Western Maryland

(Garrett, Allegany, Washington, and Frederick counties)

Western Maryland is characterized by its mountainous terrain, rolling hills, steep cliffs and large blocks of forested land. In this area of the state, paddlers can find slowly meandering creeks that are appropriate for fishing and floating, as well as Class V whitewater for more experienced paddling. Waterways in this part of the state are typically freshwater, rocky, and shallow and are significantly influenced by periods of drought and/or rain events. Deep Creek Lake, the Youghiogheny, Savage, North Branch Potomac and Upper Potomac rivers are among the major waterways that attract recreational boaters to the region.


Monocacy Scenic River Water Trail: The River with Many Bends

Cover art of the Monocacy Scenic River Water Trail guideThis water trails map provides detailed information for approximately 42 miles of water trail along the Monocacy Scenic River in Frederick County. The map is designed primarily for those touring by kayak and canoe, is printed on durable, waterproof paper, and provides details on all public water access sites starting at Rocky Ridge off of Maryland Rt. 77, on the upstream portion of the Monocacy River, to the confluence with the Potomac River at the southern end. This map includes information on a variety of natural, historic, and cultural attractions nearby and is a wonderful resource for people who wish to learn more about the variety of access and natural resources Frederick County has to offer.

The map was produced through a partnership between the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Frederick County Division of Parks and Recreation, the Tourism Council of Frederick County, the National Park Service Monocacy National Battlefield, and the Monocacy Scenic River Citizens Advisory Board. This map is available through the DNR Outdoor Store at http://shopdnr.com/watertrails.aspx or from the Frederick County Division of Parks and Recreation office at 355 Montevue Lane, Suite 100, Frederick, MD 21702.

Potomac River Water Trail: The North Branch

Cover of Potomac River Water Trail - The North BranchThe Potomac River Water Trail: the North Branch details the northern reaches of the Potomac River in Allegany County, Maryland between Westernport and Cumberland. The area is depicted on three separate maps covering approximately 32 miles. This water trail was developed through a partnership between the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the National Park Service (NPS), Allegany County and others. The maps show access points on both sides of the river including information on support facilities like restrooms, camping and fishing sites, and picnic and parking areas. The maps are printed on waterproof, tear-proof paper and are packaged in a zip closure plastic pouch. This map set is available through the DNR Outdoor Store at http://shopdnr.com/watertrails.aspx.

Potomac River Water Trail and the C&O Canal: Upper Potomac

Potomac River Trail Map CoverThis water trail guide details approximately 115 miles of the Upper Potomac River corridor and parallels the C&O Canal National Historic Park between Shepherdstown, WV and Cumberland, MD and picks up where the Potomac River Water Trail: the North Branch map set leaves off. The five-map set shows access and support facilities along both sides of the river and is an invaluable resource for paddlers, boaters, anglers or outdoor enthusiasts interested in the area. The maps are printed on waterproof, tear-proof paper and are packaged in a zip closure plastic pouch. This map set is available through the DNR Outdoor Store at http://shopdnr.com/watertrails.aspx.

Additional information on attractions and public access along this section of the C&O Canal can be found at the National Park Service website.

Potomac River Water Trail and the C&O Canal: Middle Potomac

Cover of Potomac River Water Trail and the C&O Canal - Middle Potomac Potomac River Water Trail and the C&O Canal: Middle Potomac This water trail spans approximately 100 miles of the Middle Potomac River corridor and parallels the C&O Canal National Historic Park between Sharpsburg, MD and Washington D.C. This map set picks up where the Potomac River Water Trail and the C&O Canal: Upper Potomac map set leaves off. Maryland DNR is working in partnership with the C&O Canal National Historical Park and many other state and local agencies that have a presence along this section of the river in Virginia and Maryland, to create a new water trail map set for this portion of the river. An earlier map set for this section of the Potomac River Water Trail was created by the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin in the 1970s but is no longer available. Like the other Potomac River Water Trail map sets, the new maps will show access points on both sides of the river and include information on support facilities like restrooms, hiker-biker sites, fishing, picnic and parking areas. The maps will also feature historic, cultural and natural resource information. Preliminary planning and map updates have begun. The new maps are not yet available. Additional area information can be found at the  National Park Service website. Download an electronic version of the guide.

Youghiogheny Wild and Scenic River

Kayaks paddling by a bridge in western Maryland In 1976 a 21-mile long segment of the Youghiogheny was designated as Maryland’s first Wild River. A state protected corridor along the river runs from Miller’s Run, just north of Oakland, to the Town of Friendsville. This corridor is managed by the Maryland Forest and Park Service.

There is no official map or guide to public access on the Youghiogheny River in Maryland, but public access points can be found at Swallow Falls State Park, in the Sang Run area off of Sang Run Road, and in Friendsville. The Hoyes Run area is a public access point for hiking, and fly fishing (catch and release only). Other points of access are primarily primitive and rugged so every effort should be taken by visitors to become familiar with the skills needed to safely enjoy the remote and primitive environment of the river.

While whitewater boating has become an increasingly popular way for many to experience the wildness of the Youghiogheny, the river is extremely difficult and potentially dangerous so be prepared. Information on whitewater boating may be obtained at the park office. General park information can be obtained at 301-387-5563. To learn more visit http://dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/western/swallowfalls.aspx

Online Services


Chesapeake Bay Hotline

Call 1-877-224-7229
to report any of the following

  • Boating accident or reckless activity
  • Fish kill or algal bloom
  • Floating debris that poses a hazard to navigation
  • Illegal fishing activity
  • Public sewer leak or overflow
  • Oil or hazardous material spill
  • Critical area or wetlands violation
  • Suspicious or unusual activity