Self-Guided Opportunities
Canoeing and Kayaking
Location Harford County, Route 136 to Susquehanna State Park.
Susquehanna State Park, 410-557-7994
Access Site Access the creek on the downstream, north side of the Route 136 Bridge over Deer Creek. Take out at the mouth of Deer Creek, just before the railroad trestle.
River Trip Distance 8.9 miles
Time 3 hours
Water Conditions The creek is swift, flat water with some sections of gravelly riffles. Canoeable winter and spring within a week of hard rain. The U.S. Geological Survey gauge along Maryland Route 24 at the lower end of Rocks State Park should read at least 2.5 feet. There is also a canoe gauge painted on the right downstream concrete support of the Sandy Hook Road Bridge.
Skill Level Moderate to difficult
Suitable For Families? No
Hazards/Restrictions Fences and fallen trees can obstruct the watercourse. This section of the creek traverses two low-head dams at Nobles Mill and Wilson's Mill. Carefully scout them before crossing them. Experienced canoeists can run them (run middle). Private property ajoins Deer Creek. Observe no trespassing signs and act with respect and courtesy while on the river. Water levels rise rapidly in the Susquehanna River due to releases from the Conowingo Dam. Carefully check water levels before entering the Susquehanna River and watch for the signals warning of a release.
Potable Water Carry in your own water.
Natural Features Deer Creek rises in the pasturelands of York County, Pennsylvania, and wanders across a corner of Baltimore County and the width of Harford County to join the Susquehanna River below Conowingo Dam. The creek winds about a narrow, rural valley. The scenery is composed of a mixture of woodlands, working farms and country estates. The banks are mostly unblemished by cottages, shacks or other eyesores. The creek has been designated by the State of Maryland as a State Scenic Creek. A gorge-like section within Susquehanna State Park preceding Stafford Bridge is especially scenic.
Historic/Cultural Features Several former gristmills are found along this section of the creek. The first one encountered is Nobles Mill (1854) about 2 miles after the put-in. Wilson's Mill (1684) is located 4.8 miles past the put-in. A former iron blast furnace is found near Stafford Bridge. Finally, the Rock Run Historic Area of Susquehanna State Park includes the operating Rock Run Mill, the Jersey Tollhouse, Tidewater Canal and lock, Archer Mansion and Rock Run Grist Mill.
Guiding Check with Susquehanna State Park office for a listing of park-sponsored programs.
Rentals Canoes can be rented in Jarrettsville. Kayaks can be rented in Chase from Ultimate Watersports, 410-666-WIND.
Camping Camping is available at Susquehanna State Park. Accommodations include mini-cabins. Call 1-888-432-2267 for reservations.
Other Points of Interest Numerous trails are located within Susquehanna State Park, including the Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway Trail that parallels the river, providing excellent views and great birding and wildflower watching opportunities. An interesting lunch spot is on Wood Island, owned by Susquehanna State Park and located just across from the Rock Run Historic Area. To visit Wood Island continue past the take-out into the Susquehanna River and onto the long narrow island (watch for other boat traffic and water levels -- Conowingo Dam has scheduled releases). Call Conowingo Dam for a list of scheduled releases, 410-457-4076.
The island has remains of bridge piers that once supported a covered bridge over the Susquehanna River. These are located just opposite the Jersey Tollhouse. Return via the same route to take out at the mouth of Deer Creek. Fishing for trout, shad and numerous species during spawning seasons is popular in Deer Creek and the Susquehanna River. Be careful of the anglers' lines and avoid opening day after stocking season.
Other Accommodations Bed and breakfasts are located in Darlington and Havre de Grace. Motels are located in Perryville and Aberdeen.
Fees or Permits A $2 per person service charge is in effect at the picnic area within Susquehanna State Park.
Description This section of creek begins as swift moving flatwater. Some excitement soon happens as the creek approaches the site of Nobles Mill, a former gristmill, approximately two miles after the put-in. A crumbling 3.5 foot dam above the mill provides a rapid. Experienced whitewater canoeists can run it in the middle (scout first). In approximately another three miles, just before Route 161, a sloping three-foot dam at Wilson's Mill is runnable, although canoes will "clunk over."
Anglers and visitors are attracted to this dam, which is surrounded by trees and shrubbery forming an enchanting scene of rustic beauty and rural life. After passing under Route 161, the next three miles visit a wooded gorge-like setting in Susquehanna State Park, just prior to the Stafford Bridge. Nearby the bridge are the remains of an iron blast furnace. The last mile of the creek slows considerably. The take-out is muddy due to the creek dropping its debris at the mouth. Take out is on the right just before passing under the railroad trestle at the junction of Deer Creek with the Susquehanna River. For variety, canoe on toward Wood Island in the Susquehanna River across from Deer Creek for a lunch stop, then return to the creek for take-out.

Resources Recommended Gear and Safety Tips
  • Spare paddles
  • Knee pads
  • Hat
  • Water
  • Insect repellant
  • Canoe or kayak
  • Personal flotation devices (life jackets)
  • Appropriate shoes that can get wet
  • Throw ropes and a bowline