During the COVID-19 pandemic, we followed Maryland’s “stay at home” orders, only venturing out for necessities and exercise, such as hiking and kayaking, and then only in less popular areas. One of our adventures was a really pretty paddle on the Patapsco River, putting in just above the dam at Daniels and paddling upstream about 1.5 miles before turning around and heading back to the launch sight.
Although we probably only went upriver 1.5 miles before hitting some minor rapids that we didn’t feel like paddling against just past a big bend, this is well worth a few hours of your time just to enjoy the river. This stretch of the river flows through the Patapsco Valley State Park (Daniels Area), and trees now line the shores. Other than a bridges and supports from the rail road (the Baltimore & Ohio’s Old Main Line, now run by CSX), this stretch offers few signs of civilization.
Other than these rapids — and you can hardly call these even Class 1 rapids — the river current was pretty gentle, although when we just floated, the current would push us sideways.
|A railroad bridge from the Old Main Line is picturesque. It now carries a hiking/biking rail trail.|
Heading back downriver was pleasant, with the current doing most of the work until just above the dam. We paddled only to steer.
Another option for kayaking on the Patapsco River is launching at Woodstock and heading down stream until taking out at Daniels. That option offers a nice four-hour float with the current down the river. Check to see whether enough water is running on the river, unless you don’t mind the occasional portage. I haven’t done this kayak trip, but I know folks who have, and I plan on doing so next spring.
I think you’ll be impressed by the beauty of the river. The morning we were there — not a weekend morning — we had the river to ourselves, except for a Canada goose, a mother mallard duck and her ducklings and a beautiful heron fishing for his breakfast. He kept a wary eye on us until we were well past him!
We were startled by how clear the water was, although the river doesn’t seem very healthy — no water grasses were growing in the river and we didn’t see any fish and not very many turtles.
Know before you go: Some parts of the river will be impassable during a drought or low-rain period. Spring is your best option for exploring the Patapsco River by kayak, or after a significant rain.
Getting there: Patapsco Valley State Park – Daniels Area, 2090 Daniels Road, Ellicott City, MD 21043
Hours: Dawn through dusk
For other great places to kayak in Maryland, check out the places below:
Blackwater River/Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge Kayaking
Centennial Lake / Preparing for Kayaking Adventures
C&O Canal at Swain’s Lock
Lake Clopper / Seneca Creek State Park
Little Seneca Lake
Mallows Bay Shipwrecks
Piney Run Park
Wetipquin Creek (Nanticoke River Water Trail)