your paddlesports destination

Antietam Creek in Maryland

Trip Overview

Trip was from Devil's Backbone County Park to the mouth of Antietam Creek on the Potomac.

A little over 13 miles or 30 Km and 4.5 hours with a short lunch break.

Run done in Perception Swifty's with skirts.

The creek has stretches of quick moving flat water punctuated by riffles and up to class 2 water. The water was rather low for this trip and the character of it would change significantly if the water was a few inches higher. We dragged bottom on a few places, but only had one very short carry around a fallen tree.

The creek flows mostly under trees through farms and parkland on this section with a significant portion through the Antietam National Battlefield; very pretty. There are a couple of old mill weirs which can surprise you if you are not prepared. The whitewater is good fun for intermediate paddlers, but should not be frightening to most beginners.

There is a nice 3M waterfall at about the halfway point, which made a nice place to stop for lunch. BIG Carp and trout are everywhere, we will bring poles with us the next time.

Put in at Devil's Backbone is easy, the parking is right by the creek. There are picnic pavilions and bathrooms. At the takeout, follow Gerler's advice and go up the Potomac about 50M to a takeout on the right, next to the C&O Canal Trail and just off Canal Road. There is plenty of parallel parking in a well marked area.

There are some nice deep areas for swimming if you have the time. The lower part of the creek is used by some local outfitters for kayak and tubing in the summer months, it may get more crowded than we experienced in October.

This trip is an easy day trip from Washington or Baltimore areas and worth half a day of your time. Good opportunity to flesh the day out with a visit to the battlefield, a ride on the C&O canal, or a quick trip to Harper's Ferry, about a 15 minute ride from the takeout.


Devil's Backbone Park has a pretty dam, picnic areas, and public bathrooms. At the take out there are trees.




Use Mapquest to find Devil's Backbone Park off Rt 68. The mouth of the river and Canal Road are also clearly marked. You can check some portions out with good resolution photography on Google Earth.


Gertler's Maryland and Delaware Canoe Trails, Mapquest, and Google Earth.
Some sections of Harper's Ferry Road were closed when we travelled from Harper's Ferry area, but not a problem if approaching from the North.

  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip