Tubing in Baltimore County, MD

On June 25th a friend wanted to go tubing in and around Baltimore. Neither of us had tubed before and due to Google exhalting Harpers Ferry as the place to go, our expectations were low. Though Harpers Ferry is far away, so we found info about tubing in Monkton and thought to try it out.

Well this fateful trip inspired a new passion and in turn the creation of this Tubing MD web resource. If you haven't gone tubing you are missing out and river tubing in Monkton is one of the best local spots. Other local spots we've enjoyed so far are Rocks State Park (Harford County) & Patapsco State Park (Howard County).

As seen on the map below there are five river entry and exit points for you to choose from. We have listed each entry & exit points' address here; all provide either side street parking or a parking area. Overall, you could enjoy a 10 hour float from start to finish or enjoy the popular two to three hour tour from Blue Mount Rd Big Falls Rd to Monkton Rd.


View Tubing Gunpowder Trail Map in a larger map

On this journey down the Gunpowder we brought some family members along who were interested in a three hour tour. We didn't have our own tubes, so we rented some from Monkton Bike for $25 to $30 per tube. Monkton Bike shuttled us (no shuttle this year) to Big Falls Rd. and got our journey started.

Tubing here is great because it provides a safe ten mile stretch, the water is clean, the trees provide some shade from the sun and the crowds are friendly. We do want to note the water is a chilly 55 to 60 degrees, but it feels great on a hot summer day!

As seen in the video we brought along a small child, which might not have been the greatest idea. You might want to hold off on bringing your real little ones along if they have a fear of water or as most kids do, lack patience. It is after all, a leisurely float down a two foot river with mild rapids here and there.

Have you tubed here before? We'd love to hear your experience in the comment section.

Before you go check how deep the water is here; optimal depth for tubing in these parts is between 1.7 feet or above.

UPDATE 2014: As noted above & in the comments, there no longer is a shuttle. The loss of shuttle service is due to the residents of the area driving Monkton Bike's competitor out of business and halting any & all type of shuttling to the river. See a long list of articles on this saga here.

River entry options now are walking up the NCR, entering the river and floating back down to your car on Monkton Rd. Also, you can take two cars and with one transport tubes & tubers up to Big Falls Rd or another river entry point.


Comments (52)

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Princess_Crabcake's avatar

Princess_Crabcake · 102 weeks ago

Thanks for this site and your maps! We're going for the first time tomorrow and now know exactly where to get in. We're going to park at Monkton Station and walk the NCR Trail up to Blue Mount.
7/7/12 - 5 hour float from Monkton Rd entry to Sparks Rd exit. Water level (as stated at link above) was 1.80. There was a slow current most of the way, some small rapids. Only several spots where water was deeper than 2-3 feet. Saw about 5 other groups in the water during our midday trip. Exit on left of river, either just before Sparks Rd bridge, or appx. 10 feet after the bridge. Both exits are steep and muddy. May be difficult exit for younger children who are too big to carry or hand up from river to adult standing above. Easy exit for adults and middle schoolers. Noote Sparks Nature Center is closed. No bathrooms in Sparks. We brought our own tubes and two cars - left one in Sparks, drove to Monkton, parked, and put into the river there. Parking at Sparks was almost full by 10 am Saturday. Lots of parking at Monkton at 10:15 am Saturday.
6 replies · active 100 weeks ago
Your Baltimore County tubing entry and exit points show that "parking areas" are available at all points (#1-#6).
What denotes "parking areas" at each of these locations?
Are they parking lots or parking on the road's shoulder?
Is parking on the road's shoulder legal (assuming there are no blatant "No Parking" signs) ?

Thanks for the information!
TheDadHere's avatar

TheDadHere · 50 weeks ago

7/4/13 - We used your site to help plan our first tubing experience on the Gunpowder. I am quite familiar with the NCR Trail from Monkton south but river info was very helpful. Thanks so much! For my wife and me, it was our first tubing in about 35 years. We used to tube on the Monocacy near Frederick when we were dating back in the 70's. Our adult daughter went along this time for her first tubing in MD. She had recently tubed for the very first time with her sister near San Antonio, TX. We found your site helpful to estimate times, check water levels (2.1 ft today and quite sufficient), and decide our points of access and egress. We decided to put in at Monkton Road and exit at Corbett Road. I would say that the site's indication that all entry and exit points have "either side street parking or a parking area" is a bit of an overstatement as it applies to Corbett Road. We managed though. We took our own tubes, parked along Falls Road a bit north of the Corbett Road bridge, took a second vehicle up to Monkton Road and parked it there (lots and lots of folks there), and had a fabulous and relaxing float down. It took us maybe 90 minutes of river time and left us wanting to come back for a longer excursion. I guess nearly all of the other folks at Monkton must have been going upstream for entry and floating back down to there, because we sure didn't see them on the river...only 3 tubing girls and a couple of kayakers. We are looking forward to coming back soon for a Monkton-to-Glencoe float.
4 replies · active 47 weeks ago
There is no longer a shuttle!
1 reply · active 49 weeks ago
You can no longer get shuttle service in monkton, all the a holes that live on the river ruined it for us.
http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2012-07-08/news/...
2 replies · active 47 weeks ago
Thanks for the site. The wife and I are heading to Monkton Bike Shop later today to try tubing for the first time. With the heat and no shuttles, I think we might only make the trek to the first starting point on Blue Mt Road. If we like tubing I may buy my own. Which leads me to the question of taking two cars and parking. Is there legal parking on Blue Mt Road or Big Falls Road near the entrance points. I would hate to get tickets parking on the side of the road, but would prefer the two car method, as opposed to walking with the tubes great distances. I will report back on how our first trip went, if we go.
1 reply · active 49 weeks ago
We went tubing 2012 summer and was able to use the shuttle service provided.. This year I had back surgery and it is hard to walk distance and we were told that there will be no shuttle service. any adice on what we can do?
1 reply · active 49 weeks ago
potential tuber's avatar

potential tuber · 48 weeks ago

How long is the tubing if your carrying the tubes. We heard its a 15 min hike is it still a 3 hour tubing? or is that if we drive to another point on the river. Is it hard to do with kids age 7 and up?
3 replies · active 48 weeks ago
Christine's avatar

Christine · 48 weeks ago

I had the same question regarding the hike with the tubes. I have three kids (8-13 yrs old) and wanted to tube with them, but obviously can't manage the 2 car option w/out a second driver. The Monkton Bike Shop web site says that a 15 min. hike up the trail will result in a 1 to 1-1/2 hour float down to Monkton Road. How accurate is this? Don't want to set the kids up for a disappointing trip, though a short one might be better for first timers!
1 reply · active 48 weeks ago
What if you do not have the two car option? Can you really get an hour long tubing trip if you put your tube in the water just a 10 min walk up the river and down to Monkton Road as outlined in the tubing instructions on the Monkton Bike Shop website?
1 reply · active 48 weeks ago
I tubed last year at the Monkton Bike Shop and their times are pretty accurate. We walked for about 15-20 minutes and got in at the first entrance and we floated for about 1.5 hours. I was skeptical too but the river curves and has a lot of turns so it takes 1.5 hours give or take.

We are going this Saturday and going to try the 30 minute walk up NCR to get in the second entrance.
Are dogs allowed
1 reply · active 47 weeks ago
Our family is planning a group float this week with adults and children ages 8-16. We will definitely use the 2 car shuttle plan. Are there any areas to picnic along the walking trail or nearby once our float is done? Would you recommend we do the Monkton Rd to Corbett Rd float? Our group will be @ 15 total. Thank you for great information on this website.
2 replies · active 47 weeks ago
Hi!! Has anyone tubed Monkton to Sparks in the past couple of weeks ( today is July 30th 2013). Just wondering how long it took you and if there were any hard spots.

Lat weekend we tubed from Bunker HIll Rd to Monkton and it took 7 hours. It was FUN, but we had to portage a couple of times and climb over a 4 foot thick fallen tree across the river. it was do-able, but not for those who have very small kids or are unable to climb.

River temp at Bunker Hill rd was REALLY cold. Closer to the Dam I expect is the reason why. It warmed as we got to The quarry area, near Blue Mountain Rd. Rapids after Big Falls road were EXCELLENT :)
2 replies · active 46 weeks ago
Hi, where exactly do you put in at Big Falls Road? I'm looking at the maps and don't see an obvious point. Also, can you put in at Blue Mount if you can find a parking spot? How long a float from there? Thanks.
Thanks for putting this resource together. I was snooping around looking for info on Deer Creek, but though I'd suggested a stretch of the Gunpowder that I'm familiar with, just below Loch Raven Dam. Starting @ Loch Raven Dr. ending @ Harford Rd. It's about a 2 hour float. One caveate, water needs to be flowing over the dam to give enough depth. Hasn't been a problem so far this summer. Check it out!
The first entry point to big falls was deff more than two hours, probably three. It hadn't rained in a few days but many shallow spots, trees down everywhere, had to get out of the water a lot. After big falls road is very fun with many mild rapids. Next time will go farther from there and see how it is.
RiverTuber's avatar

RiverTuber · 2 days ago

Hello! I just found out about Tubing in Maryland and was looking for a good place to go. What would be the Ideal place to to with kids age range from 5 to 13?
Park one car at 1780 Monkton Rd and drive up with all your tubes and family to 17440 Big Falls Rd Monkton, MD 21111. Start tubing here and float back on down to 1780 Monkton Rd. It's about 2 to 2.5 hours of a float.

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