Paddle from Taylor’s Landing to Shepherdstown, on SUP

9 September 2022

Standup Paddle-board / 8.34 miles / 2 hrs 18 minutes / River level 4.2 ft

Me! On the river! 🙂

Since moving to the Harpers Ferry area three years ago, the rivers have exerted a quiet, subtle pull on my adventure cravings. They form a natural routes between places; an alternative way to travel from A to B that complements other mountain activities.

I grew up windsurfing and sailing, but swapped wetsuits for crampons when I went to university and took up mountaineering. But recently, I’ve come full circle and am getting back into water-sports.

I first tried paddle-boarding in 2016 on the Chesapeake Bay (where jellyfish kept me focused on staying standing!). I’ve been hooked since.

Taylor’s Landing to Shepherdstown

The route from Taylor’s Landing to Shepherdstown

This route is a beautiful stretch of the Potomac river, with little development and only a moderate current and nothing more than a few ripples to contend with. It’s ideal for learning to paddle on rivers. It’s featured in Johnny Molloy’s book on the greatest paddling adventures in the area.

On this particular day, I was joined by my friend Chuck, which meant we could shuttle a car and avoid any upstream paddling.

View from the boat ramp at Taylor’s Landing

The water moves swiftly past Taylor’s Landing as the river is shallow and half way through a 200-degree sweeping bend.

Beyond here, it settles down, and we encountered nothing more than a few ripples and occasional boils and swirls. Certainly no whitewater.

But it is extremely scenic and quiet. We only saw two other kayakers in the whole 8 mile stretch.

Both banks are tree-lined the whole way, and at one stage we saw a bald eagle swoop by.

Chuck paddling on the Potomac
Typical scenery on this stretch of the river
Home on the water

The takeout is the Shepherdstown boat ramp, on the right bank of the river.

This was a great day out and I’m already planning more adventures on this and other sections of the Potomac. Next year (2023), I want to try low-grade whitewater on the SUP, so I can include the Harpers Ferry section of the rivers into trips.

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