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Canoe Picnic On the Banks of the Potomac River in a Mad River Canoe | Scenic Views of the Potomac River by Canoe

Updated on March 25, 2012

Peaceful Day of Paddling Down the Potomac

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Yippee Skippee Mad River Canoe Trip

It was June 2009, a beautiful Saturday morning in Maryland. It was the day planned for the river picnic in our newly purchased Mad River canoe. Now mind you, I have been in a canoe all of one time maybe forty something years ago while at camp. My husband, the great excursionist, had it all figured out. We would tie the canoe to the top of the car and drive it to our launch zone some twenty miles north of Hancock, Maryland where we would park our truck to take out and reload at the end of our three hour cruise. I know, I know, I couldn't help myself. It was a great plan.

The Mad River canoe was purchased from a friend. It was a lovely canoe with gorgeous wooden rails and two very comfy wooden chairs with back rests. The canoe was 16 foot long and big enough to hold a family of four. The Potomac River is known for its under currents and can be quite violent after storm runoff, but today it was running at medium height and calmer than a week earlier after the storms came through. I was a little nervous, but excited too. Hubby had already taken the canoe on a maiden voyage a couple weeks earlier so he knew what to expect and how to navigate the river.

It was time to launch, life jackets on - check, paddles in canoe - check, sunscreen on - check, picnic basket on board - check, cell phone (just in case) - check, water - check, ok I think we're ready. After we walked somewhat into the water, I got in first and as hubby got in the canoe rocked to the side. I got my first flash of going in the drink. For some reason he thought that was hilarious. We were off and paddling into the Potomac River. What adventure was waiting around the next bend?

The Scenery Was Gorgeous Along the Banks of the Potomac River

As we gently paddled along, I learned how to spot the rocks ahead of us by the way the water would ripple a little. This gave us some advance notice so we could turn the canoe a little to avoid a head on collision with a water boulder. Is this sounding like fun? Just joshing. There were a couple really huge boulders that we missed by a few inches along the way. I was concerned a few times when the sides of the canoe scraped the rocks below, but hubby assured me it was fine.

On the banks, we observed a white-tailed doe refreshing herself in the distance. As we got a little closer, she tucked herself into the trees nearby all the while checking us out. A group of people where in a huge river tube floating down the river and swimming along side of it. There were lots of camp fires going for lunchtime grilling river cuisine, that kind of made us hungry. It was time to rest for our picnic lunch. Hubby remembered a place from his previous trip that would be a good place to rest the canoe while having our picnic. Over to the side of the river was a sandy pebbled embankment good for resting the bottom. We navigated over out of the river current and the canoe came to a rest. The sun was a scorcher out there on the river, we were happy to get some shade from the trees hanging over the embankment during our picnic to cool off a little. I was very glad to have made the decision to where my all weather long sleeved shirt. It whisked the water off my skin and kept me cool from the sun.

Of course we had to nose around the shoreline while we were resting. I found fresh water oysters along the river banks and lots of other little shells. I was sure to check under the big rock BEFORE SITTING, just in case, my hubby thought that was also hilarious.... what is up with that.

Exploring the Banks of the River

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Rapids? Did You Say Rapids?

Hubby forgot to mention that there is a small area of fast moving water like rapids we had to pass through after lunch. As we caught glimpse of the rapids ahead and started to approach the area, my heart starting pounding.  I felt at the mercy of the water. Hubby assured me it was going to be fine and taught me how to paddle to keep the canoe straight into the current so we would not turn over... did you say turn over? Are we having fun yet?

As we entered the fast moving water, the canoe sped up with the pace of the river and my rock navigation had to step it up a notch. We did scrape a few times, but not too badly. After a few minutes we were clear of the rapids and the canoe continued to cruise with the river current as we were in a little deeper water.  That was enough excitement for one trip, the rest was smoothe ride. Breathing a little easier now, taking in the sunshine, the view of the mountains, listening to river birds singing, watching occasional wildlife was all a real thrill. It was like a day of Animal Planet.

Launched Twenty miles north Orleans Exit off I-68W: Came Off The River in Hancock, Maryland: This is a great place to park

Hancock, maryland:
Hancock, MD 21750, USA

get directions

The End of a Perfect Day on the Potomac River

High Quality Canoe Products




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    • Golfgal profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from McKinney, Texas

      Hey Kathy O, thanks for the visit and yes he is. L

    • profile image

      Kathy Otey 

      7 years ago

      amazing story, my brother is a hoot! love ya

    • Golfgal profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from McKinney, Texas

      Hey Simone, sorry you missed the picnic...maybe next time. You a dolt...never.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Oh, how lovely! I want to go on a canoe picnic! Now I feel like a dolt for not doing more fun things on the Potomac when I had the chance @_@

    • Golfgal profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from McKinney, Texas

      You Go Q girl!!!

    • profile image 

      7 years ago

      I really did not think I was - although I love being outside - I am on the porches more than inside. I did really enjoy myself. We really had a great time being away from everyone we knew - learned a lot about talking on the internet! Looking forward to going back on the road ASAP...

    • Golfgal profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from McKinney, Texas

      E and, thanks for the thumbs up. Yes, it was a wonderful day with lovely sites. I cannot imagine camping for 18, you are an outdoor girl ques.

    • profile image 

      7 years ago

      Beautiful pictures and what fun! My husband and I went 'camping' for a 18 months and had a hoot!

      keep going outdoors and enjoying I agreed with medor - it does keep you young!

      another vote up!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      7 years ago from Wales

      A great hub with beautiful pictures. it is only since jouining HP that I have developed an interest in photography.

      I could look at photos all day and combined with our words they make great hubs.

      Thank you for sharing.

      Take care


    • Golfgal profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from McKinney, Texas

      Hi medor, Thanks for visiting and paddling with me. MN is lovely. Yippee Skippee. Come again soon.

    • medor profile image


      7 years ago from Michigan, USA

      Excellent, love the photos, you are brave to take your camera in the canoe... my husband and I also canoe, we did 5 days in the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area in MN last summer... keep canoeing, it keeps you young...


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