Potomac - Little Falls

Rating: III(IV) level dependant

Description: One of few runs you can do without setting up a shuttle. Carry down to the feeder canal.  Paddle up the canal to the slalom course for eddy practice, attaining, and a little surf at the very top.  Paddle back down the river and make the first right into Z-channel.  Catch eddies on your way down.  At the bottom there is a small drop.   Stay left at the drop so as to not nail the bottom of your boat on the pointing rock or get pinned, or go the the right around the rock.  Paddle across the river to the main flow and head down toward Little Falls rapid.  There are many eddy lines and some surf spots to work along the way.  If you want to run Beaver Drop, there is a small beach where you can take out and carry up to a higher part of the river and run the drop.  This is considered class III at normal flows.  If you decide to skip it, you can see it as you float by.   When you get to little falls which you will hear and see before you are committed.  You can get out on river left to scout.  There is an island in the middle.  river left is considered the Maryland side while river right is considered the virginia side.   Maryland side is considered easier.  Stay away from the island.  Takeout is immediately after the rapid.  You will notice the concrete structure on river left. Climb up there and carry up the trail to the canal.  Walk or paddle along the canal to your vehicle.

Directions: I normally park at lock 6 and drop my stuff off and get ready.  Then take the vehicle to lock 5 and walk back to the kayak and gear.   On weekdays you may not be able to travel on Clara Barton Parkway toward D.C. which means you may not be able to get to locks 5 or 6.   Alternate parking on Valley Rd.   Be considerate of the residents.  I spoke with one woman who said they don't mind paddlers parking there, but would be good to park along the road between houses so they may park their own cars and get out of their driveways easier.

Flow: See chart below for flow projections.   You can run this section at any level.  It is easier at lower levels.  I would consider below 3.5' to be a lower level and good for first timers capable of class III-.


Little Falls