Potomac river trip. Need some help.

I’m currently planning on a multi day kayak trip on the Potomac. I want to do a stretch from williamsport,md to just past great falls. I can’t figure out how to measure the river on google earth tho. If it’s to long then I will have to shorten it. I’m ok with doing a 4-5 day kayak trip. It’s only two of us and we just want a good stretch of river to paddle and relax on. We live in southern Maryland so we don’t want to drive to to far to get started. If someone could help me figure out the distance between Williamsport and great falls I would appreciate it. Any other info or advice on places to camp or things to watch out for is appreciated.

On Google Earth along the top there is a ruler icon, click on that. In the box that opens up there is a drop down menu for what units of measurement you want to use. Just create your path along the potomac, you can color each days distance differently and everything.

Can I do more then two points in a measurement? Do they have to be titled? I tried to do this last night and couldn’t figure it out.

if you switch on the path tab of the box that opens up you can make as many points as you would like

besides Google Earth path tool
you can also use the C&O towpath mile markers to estimate river mileage, since the towpath mostly follows the river.


this site’s map is clickable so that you can study a detailed map of each section, which will also help you find the established hiker/biker campsites and other landmarks:


however, getting up the river banks could be challenging in some places.

if you want to go past Great Falls, the portage should be interesting…

a couple more sites
that may be helpful to you



Further up
I suggest you start further up river. Put in at spring gap and go to Hancock. This is a quieter stretch of water and there is no dams to portage. Depending on your distance each day it can be a three or four day trip.

If you camp at paw paw and little Orleans it makes about a 20 mile trip each day.

Spring Gap to Hancock
is the trip I had hoped to do this week, except that the gauge at Paw Paw has hit 20’ three times in the past 10 days… I went to Tuckahoe Creek instead and had a fabulous time.

Memorial day
I am doing this memorial day weekend. Hopefully the water levels will be back to normal!

yet again
the Potomac is hitting amazingly scary levels today… peaked just under 20’ at Paw Paw and 17’ at Hancock… pushing 84,000 CFS at Little Falls and still rising.