise, portage on the right. Then, 200 yards below, is Gwynns Falls, a five-foot drop. In low water, you can scout from the rock ledge in the middle. The right channel is precipitous, with unseen shallow rocks just below that make this short drop a class IV-, while the left chute is a very narrow and twisty class IV. A short portage over the middle ledge is often the best alternative, especially given the water quality. This is followed immediately by a delightful class III rock garden, and soon thereafter by a four-foot, class III ledge (easiest on the right, in low water), followed by a long class II rock garden that continues down to W. Baltimore St. Below, the gradient eases up, although there are still some easy rapids, including one nice wave train. Take out by the park on river right upstream of the Wilkins Avenue (US 1) bridge; park on the street.
You could continue another mile to the Gwynns Falls Trailhead parking area by the Carroll Park Golf Course, just off Washington Boulevard, but neither the gradient (20 ft/mile) nor the scenery (awful) justify that. Below Washington Boulevard, Gwynns Falls is tidal for its final two miles, before entering the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River estuary, 1.5 miles southwest of the mouth of Jones Falls, and 1.5 miles northwest of the mouth of the flowing Patapsco River.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-07-18 13:18:30


Rapid Descriptions

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