The Thursday Paddlers on Aug. 2 went to the Lower Gunpowder (Big Gunpowder Falls River) north of Baltimore. Its tributary creek, the Little Gunpowder Falls, a possible target, was actually running very early that morning but had fallen by 10:00 a.m. as we gathered. The Lower was at 1 foot on the bridge gauge (about 987 cfs on the AW virtual gauge)—perfect for a lively but not overly pushy run. Six kayaks and one canoe made the trip—John S, Ken C, Bob M, Jim K, Sean C, Dave B, and Larry L.
The usual Jones Rd takeout parking lot has been closed, so we chose to paddle the extra estuarial 3 miles below Rte 40 to Mariner Point Park (Kearney Drive, Joppa, MD), which offers ample parking and an easy takeout in contrast to the long trek through the woods at Jones Rd. We saw lots of osprey and heron on the extra few miles, which went by surprisingly quickly. The usual whitewater run is so short (3.5 miles) that this actually makes for a nice extension.
According to a reply to my question on the Baltimore club Facebook page, the alternative for those fond of the usual takeout or those averse to a little flatwater paddle, is a $10 parking fee at an auto repair/tow shop at Jones Rd and Route 40. We didn’t explore that alternative, so I can’t vouch for it. There are several establishments there and frankly I’m not sure which one was meant. I’ll note that there are prominent no-parking signs all along Jones Rd.
A heads-up to paddlers interested in the Mariner Point alternative: it’s a little tricky to find the exact route over to the park. The most direct and quickest way involves a left just after the island about 1½ miles after Rte 40. This left is a branch of the Little Gunpowder Falls. Almost immediately, take the first right into a side channel, make a 20-foot portage over to another channel, and then paddle over to the park. Heck, look at a map—it’s easier to see it than to describe it! Hint: the spot for portaging is just after a duck blind on river left.
Trip protocol note: We ran into confusion twice because of failure to heed a time-honored rule of the road and river: keep the car/boat behind you in view. In the first instance, on the shuttle, this resulted in the lead car not realizing (mea culpa!!) that the car behind had gotten a flat tire. In the second instance, on the river, this resulted in the group being split in two, with the person who knew the route being in the half behind (in this case, though, the culpa was not mea). But no harm was done: the car behind, after a lightning fast repair, made it back to the put-in, and the split halves on the river both made it to the takeout where they became whole.
Trip time was about 3½ hours (which included some waiting time because of the split halves) . And imagine this: after dire predictions of thunderstorms, we found ourselves gliding down the estuarial stretch in bright sunshine with blue sky as we enjoyed viewing the birdlife. The rain came only after we’d loaded up to go home.