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River Access Issues

CCA is the voice of the DC paddling community to preserve and extend paddling access - primarily along and across the C&O Canal, keeping Seneca Creek clear, pushing for a put in for Goose Creek and steps around the dam, and fighting to preseve access at multiple points to the fine whitewater at Harpers Ferry.  

Our River Access Committee focuses on moves by the authorities and corporations (the C&O Canal Park, Loudoun Parks, and the CSX RR) in Georgetown, Montgomery & Loudoun Counties, and Harpers Ferry that deeply affect our ability to get to the Potomac and tributaries.  For Canal Water Levels, scroll down.

CCA Access Goals:

1. Get the lower C&O Canal re-watered sooner rather than later to facilitate paddling on the river (the Little Falls and Violettes/ GW Canal paddle-back loops) 

2. Improve physical access for the elderly, disabled veterans and beginning paddlers at popular access points (Lock 5, Lock 10, Anglers, Violettes)

3. Press for better access to Goose Creek.

4. Reverse the CSX RR’s blocking the Weverton crossing near Harpers Ferry. We're in discussions, too, with natural allies like Team River Runner and the Washington Canoe Club.

Please join us if you're interested in working on securing or improving access to a specific stream.  Dave Cottingham, Jack Findling, Pam White, Barb Brown, Jim Scott John Snitzer, and Alf Cooley are among those engaged.  

Contact Committee Chair Gordon L Lang at

Our most prominent access achievement was in 2019 at Trump Golf Club across from Violettes Lock. 
CCA sued the US Coast Guard in 2018 over their blocking the river and won.

Canoers Declare Victory In Trump Golf Course Dispute, Gaining Potomac Access _ WAMU

Canoe v. Trump: Local Paddlers Sue Over Potomac Access Next To President’s Golf Course

CCA Wins ACA Green Paddle Award for 2019 for this

Washington, DC Area

Fletcher's Cove
Supporting the proposed renovation of the entrance to the area.

C&O Canal Re-watering
John Snitzer and Barb Brown followed up several informal contacts with the C&O NHP by meeting its Superintendent Kevin Brandt and his deputy John Noel at Park HQ up in Hagerstown to discuss how we might cooperate to see that boater interests were taken into account as the Park moves ahead with its $7 million project to refill portions of the Canal between Violettes Lock and Georgetown. We continue to be engaged with them. 

Sandy Beach Steps
Critical boaters' descent from Lock 17 to the Potomac's Mather Gorge - - We and the volunteer part of the C&O Park had scheduled reconstruction and improvement, but lost our priority. Will keep plugging. (Aug 2019)

Goose Creek
    Prime beginner river, closed since 9/11.  We explored likely put-ins, where a facility comparable to the Kephart Landing take-out is in the wind, but found no construction. However, we did find a way to the Goose Reservoir, at Sycolin Road and Golf Course Rapid.  We’ve run many trips this season (Oct 2019).  Cruiser_2018_03_March_April


Violettes Lock/ GW Canal Loop

Got the C&O Canal Park to restore water to the Pennyfield-Violettes reach - making this a one-car loop again.   In the GW Canal in VA we're constantly engaged, working with Calleva to clear recurring log jams.

Lock 10 - improving takeout


Bloede Dam removal project in Patapsco Valley State Park - finished.
Article on Bloede Dam from the Baltimore Sun
CCA didn’t have a lot to do with advocating for Bloede dam removal on the Patapsco - American Rivers is taking a lot of credit. However, it has made the lower Patapsco free flowing. 

Seneca Creek - work with Seneca Creek State Park to clear this nearby family-friendly stream of logs - a job that needs monitoring as well as muscle.  


Also, support the State Park at Black Rock Mill on parking restrictions.


Harper's Ferry, WV Area

Weverton RR Crossing
This is the lower take-out in Maryland for boaters running the Needles section of the Potomac and the Staircase section of the Shenandoah past Harpers Ferry.  In early Feb, 2018, soon after a meeting of stakeholders, CCA, which was not present, heard that the CSX RR had put up signs warning boaters and hikers that the RR had declared Weverton to be a “private crossing.” And CSX removed the white posts telling its engineers to sound warning blasts in approaching the crossing. This crossing is used by 20,000 people each year, including users of the Appalachian Trail.  CCA and other organizations are working hard to counter this, which could drastically cut access to a beloved intermediate paddle. 

Weverton Rail Crossing Feasibility Study
CCA's Response to the Weverton Feasibility Study
David Cottingham - Comments on Weverton Feasibility Study
Comment on Weverton Study from Elizabeth Watson

Other parts of the Harpers Ferry access pie include:Sandy Hook MD.  Millville, WV,  Bakerton WV, Wayside Landing & Parking, VA,  Beach access at 
Harpers Ferry itself, and a portage route around the dam upstream of Millville on the Shenandoah.

See also on this website under "Message Board" - Sub-file "Events and Announcements" - the following:

Access Projects - Goose Ck - 5/2018, 11/2017
C&O Sup't Unveils Multi-Year Plan to Re-Water the Canal - 11/2017
CCA – ACCESS PROJECTS – C&O Canal - 3 Nov 2017
C&O Canal - 10 Possible Loops – 5 Loops + 5 Out-and-Backs:  1/2018
River Access Issues for the C&O NHP - 10/2019
Locks on the Lower C&O Canal - 10/2019

CANAL LEVELS - Georgetown to Violettes Lock

(updated 8 Nov 2019)  Currently Level 4/Georgetown and Level 22/Pennyfield are navigable - as is the perennial Widewater/upper Level 14 (but not down to Anglers bridge).

First:  A record of levels on Bill Endicott's gauge for Level 4, meaning the reach above Lock 4 in Georgetown up to Lock 5.  20 inches means about half full - sufficient for WW boats returning from a Little Falls run, but a bit problematic for racing sculls.

This is to keep track of what the Park Service is doing, with a view of getting them to inform the CCA of changes they're going to make.  So we don't get skunked and can pass the word on to the paddling public.

Georgetown Reach - Nov 3 - 11.5"
2019 - July 29 - 22"    30th-21"    Aug 1st- 21 3/4"    4th-22" 6th - 22.5"  24-29th - 18"   Sept 5th - 18"    11th - 15.5"    18th-10.5"      Oct 23d - 15"   27th - 26"   (We asked the C&O Canal Park about the low 15" and 11.5" and they say - no intent to dewater the Canal -

The authorities have a gauge at the 31st St Bridge repair project whose high point is 4 feet.  Since cattails and reeds hinder paddlers from getting there often, (but see Trip Report for 24 Oct 2019) readings are far less frequent.    Aug 6 - 2' 8"    Oct 24 - 2' 5"

Level 5 is empty, Level 6 watered but low - green with algae and many fallen branches in it. (Aug 29) 

- Levels 19 and 20 (by Great Falls Tavern) and above and below Swains Lock are empty. since the waste weir at Swains Lock blew out in Nov 1's downpour.   3 new lock-gate sets on Locks 17, 18, 19.  (Aug 23) 

Pennyfield to Violettes  - Level 22
full since beginning of May 2019

Please send newer info to - or post it yourself.