Gauge Description:


The VA Lines are most commonly run between 2.9 and 3.1, but they can be run a little lower and certainly much higher if you have enough skill and knowledge of the river.  The limiting factor is usually the Spout.  There's a rock behind the curtain called the Big Toe that comes into play as the level drops below 3.0; one local shattered his elbow on it below 2.8.  Above 3.2 the hole at the base of the Spout gets really violent, These days, most paddlers are running it on the right. At higher water, U-hole and S-turn merge into one  big technical rapid and setting safety is a good idea. Virginia is runnable up to 4 feet but 95% of local paddlers' personal cut off is between 3.1 and 3.4


The gage is located at Little Falls (aka Brookmont) Dam, where the river is very wide.  Consequently, an inch on the gage can translate to a foot at Great Falls.  The gage is also 8-9 miles downstream, so if the river is rising or falling rapidly there could be a discrepancy between the gage reading and the actual level.  Scout the rapids visually if there is any doubt.  (You were going to do that anyway, right?)
 

USGS Potomac River / Little Falls Gage

NOAA Prediction for Little Falls Gage

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
POTOMAC RIVER NEAR WASH, DC LITTLE FALLS PUMP STA
usgs-01646500 2.50 - 3.95 ft V 00h26m 3.14 ft (running)
gauge class U-hole develops a pretty bad pocket hole. Normans is recommended instead. The Spout becomes a burly hole and the Crack is the sneak option above 3.3.

gauge graph
RangeWater LevelDifficultyComment
2.50 -2.80 ft barely runnable-med runnable V gauge is important or has warning runnable, but not clean at these flows. The crease/slot in U-hole is tricky and shallow. The Spout has a very narrow LZ. Boof middle right to avoid a devastati
2.85 -3.10 ft barely runnable-perfect runnable V gauge is important or has warning Ideal level. Both the left and center lines at U-hole are in, and both lines at the Spout are good. There are some cool eddy moves in s-turn as well.
3.10 -3.40 ft med runnable-a bit pushy runnable V gauge is important or has warning U-hole develops a pretty bad pocket hole. Normans is recommended instead. The Spout becomes a burly hole and the Crack is the sneak option above 3.3.
3.50 -3.95 ft a bit pushy runnable-high runnable V+ gauge is important or has warning very few run this in the upper 3's as a swim would be life threatening. Bad Hole at the top of the 2nd rapid. Spout goes on the far right.

Reports give the public a chance to report on river conditions throughout the country as well as log the history of a river.

When River/Gauge Subject Level Reporter
Potomac [MD] Spout n/a Potomac Pathways
Potomac River [MD] Mike on Crack n/a Scott Anderson
5y331d00h32m /Potomac River-Great Falls (VA Lines) [VA] The Spout n/a Claude Frank
7y216d16h05m /Potomac River-Great Falls (VA Lines) [VA] Account of 12/03/12 a good level Scott Anderson
7y216d16h06m /Potomac River-Great Falls (VA Lines) [VA] Account of 12/03/12 high runnable Scott Anderson
7y216d16h07m /Potomac River-Great Falls (VA Lines) [VA] Account of 12/03/12 high runnable Scott Anderson
7y216d16h08m /Potomac River-Great Falls (VA Lines) [VA] Account of 12/03/12 a good level Scott Anderson
8y212d16h24m /Potomac River-Great Falls (VA Lines) [VA] Surfin 'O' Deck 0 cfs Frank J Perruccio
8y212d16h24m /Potomac River-Great Falls (VA Lines) [VA] Carvin It UP!!! 0 cfs Frank J Perruccio
9y145d01h16m /Potomac River-Great Falls (VA Lines) [MD] U Hole n/a Will Oliver
9y282d17h39m /Potomac River-Great Falls (VA Lines) [MD] The Crack too low to run Brett Mayer
> 10 years Potomac River [MD] U-Hole 2.9 Scott Anderson