Palmer State Park

​Canoeing and Kayaking

  • A launch area is not available in Palmer State Park. Paddlers can explore Deer Creek by putting in upstream. Deer Creek meanders through Palmer State Park, following a forested gorge and travelling through a boulder garden.
  • Deer Creek is a Scenic River, as officially designated by the Maryland Scenic and Wild River Review Board. A Scenic River is a “free-flowing river whose shoreline and related land are predominantly forested, agricultural, grassland, marshland, or swampland with a minimum of development for at least 2 miles of the river length."
  • Paddlers can put in at Rocks State Park, at the Ma and Pa parking area (heading north on Maryland Route 24, this is the first small parking area on the right after Cherry Hill Road).
  • Please note that just upstream of the Ma and Pa parking area, in Rocks State Park, is a 150-yard series of Class 3 rapids. This area is closed to swimming and tubing. Only experienced whitewater paddlers should attempt to paddle this stretch. It is recommended that you portage around this section of water.
  • The entire length of Deer Creek in Palmer State Park is open to swimming, tubing and paddling.
  • Total trip distance from Rocks State Park to Maryland Route 136 is 15.5 miles. For the average paddler, this trip should take about 6-8 hours.
  • This section of water is only passable by canoe when the U.S. Geological Survey gauge along Maryland Route 24 at the lower end of Rocks State Park reads at least 2.5 feet, which is generally in the spring.
  • Fallen trees and debris can obstruct the creek. Outside of the state park areas, Deer Creek is bordered by private property. Please observe no trespassing signs, act responsibly and respect private property when on the creek.
  • For more information on this route, please contact the Deer Creek Watershed Association. The organization's website is:

Recommended Gear and Safety Tips

  • Favorite canoe or kayak
  • Personal flotation devices (life jackets) for every paddler/vessel occupant
  • Appropriate shoes that can get wet
  • Throw-ropes and a bowline
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Water and snacks