Solo adventure on the Octoraro
Kayak from Horseshoe Rd to Conowingo Park
USGS Octoraro Gauge | 200cfs
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Kayak Drop In | New Bridge and Horseshoe Rd
The Octoraro Creek is a 22.1-mile-long tributary of the Susquehanna River. Originating in Pennsylvania it crosses into Maryland in northern Cecil County just northwest of the Town of Rising Sun. It joins the Susquehanna’s River about 9 miles north of the Chesapeake Bay just south of the Conowingo Dam.
I was solo paddling on this trip and as such had to arrange transportation from Conowingo Park, the take out location, to the drop in location that I had selected at the bridge crossing near Horseshoe and New Bridge Roads. The drop in location is on the Southwest side of the bridge, and is a narrow steep pathway from a bus turnaround loop. There is signage that prohibits parking here during morning and afternoon hours during weekdays.
It was a cool October afternoon on the water. The shadows of the trees kept the sun from me the majority of the trip but on a few occasions it shined through the trees and gave me some warmth. For the most part the faster moving water of the Octoraro was shallow, but easily navigable. Deep pools were broken up by small brisk rapids as the creek meandered its course. Most rapids are around a Class I-II but there is one specific part where the larger current ran directly into a large boulder. It took me a minute to formulate my maneuver, mainly because I wanted to avoid getting too wet!
There is remnants of a dam removed from the creek just before arriving at the Rt.1 bridge. The water level of the creek was too shallow to allow me to paddle across and I had to reluctantly portage the kayak 50 yards or so around to deeper water. In other accounts of this run it seems that a flow of 350cfs will allow you to clear this area with no problem.
As you near the end of the trip the creek runs beneath a few old rail road bridges, two of which cross over each other in a unique fashion. The take out location that I chose was steep and sandy, just after the rt.222 bridge and the walk back to the car was 300 yards or more. If I had to do it over I would have paddled just a bit further and used a more trafficked exit near to where the Octoraro enters the Susquehanna.