When most people think of kayaking, Maryland isn’t usually the first paddling destination that comes to mind. But in the westernmost corner of this small Mid-Atlantic state are some pretty rugged mountains and world-class paddling that draw adventurous souls from all around the world.
For the river rat, the Deep Creek Lake area is a paddling paradise. The Adventure Sports Center International (ASCI) in McHenry is a great training ground for slalom paddlers and those just getting into the sport. This year, the ASCI hosted the 2014 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships, a testament to the quality of this mountaintop whitewater center’s course.
Deep Creek Lake itself is a popular summertime destination for flatwater activities like standup paddle boarding and fishing, but the nearby town of Friendsville, Md., is where you’ll find the happenin’ scene. The Upper section of the Youghiogheny River is a world-renowned class IV-V run that releases every weekend in the summer. The takeout for the Upper Yough ends right in Friendsville, and it’s not uncommon to drive through town on a Monday and see nearly every car pass by with a kayak, raft, or shredder strapped to the roof. For post-paddle eats, stop by and see Chris at Water Street Café (his pepperoni and veggie rolls are off the chart) or dig in at the Riverside Hotel’s all-vegetarian restaurant.
If you can time it right, paddle the Upper Yough one day and hit the nearby Savage River the next. The Savage has a long history of sporadic release schedules in the summertime, but catch it on a day it’s running and you’ll be well-rewarded with some of Maryland’s best class III-IV whitewater.
In the wintertime, Deep Creek Lake receives an average of 100 inches of snowfall per season, turning this kayaking hotspot into a powder hound hub. Wisp Resort has over 172 acres of ski terrain and has every snowsport activity imaginable—from cross-country skiing to snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and alpine skiing and snowboarding.
LOCAL LOWDOWN: Mike Logsdon
Executive Director and Professor at the Garrett College Adventuresports Institute; Executive Director of the Adventure Sports Center International
Favorite outdoor activity: In the summertime, paddling class I thru class V whitewater on any of the 20+ sections of the five major rivers that are within a 50-mile radius, and in the wintertime, ski patrolling.
Favorite local spot: Wisp Resort
“I’ve lived here for 38 years. What’s great about [the Deep Creek Lake area] is the distinct 4-season climate, diverse geology, the challenge of “meeting what’s thrown at you,” and being immersed in a recreational area, which provides a clean industry with constantly changing, new, and interesting visitors.”