Spend the day on the water: Tubing down a MD river

OnTheWater Tubing2WBy Katie Riley

Updated June 2017

There is no better way to spend a hot summer day than tubing down a local river in Maryland. For our third installment in our Spending the Day on the Water series we are covering places to tube.

The term "lazy river" can't begin to sum up the pleasures of floating downstream on a tube. Tubing is a great activity for families with children of all ages, since most local rivers have only a slight current and a flat topography. Each of these venues provides life jackets for little ones and a choice of excursions for a brief tubing jaunt, or a longer float downstream.

Gunpowder River, Monkton

Monkton Bike Shop co-owner Dan Heinecke says the Gunpowder River is a great escape for families with children of all ages. The water is calm and knee-deep in most parts so it's suitable for families with young children, he says. Choose a 90-minute or a 2½-hour route.
Monkton Bike Shop provides tubes, life jackets and trail maps to various starting points. The closest drop-in point is a 15-minute walk down a wooded path that begins just outside their shop. Parking is available at Monkton Bike Shop or throughout the town of Monkton.

Monkton Bike Shop
Tube rentals: adults $25-30 per day, children $15 per day
1900 Monkton Road, Monkton
443-212-5951
monktonbike.com

Patapsco River, Baltimore

Get instant relief from the summer heat by spending an afternoon floating down the Patapsco River. Bring your own tube or rent equipment in advance from nearby Terrapin Adventures, which will provide a life vest, tube and map of a 1.8-mile tubing trip on the river. Terrapin will deliver equipment to the park for a fee.
Park on River Road and hike across the swinging bridge at Ilchester Road to just below Bloede Dam before dropping in for a calm, easy float along the forested river. Kids can splash their way to the Gun Road Bridge before emerging or keep drifting down river to the Halethorpe area. The slight current and shallow water make it appropriate for all ages.

Patapsco Valley State Park, Avalon Area
5120 South St., Baltimore
410-461-5005
Entrance fee: $2 per in-state vehicle on weekdays, $3 per person on weekends and holidays
dnr.state.md.us

Terrapin Adventures
301-725-1313
terrapinadventures.com

Antietam Creek, Sharpsburg

Only an hour from Washington, D.C., families can get a taste of history while tubing down Antietam Creek in Sharpsburg. The spring-fed waters of this beginner-level whitewater stream will ensure a cool escape. The Class I rapids and deeper water are perfect for families with older children hoping for a faster pace, and a brief taste of Class II rapids at the end of the journey will have them whooping with joy.
Guides from River and Trail Outfitters pack a picnic and share some history as they lead the 4-hour excursion past landmarks like the historic Burnside Bridge, part of the Antietam National Battlefield.

River & Trail Outfitters
Four-hour tubing excursion, including gear and picnic lunch: $47 per adult, $45 per child 12 and under
Antietam Creek excursion: Ages 7 and up, 50 lbs minimum
604 Valley Road, Knoxville
301-695-5177
rivertrail.com

Be sure to see the other parts to the series Spend the day on the water: Fishing with the family,  Spend the day on the water: Paddling a kayak, canoe or paddleboat and Spend the day on the water: Sailing on the Chesapeake Bay