Difficulty II
Length 6.1 Miles
Gauge Octoraro Creek near Richardsmere, MD
Flow Range 325 - 4600 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 17 minutes ago 121 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 05/20/2019 11:04 pm

River Description

Nice little section with some trashy and scenic surroundings. This is a kind of a forgotten corner of MD, but it's worth visiting and the river is worth running. It's kind of like the Brandywine without any dams.

The first 2.6 miles are pretty mellow, but things start to get going after the Rt. 1 bridge. Fun Class II rapids result as the Octoraro (which is Native American for "rushing waters") drops down to the Susquehanna below Conowingo Dam. Take out on a small side road before the Rt. 222 bridge in the historic mill town of Richardsmere.

The Upper Octoraro is categorized as a Pennsylvania stream.

Rapid Descriptions

Horseshoe Road Bridge Put-in

Class - N/A Mile - 0
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On weekends, it seems to be OK to park in the bus turnaround area on the downstream River right side of the bridge.  But there's only room for 2 or 3 cars here, so try to leave as few cars here as possible.  On weekdays, the bus turnaround is needed for school buses to turn around so however inviting it might seem, this area must be kept clear.  Look around, there may be other options.  

New River Ranch Shoal

Class - I Mile - 2.45
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At this location the New River Ranch Dam was removed in 2005.  The Dam removal left a Delta that created a river wide shoal runnable down to about 340 cfs on the Richardsmere Gauge, roughly river center.  Below 340 cfs you will hit some rocks and have some hand walking here.  

US 1 Bridge

Class - N/A Mile - 2.6
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Not a rapid or an access point - just a landmark.  The river picks up some below the bridge.

Power Line Ledge

Class - II Mile - 3.55
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Under the second set of power lines there is a ledge.   At lower water there is a line from river left to center.   At higher water there's more options and at even higher water it becomes a wave.

Surprise Rock

Class - III Mile - 4.2
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At or above 400 - 500 cfs, this is a class III rapid, as the current slams into a rock on river right.  In order to avoid this hazard, the paddler needs to set left angle and drive to the left.  At lower water (340 cfs or lower), this is an easier Class II move, still center to left.

Moore Rd. Richardsmere Take-out

Class - N/A Mile - 6.1
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Take out on Moore Road on River right above the US 222 bridge in the historic mill town of Richardsmere.

Ballfield Take-out

Class - N/A Mile - 6.15
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
If you have a large group, there is more parking at the Ballfield at River left just below the US 222 bridge


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Eric Peppler
1 year ago

Ran 8/21/18 @ 3.6 ft on gauge. No portages required, no stream-wide strainers, and only one shallow spot. Fun riffles and boulder gardens with a single 1 ft drop about half way. Scenery is great, very little hints of civilization. It only took us about 1.5 hours to travel the 6 miles.

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Tony Allred Jr
2 years ago

There is a relatively new Gauge on the Octoraro: "Richardsmere" for which I have a reading of 300 cfs as a minimum for this gauge and 340 cfs as the bottom of a moderate level. More correlation made with the "Richardsmere" Gauge would help to see where things fall. Also, the Dam pictured here has been removed.

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Tony Allred Jr
2 years ago

Gauge switched to Octoraro at Richardsmere

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7 years ago

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jim walraven
8 years ago

Could someone please explain why the gauge used for this run is "Brandywine Creek at Chadds Ford, PA." I looked on Google earth but never found a any connection to the Octoraro Creek. There is a gauge found on the USGS site for Octoraro Creek: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/md/nwis/uv/site_no=01578475&PARAmeter_cd=00065,00060,62619,62620,00062,00054 Shouldn't we use this one instead since it is on Octoraro Creek?

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10 years ago

Ran this stream on April 17, 2009, gauge at 3.0, a little low, but not terrible as my group are novices and this made for a great training run. The description is accurate, the most fun is in the small gorge section below the Rte. 1 bridge which had just enough water in it that day. I figure that about 3.3 on the gauge and up will please most paddlers. LK

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11 years ago

usgs has a station on (octoraro: #01578475) new bridge road. there has been a lot of vandalism at this site. if you see vandalism in progress or damage to our gage please call usgs@ 717-730-6987 thanks

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Daniel Campbell
12 years ago

The New River Ranch Dam was removed in 2005. The following article talks about the removal and has pictures: http://www.bayjournal.com/article.cfm?article=2652. The Dam got it's name from the "New River Ranch" country music park on the east side of the river just north of the dam. It was open through the 1950's and early 60's. If you are curious some good info on the park is at this link: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1280910

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tom resch
15 years ago

can anyone give me some info on this creek please

Gage Descriptions

Primary guage is Octoraro at Richardsmere; Deer Creek at Rocks and Brandywine at Chadds Ford are supporting gauges..

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports




Tony Allred Jr


Matt Muir


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1212416 05/18/19 Tony Allred Jr updated description
1212417 05/19/19 Tony Allred Jr updated stats
1190526 01/20/02 n/a n/a
1207623 06/05/17 n/a 6-20-2017 added Chadd Ford back in as supporting gauge
1207751 06/20/17 Tony Allred Jr 5-20-2017 - include gauges in river description
1207753 06/20/17 Tony Allred Jr 6-20-2017 - cleanup
1207755 06/20/17 Tony Allred Jr 11-27-2017 - edited Bottom gauge range
1212418 05/19/19 Tony Allred Jr updated image position
1212419 05/19/19 Tony Allred Jr updated image position
1212420 05/19/19 Tony Allred Jr updated image position
1212456 05/20/19 Tony Allred Jr updated name
1212077 04/29/19 Tony Allred Jr updated description