MD - Conowingo Dam pool - 2006/04/30 - 25.2 miles



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Another spring brings a return trip to the Conowingo Dam pool with flowering plum and dogwoods and a romp at the falls under Holtwood Dam.




In June of 2003 I had been on Conowingo Dam pool for a nice day trip among the blooming laurel and rhododendrons. Armed with a new and vastly better digital camera, i thought I would have a go at the place again with my old friend Wayne who was new to paddling. The dam pool in usually a calm and safe place for a beginning paddler.




I drove up to his house in northern Harford County and we left from there for Broadcreek Landing, one of the few free ramps in the area. Many other launch sites along the Susquehanna in Maryland have day use fees. In Pennsylvania you can get a boat sticker for $18.00 for two years that lets you hand launch your boat at any Pennsylvania ramp facility in the entire state. We paddled down the arm of the lake that reached up into the drowned creek bed past steep and winding banks with the light yellow green of fist leaves, the big white flowers of dogwoods and the dainty pinks of plums.




We turned north once out of the creek and headed up along the left hand bank. The water was calm in the almost still air. The water was still cool - in the upper 60 degree range. A dunking would be bracing but not particularly dangerous unless you were in the water for 30 minutes or more.




Along the shore a string of cabins nested on the steep banks. Subject to occasional floods when the 45000 square mile drainage area of the Susquehanna in Pennsylvania and New York gets rain, few put a lot of money into the precariously situated little units. But I am sure that many a pleasant hour is spent along the banks of the lake, especially when August's sun beats down and the humidity and temperature are in the high nineties.




At Muddy Run Creek we turned up the little tributary and paddled to the navigable end at a small riffle. The steep banks keep the little creek shaded all summer. The dark banks sport a heavy covering of hemlock trees both large and small. Their dark needles in the shadows of the rock walls add to the cool and heavy feeling of the area. There is no road access here and very little access by foot for that matter. A small but deep pool with a little sandy beach is located just before the falls where we were forced to turn around.




We paddled on out the creek and turned up lake once more to wind in and out of the channels between the rock islands at the northern end of the lake. Here the water is becoming shallow, with large rocks sending boils of current swirling in their downstream wakes. Breaking out from the islands, we saw the bridge that marks the beginning of the falls prior to the Holtwood dam just a half mile upstream. The current here runs at about 4 or 5 knots on average flow days. When it is less there will be less water over the rocks and more waves. Iit is a good place to practice in current flumes and whirlpools. When the river is in flood this is a major whitewater attraction. After paddling about some we headed back down between the island where we passed this group making a triple out of a double.

We paddled back down lake. Not recognizing the entrance of the creek, I paddled right by it. We paddled another 2.5 miles down to the next creek, Glen Cove Marina. There Wayne got out at the ramp while I paddled back to pick up the cars. I picked up Wayne as dark fell, we retrieved our boats, and headed back home.


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