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Great Falls

discover the Potomac

Running through Washington, D.C., the Potomac River is a fascinating stream that quickly sheds its urban character and becomes a near wilderness, full of history and wildlife.
The Potomac is the reason why kayaking has become so popular in the D.C. area. Within a 24-mile stretch, the Potomac River’s character changes from ambling calm water to exploding waves. Many consider it to be a sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of life in Washington—an incredible escape only 10 minutes from the Capitol.

Anyone can paddle on the Potomac; whatever your fitness, it’s fit for you. It welcomes even those who have limited kayaking skill and invites you to blossom and grow on its glorious stretches.

Come and discover the rhythms and scenes of the Potomac with Liquid Adventures: the flow of spring boasts mountain laurel; the waters run cool in the heat of summer; and the vibrant canopy of trees explode with color in the fall. And don’t forget the wildlife skirting along its banks and perched atop its rocks: egrets, great blue herons, bald eagles, deer, fox, beaver, shad, small mouth bass, turtles, and more.

Just below Great Falls, the river runs through Mather Gorge, every kayaker’s sacred haven. From there, the river begins its journey to Difficult Run, location to some of the Potomac’s most renowned playspots. And just downstream from Difficult Run sits Offut Island—yet another little paradise.

Continuing farther downstream we have the Feeder Canal, located at Lock 6 off of Clara Barton Parkway. Here you’ll find some of the nation’s top Olympian athletes training. And it’s here, too, that Liquid Adventures will teach you the necessary skills and strokes to handle your kayak with ease and precision.

Then there’s Little Falls, the section of the river you can see from your car as you cross over Chain Bridge. It’s a complex rapid but with the right amount of skill, you’ll find it to be one of the most sought-after sections of the Potomac to paddle in a kayak.

But the best little section of river to learn on is located upstream above all of the aforementioned locations: Violette’s Lock, every beginners’ favorite, where soft riffles of water flow through gentle rock gardens. No matter how skilled you become as a kayaker, Violette’s Lock will remain as your first little gem.

Tom McEwan, cofounder of Liquid Adventures, has spent over 30 years paddling the Potomac River; he knows the Potomac like few others. In 1976, Tom and two friends made the first-ever descent of Great Falls, the most challenging and spectacular feature on the river.

We hope you’ll decide to come discover the sheer magic of the Potomac River for yourself.

trip reports

Friends love to share their river adventures with us.  Click on a link below to read about student experiences on Liquid Adventures trips.  We’d love to hear your stories, too!  Just sent your trip report to info@liquidadventures.org and we’ll add it to our site.

spring break trip for youth

better to be lucky than good - 05 adventures in Mexico by Mike Johnson

andrew's story - 50 days paddling - across the barrenlands

fiftieth annual potomac downriver race - here are the results

team laks - short trip report from the Cheat Race May 6

linville lessons - the story of how in the early '70s Wick and Jamie and Tom explored the class V Linville Gorge

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