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Gunpowder River in Maryland

A self-supported trip created by guest-paddler

Trip Overview

Gunpowder River - between Harford Rd. and Belair Rd.

The painted bridge gauge at Belair rd. read 4ft.

A normally quiet and slow moving river turned into a steady, fast and fun ride with the help from thunderstorms and an unusual series of tornadoes. My buddy in a 9' Old Town and myself in an 11' Perception dropped in from the Harford rd. bridge at 5pm. Navigating the fast flow was easy as there weren't many strainers and the water was well over the majority of the large river rocks.

Being new to the sport, the first few wave sections were pretty scary, but by the end I had wanted to do it all again. More than not you were able to go one side or the other for a wilder or calmer ride. A spray skirt would have been helpful as I had to empty the boat from excessive wave splash twice on the 2 hour float, but my buddy only had to once.

Coming up on the Belair rd. bridge, I opted to pull out upstream and walk under the bridge while my buddy opted to ride, or swim, even though I warned him he might not be able to safely land on the other side!

Getting out of the water around 7, it was a fast run, compared to the 4 hours it took to do that section in tubes last year after a hurricane. So just understand for time sake, the water was moving really fast.

If we would have had an earlier start, we could of taken the river down to the rt. 7 bridge(not a very good portage, plus little parking) where the water also gets a little rockier, or the rt. 40 bridge, an easy portage but no parking, where there is a full rapid section. Or all the way to Mariner Point, a county park and boat ramp that is on a channel right near the mouth of the Gunpowder.

Overall, I had a blast and wanted to share my experience since there wasnt another story on this section of the river.


10(?) car lot at Harford rd. trailhead no gate

Generous parking at the Belair rd. trailhead, 2 sections, one with gate, one without.


695 to Belair Rd. north, park is a few miles up on your right, you cross the gunpowder right before you get to the lot is the take-out so leave a car here, take a right out of the park and a left at the first light, ride that road to the stop sign and bang a left. Ride a few miles and enjoy the scenery, the parking is directly after a series of hairpin turns, the last being the sharpest where you ride back over the gunpowder right before the lot on the left. The trip is 10 to 20 min depending on how you like to drive on country roads.


Google Maps: find the Gunpowder river in the Perry Hall area, and see where it intersects roads!

Trip Details

  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)

Trip Location