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Potomac River - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip

Report Type: Day Trip Report
Trip Dates: June 8, 2007
Nearest City: Shepherdstown, WV
Difficulty: Easy
Submitted by: judiski


There are several stretches of the Potomac in Western Maryland which at certain times can be easily paddled both up and down stream for a delightful flat water experience. Starting at the public boat ramp in Shepherdstown, WV it is possible to paddle upstream for almost six miles if the river level is not too low. Check the web site for the tide gauge listed in the resources.

On the June day we paddled this section the water level was 2.3 feet. At that level, the water level was such that all the rocky sections had significant water to allow us to paddle over them going upsteam in our Tarpon 160i’s. There is little development along the river, since the C&O Canal borders the Maryland side. Due to the low water level the only boats are small fishing boats.

This was a delightful paddle which featured a baby fawn on the shore, and flocks of newly hatched ducks and geese swimming in the water. About five miles upstream is Taylor’s Landing, another possible launch site. Approximately a mile further up is a rocky section which we found difficult to negotiate in 16 ft. kayaks. We chose to turn around at this point for a leisurely paddle back to the put in site. There are several spots deep enough for swimming on hot days.

As we were taking out at the boat landing we spotted several individuals headed downstream from this spot. Several weeks later the water level has dropped more than 6 inches and we suspect it will make this section more difficult.


Shepherdstown has several B&B's. Downtown Shepherdstown features a number of restaurants.
There were no facilities at the boat ramp, however up river there are hiker/biker campsites where you can put ashore and use the port a johns and get water from the pumps.




From German Street (the Main St. in Shepherdstown, WV) turn onto N.Princess St and drive several blocks until it dead ends at the river.


Web Site for water gauge at Sheperdstown.

Also, GMCO's Pro Series Map of Upper Potomac River- Dam 4 to Great Falls.

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