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Potomac River at Riley's Lock in Maryland

Trip Overview

Riley's Lock on the Potomac

Great Seneca Creek / Potomac River

This is a pleasant paddle on a gently flowing wide section of the Potomac. Put in at the boat ramp on Great Seneca Creek. Paddle a 1/4 mile down creek and under the C & O aqueduct. Enter the Potomac, turning right to stay on flat water. From there it is possible to paddle 5 to 7 miles up river staying on flat wide water.

There are many long skinny islands in the center of the river to explore from the water. As these have no human occupants they are entirely inhabited by wild life. See many herons, cormorants, ducks, and other water fowl. There is the occasional beaver, bald eagle and osprey as well.

We usually prefer to paddle up the "left hand" side of the river. This side is narrower and flows slightly slower than the "right hand" or main channel. When we turn back down river we turn in to the main channel allowing the water traveling at 1 to 2 miles an hour to assist our return to the Lock.

The Lock itself stays hidden by the river until you are almost back to it.


Everything the Washington DC Metro has to offer.


There are no fees to enter the Lock parking lot or to put in (The parking lot is some times full.).


Take the Capital Beltway (I-495), to the River Road (Rte. 190) headed west, outside the beltway. After 11.5 miles, turn left at a T-intersection to stay on River Rd. At the bottom of the hill, in 0.7 miles, turn left onto Riley's Lock Rd. Park another 0.7 miles later just before the canal and river. The boat ramp is located on the right Across the street from the first parking lot on the left.

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

Locations on this Trip