This is the delightful, classic Little Gunpowder trip. The first mile is an almost continuous rock garden, starting out class I-II and then adding a few class II and II+ bits. Then, in short succession, come a series of class III rapids. The first is a 3-4-foot ledge, easily boat scouted and best run in the middle at most levels. It is popular to carry back up and run it again. The next splits around an island, with the left side narrower and shallower. Then comes the Belko Factory Falls, a ragged 5-6-foot drop which can be scouted from the left and run on the right. The remaining class III- rapids, above the Franklintown Rd. bridge, are twisty rock gardens. Class II water then resumes, down to I-95. The final mile and a half has only a pair of class II rapids on either side of Philadelphia Road, a half-mile above the take out.
Early on, the trip features a covered bridge for the paddler to pass under. The surrounding woodlands are full of deer and quite pretty, except where buildings are close to the creek. You can park at the shopping center alongside the take out. If you continue below there, it is two flat miles to the big Gunpowder Falls, and then another mile to the Gunpowder River inlet.
Ed Evangelidi testifies:
This creek is quite flashy, so don't dawdle, or it might come down on you while you are running shuttle. It has more continuous rapids than on the <A Href="http://www.americanwhitewater.org/rivers/id/721/">Big Gunpowder</a> but they are not any harder. Also has a tamer section upstream.
Lat/longitude coords are approximate, from TopoZone.
Put-in is at the Jerusalem Mill Historic Area at the Jerusalem Rd. Little Gunpowder Falls bridge.
The river narrows, then sweeps out of sight (left-then right-then left); there is one small wave at mid-point (at end of right sweep – completely avoidable); be aware of overhanging branches – also, the shoals on the right or the river bank on left could collect strainers, which could be dangerous due to narrow nature of channel and the swiftness of the current at this point – at significantly higher levels the right side shoal might become covered (even passable), but most of the current would still follow the same “left-right-left” course.
"First Ledge" is a 3'-4' ledge, easily boat scouted and best run in the middle at most levels. Surf potential (eddies both sides); simple, uncomplicated.
Avoid left channel – it is shallow and has high strainer potential – instead, take right channel - half way down you have a decision to make: 1) move aggressively to the left, then cut back to right over diagonal ledge & hole (good fun) or 2) run directly down right side over 2’ ledge (approach might be scapey/bumpy).
A 4’-6’ drop and pool rapid, Class III+ (but could be harder at higher levels); eddy out left at top to scout; several options: 1) run extreme left – ledge drop onto well-padded rock (bouncy fun, most likely the simplest route), or 2) Left of Center over jagged ledge into challenging cross-current/hole (this hole is likely a stopper, or even keeper, at higher levels), or 3) run right side into a significant standing wave and hole. At moderate levels, avoid a “dead down the center” approach, as there is a submerged rock (probably boofable at higher levels, but would drop you straight into a possibly stopper/keeper hole.
Just upstream of and within view of the Franklinville Rd bridge. This is a two-step rapid (upper and lower with a small pool between):
Upper: Run right or left of midstream rock (left has cleaner approach at moderate levels);
Lower: Run Center or Left of Center for cleanest line. Right side could develop a nasty hole at higher levels.
There is no parking or stopping on the bridge or its approaches - so this is not a potential take-out.
The first take-out for the run - the take-out usually used by Baltimore Area paddlers
Lower take-out which can be used if parking is limited at Philadelphia Rd.
I ran the toughest part of this stretch (Jerusalem Mill to Franklinville Rd.) and I must respectfully disagree with Mr. Evangelidi. At around 130 to 140 cfs on the Winter's Run Gauge, this river was certainly more difficult than the Big Gunpowder at 12" on the local Rt. 1 bridge gauge. Belko Factory Falls is more difficult and dangerous than anything the Gunpowder has to offer; as for the immediate three or four Class threes that come before and after Belko, they are equal to anything the Gunpowder offers. The pictures on this website are misleading; they were taken at low levels; run this river after a good rain and see what I'm talking about. I consider myself a solid Class 3 kayaker. When I ran Big Gunpowder the first time, I only boat scouted the rapids; on the Little Gunpowder, I got out of my boat and scouted each and every major rapid, which wasn't easy because there weren't many eddies to catch.
10 months ago
by Larry Lempert
1 year ago
by Keith Trotta
8 years ago
9 years ago
by Douglas Engle
12 years ago
Tell us about this gauge by leaving a comment.
Permits are not required for this reach.
To get to the put-in take the MD 152 (Mountain Rd.) exit north from I-95. Turn left at Jerusalem Rd and follow it down to the Jerusalem Mill Gunpowder State Park area adjacent to the Little Gunpowder.
To get to the take-out take MD 152 (Mountain Rd.) south and turn right onto either US 40 or MD 7 (depending upon which take-out you plan to use). Take US 40 or MD 7 west to the Little Gunpowder. There is a shopping center at US 40 on the east side of the river where there is plenty of parking. At MD 7 and the river there is some parking at the shoulder on the downstream West side of the bridge.
Shuttle from the put-in: Take Jerusalem Rd east and turn right onto Old Joppa Rd. Take Old Joppa Rd to MD 7 (Philadelphia Rd). Turn right onto MD 7 and drive down to the Little Gunpowder. To get to the US 40 take-out, before you get to the river on MD 7, turn left onto Joppa Farm Rd. Go through the stoplight at US 40 and turn right into the shopping center on the south side of US 40. It is more direct to take Jerusalem Rd. to Jericho Rd. to Vinegar Hill Rd which becomes Franklinville Rd. at the river and turn right onto Old Joppa Rd (then follow directions above from Old Joppa Rd), but there are load and height limits on the Jericho Covered Bridge and the Franklinville Road Bridge and most people find this more confusing.
Belko Factory Falls
First Drop Little Gunpowder
Little Gunpowder Put-in
2nd drop river left
2nd drop center channel
2nd drop river rt
2nd drop below bridge river left
first drop below bridge
Below covered bridge
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!