Creek News

Paddling the Darby Creek Section

Highway 53 — Cover Bridge Road

This is, likely, the best stretch of the river. It is long, due to the poor access point at Hwy 1694. The total length is 10.6 miles. Most of it is moving water, as you can really only paddle this after a big spring/fall rain (or a summer deluge). I’m not aware of any gauges on the river but my rule of thumb is if the water is brown and it looks like you could get down the first rapid without dragging, you’re good to go. I went 32 hours after a record breaking 7” rain so this probably doesn’t run too many times during the year.

FullSizeRender 2This section starts with some meandering class II rapids. The gorge deepens and narrows and you start to enter a beautiful section with rocky bluffs lining the river. They may not be visible in the summer months, but are spectacular when the leaves are down.

waterfallThis section has a few deep pools of flat water mixed by class II rapids. The rapids are more mild than the 53/393 section. You need to watch for downed trees, but you have good visibility in each rapid to get out if you need to portage a strainer.

After the cliffs section, the gorge widens and some lush bottomland starts bookend the river. Occasionally a larger spring will enter the creek from one side or the other, which would create an even larger flat bottomland section.

FullSizeRender-4This, very remote stretch of river, has over a dozen waterfalls along the river and almost the same number of heron rookeries. If you see a wet water spring entering the creek, follow it back to the bluffs and you’ll see a nice waterfall or cascade.

One of my favorite sections splits the river around several rock bar islands. I called it as “Z-maze rapid,” although to a whitewater boater, it isn’t much of a rapid. You get to pick and navigating you way down several narrow serpentine rivulets. Another notable rapid after this is one I referred to as “Big Beaver Island”. It had a huge woodpile that blocks most of the river. This would be a great summer fishing spot as there are several nice undercut banks and wood structure to house big smallmouth.

FullSizeRender-10The best part is I didn’t see a single sign of man, aside from the occasional debris that washed downstream, until about 3.5 miles downstream when there is an old stone culvert on river right. About 200 past that I saw a few “No Trespassing” signs, but still, no buildings, fencing or other references of man. The only houses you see is one at the put in and one as approach HWY 1694. However, after you pass 1694, that changes as the river passes several McMansions.

FullSizeRender-4After Hwy 1694 the bluffs widen and soften and there are little or no rock formations at the rim. The river widens but the added water from Darby Creek fills it in where we still managed to make it down without scraping too much. Some sections require you pick the right path so you don’t ground out, but follow the current and you should be fine.

There are some rapids that end into what feels like a mile of flat water. Its a massive pool that takes some time to paddle through. After a while, the current picks up again and, although there are more pools, this is the longest one.

FullSizeRender-2There is one notable rapid. It is likely the toughest of the entire section, but it is sill only rated class II. I named it “Dos Piedras” (two rocks) as the current narrows and pushes into two slightly undercut rocks. Portage around it on the island and you’ll avoide dumping your canoe and gear.

From there the current keeps moving as you circle around the backside of Nevel Meade Golf Course, and you pass several nice houses as you approach Cover Bridge Road — takeout is on river left.

Visit this link for additional Harrods Creek paddling information.

Paddling the Brush Creek Section

Highway 53 — Hwy 393

My boys and I took full advantage of the 2015 flood, which came after our 12″ snow melted quickly thanks to 60 degree temperatures and over an inch of rain. We put our canoe on Harrods Creek at Highway 53, were we were pleased to find ample (safe) parking and an easy hike down to the river. We didn’t have a gauge, but the river level looked full and navigable so we put on.

“It was a beautiful and remote section. A great experience for my boys and me.”


The first stretch was narrow and it passed a few houses that we could see through the bare trees. The bottomland was open and flat with some farms along the way. About a mile and a half in we entered Ashbourne Farms and we entered into a smaller narrow canyon section with river bluffs and swifter current. At that point, we didn’t see any more houses and it was a nice wilderness, class II section with a few lower end class III waves.

BrushCreekAfter passing Brush Creek on river left, we came to a big island, and after that, we found what appeared to be a small cave/wet water spring opening at the top of one of the bluffs. After exploring that, we came upon the Heron Rookery that influenced the logo of the Harrods Creek Alliance. It appears that they were in the process of building up their nests for the spring mating season as some were less complete than others.

This unfortunate beaver met his fate attempting to cross the flooded creek.

This unfortunate beaver met his fate attempting to cross the flooded creek.

My son’s eye noticed an unfortunate beaver that must have drowned from the floodwaters in an attempt to cross the river to the island. We found him wrapped around some shrubs. I’m sure he paddled the river several times, but didn’t expect the current to be moving as fast as it must have been just the night before.

This was about a 5 mile section. We thought about continuing on, another 5 miles to Covered Bridge Road, but the boys were ready for the next adventure of the day.

The takeout at Highway 393 was less than ideal. You could get out of the creek easily enough at the bridge, but it was a slight bush-wack up to the road. The road had very small pull-offs and the few cars that did pass us were moving along pretty quick since we were at the bottom of the hill.

My goal is to paddle all of the sections and document the access and water levels needed so others can enjoy the creek. The sections above this have minimal access and would require a solid rain. I think the downstream portion will be equally as enjoyable.

Visit this link for additional Harrods Creek paddling information.