North Branch of the Potomac River

The North Branch of the Potomac River sources in Fairfax Stone State Park at a spring beneath the Fairfax Stone, which formerly marked the western extent of land awarded Thomas Fairfax by the British Crown. It flows 27 miles northeastward through the highlands of the Allegheny Mountains to Jennings Randolph Lake, after which it descends rapidly through a twisting route into the valleys of the branches of the Potomac River. The North Branch joins the South Branch of the Potomac River near South Branch, WV, where the two merge to form the Potomac River.

The north branch between Jennings Randolph Lake and Piedmont, WV, is a popular whitewater rafting and kayaking stream. Large areas of the river are protected by parks and preserves. Part of the Allegheny Wildlife Management Area adjoins the North Branch near Elk Garden, WV, and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park follows the Maryland bank of the branch from its mouth upstream to Cumberland near Ridgeley, WV.

North Branch Communities

From source to mouth, the following select cities, towns, and villages are located on or near the North Branch of the Potomac River.

Henry, WV
Bayard, WV
Elk Garden, WV
Kitzmiller, WV
Piedmont, WV
Keyser, WV
Rocket Center, WV
Maryland Junction, WV
Cumberland, MD
Ridgeley, WV
Wiley Ford, WV
Patterson Creek, WV
Green Spring, WV
South Branch, WV

Variant Name

Cohongoronton, Kahun-gulta, North Branch, North Branch River, North Branch Potomac River, North Branch Patamac River

Regional Information

Information on lodging, dining, and recreation on and near the lower North Branch River, downstream of Piedmont, WV, may be found in our guide to travel in the Allegheny Highlands Region. Information for the central segment or river, below Piedmont, may found in the Potomac Branches Region.

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