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When you put in at the river bank adjacent to the canal lock, paddle across the Potomac initially staying above the rocky area known as Seneca Breaks. You can either run down the middle of the river if the water level is good (about 3+ feet), or you can enter the chute on the Virginia side. (Since you will be paddling back upriver in the C&O Canal, I would suggest doing 2 circuits so you can experience both).
The mid-river option has endless lines so you can zigzag your way through the rocks and over the ledges. The chute is the remnants of an old canal that is now a river channel, and offers fun rapids and waves with a swift current. Below the drop marked with a "13" sign you can eddy out to the left then play in the wave, practice your roll, or watch other paddlers coming by.
In either case, there are plenty of places to stop and swim or fish, and remember to pack a lunch so you can stop on one of the islands and enjoy the scenery. Watch out for strainers in the chute, which tend to alter the course of the routes from one visit to the next. As you come to a gap in the islands and can see the main river channel, turn a sharp left and make your way back over to the Maryland side. Portage over into the C&O Canal and paddle back up to the lock where you started. The total circuit is about 4 miles and you can easily do 2 circuits in 2-3 hours.
Down river, where the water smooths out again ferry across to river left; there is a dirt path leading over the bike path to the C&O Canal. Look for a high spot on the tree line. The large trees facing the river are marked with yellow blazes, but they're hard to see until you get close.
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