Urban Rivers: Mid-Atlantic

Washington, D.C.: Potomac
  |  Gorp.com

Whitewater near the White House

The French have the baroque waterworks of Versailles: elaborate fountains splashing over bronze statues. The United States took an earthier route: We built our capital near some of the hairiest whitewater anywhere. Great Falls spills over from where the harder continental shelf meets the softer coastal plain. Result? Class VI whitewater that isn't runnable except by the most skilled kayaker. If you're looking for some recreation that leaves your hide and hair intact, the Potomac offers safer paddling possibilities. The folks behind the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail are slowly but surely piecing together a route that explores the Potomac River basin. This scenic trail includes a water trail portion: a first for the system. Much of the trail is near or right outside of D.C., including the C and O Canal tow path and Mount Vernon Trail.


Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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