Little Gunpowder Falls, Maryland, US
|Usual Difficulty||II-III (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||33 fpm|
|Max Gradient||75 fpm|
|LITTLE GUNPOWDER FALLS AT LAUREL BROOK, MD|
|usgs-01584500||105 - 2500 cfs||II-III||00h35m||205 cfs (running)|
|WINTERS RUN NEAR BENSON, MD|
|usgs-01581700||110 - 2345 cfs||II-III||00h35m||171 cfs (running)|
|Upper limit for best boatability uncertain. Please help your fellow boaters with a comment or report.|
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.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.0||Jerusalem Mill Put-in||N/A|
|0.3||"Jericho Covered Bridge"||N/A|
|1.5||"Belko Factory Falls"||III+|
|3.4||Philadelphia Rd. (MD 7) Take-out||N/A|
|3.7||US 40 Take-out||N/A|
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.
The first is a 3-4 foot 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.