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From Greenfield Mills to White’s Ferry

Because of major storm and river damage to the Greenfield Mills area caused by Agnes in 1972, and the destruction of the bridge that crossed the Monocacy River at that time, the starting point for this Trail is Park Mills Road bridge, a few hundred yards south of Greenfield Mills. There is very easy access to the Monocacy, including a boat ramp, under the Park Mills Road bridge.

This pleasant 3 hour route takes you 4 miles down the Monocacy River to the Potomac and thence 5½ miles more to White’s Ferry.

1. Greenfield Mills Put-In/ Park Mills Road Put-In
For the more adventuresome, you may enter the Monocacy at the Greenfield Mills Put-In.  To reach the river at this point, turn north off Maryland Route 28 onto Greenfield Road approximately 1¼ miles west of the Monocacy River bridge. The turn is immediately past the Forest Grove United Methodist Church. Proceed ¾ mile down the rural road to the point where the road turns left by 90 degrees.

Alternatively, you may wish to use the Park Mills Put-In, a nearby downstream access to the Monocacy River under the south side of the Park Mills Road bridge. This high modern bridge was constructed to replace the old washed out bridge at Greenfield Mills. To reach the bridge, turn north off Maryland Route 28 onto Park Mills Road, about ¼ mile west of the Monocacy River bridge. Drive about one mile on Park Mills Road, turning left into the parking area just before crossing the concrete Park Mills Road bridge. The boat ramp is immediately under the bridge.

2. Greenfield Mills
The Greenfield Mills Post Office, established here (see #1, above) in 1836 took its name from a four-story stone grist mill built sometime prior to 1831 for a Mr. Isaac McPherson of Baltimore.

3. Rock Dams in Monocacy
300 to 400 yards downstream from the put-in point, V-shaped ripples stretching across the river reveal the underwater location of a loose-rock dam used in Colonial times, and probably earlier by Indians, to trap fish. Two more such V-dams may be observed approximately 100 to 150 yards apart at a point some 400 yards below the first dam mentioned above.

4. Furnace Branch and The Johnson Furnace
Just upstream from the Route 28 highway bridge (1/2 hour of easy paddling below the put-in point), Furnace Branch enters the Monocacy on the left. The shallow crossing of the Monocacy at this point is known as Furnace Ford (canoes should bear to the right to negotiate the Class I rapid which lies immediately beyond this ford).

5. Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Viaduct
This impressive bridge is another 20 minute leisurely paddle downstream from the highway bridge. Because of its length (700 feet) and height (75 feet), trains pass over it at reduced speed.

6. C & O Canal Monocacy River Aqueduct
It is well worth your while to beach the canoe for a brief tour on foot to inspect this remarkable structure.

7. Indian Flats
This is a local name for the wide bottomlands north of the Monocacy near its confluence with the Potomac.

8. PEPCO Plant
The major portion of this electric generating plant was built in the 1950s as a 575 Mw coal fired plant. 
As of this date (2020), 95% of electricity generated at the plant is the result of natural gas combustion. Also, as of this date, the plant is being operated by GenOn Energy Holdings.

9. White’s Ford
Approximately two miles downstream from the PEPCO plant, this shallow crossing of the Potomac was used by General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in September, 1862, at the beginning of the Antietam campaign.

10. Mason Island Fish Weirs
Several fish traps in the form of loose rock dams are to be found in the channels between Mason Island and both the Virginia and Maryland shores. They are discernible as V-shaped lines of ripples, often with a mound of sand and debris which has built up at the downstream apex of the V.

11. White’s Ferry
This is the only Potomac River ferry now operating along the whole length of the river from Washington, DC to Cumberland, and it is the only “captive” (cable-guided) fresh water ferry on the East Coast today.

Distances and Times
Greenfield Mills/Park Mills Road bridge (Put-In) to Route 28 bridge – 2 miles (3/4 hour)
Route 28 to Potomac River – 2 miles (1/2 hour)
Potomac River (Monocacy mouth) to White’s Ferry  - 5 ½ miles (1 ¾ hours)

Canoe Rental
Canoes may be rented at White’s Ferry. Information about canoe rentals and other services can be obtained by calling White’s Ferry at 301-349-5200, between the hours of 7:00am and 7:00pm. The rental services are available from May 1 through October 31.

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