Welcome to our CCA (Canoe Cruisers Association) - ACA class. We have chosen to hold this class on the Little Falls run in the summer time for a large variety of reasons:

  • The Lock 5 area has adequate room for parking, facilities, and a wide grassy area for training purposes.
  • The put-in is a very short distance away by foot.
  • No need to set any shuttles - a HUGE plus.
  • We can find areas without a great deal of river traffic (unlike Old Angler's Inn which is used by all of the commercial vendors). Kayak classes practice rescue skills like throw ropes, swimming, etc.  This can be problematic in congested areas.
  • The water level stays very consistent, even when the main branch of the Potomac rises several feet.
  • This run has a large variety of water features and challenges. The main stem of the Potomac provides excellent and safe rapids to practice aggressive swimming techniques and isn't crowded.
  • Best of all, it is relatively local.

Little Falls - a Very Special Area

Just take a look at the list above. No where else in the nation provides free access to an area quite like Little Falls. This area is managed and protected by the US Park Service and yet with all these great features, it is almost never crowded. Compare Little Falls to Old Angler's Inn just upstream and you will understand why we chose this location. If you develop adequate skills to venture into more challenging whitewater, you will find the main branch of the Potomac has everything from class II all the way up to very solid class IV boating lines. This area also has the Lock 5 slackwater which is perfect for practicing all of the flat water strokes and skills.  Little Falls is one of the few places where you can keep both novices and advanced boaters quite happy and challenged. After this class, get out and practice on numerous rivers, consider taking the Little Falls Workout, and try out some slalom races in the Feeder Canal. Here is what the American Whitewater site has to say about this run: AW Little Falls Run.

Directions to Little Falls

Directions from the I-95 North:

  • I-95 South to the Capital Beltway (I-495)
  • I-495 West towards Bethesda
  • Exit 40 Cabin John Parkway South towards Clara Barton Parkway
  • Clara Barton Parkway towards Washington, DC
  • You will pass a White concrete building on your right (Brookmont Dam)
  • Pass Lock 6 and slow down
  • A short distance is Lock 5 which is a gravel parking lot - park here

Meet Your Instructors and Assistants

I have been whitewater boating for 30+ years in everything from kayaks, C Boats, open canoes, and rafts. I have also been teaching kayak and rescue classes for many years and for several clubs. I have taught numerous Little Falls Rescue clinics and lead annual Tucker County, WV - ACA joint rescue exercises. I am also both an ACA SWR and River Kayaking certified instructor.

I often co-teach this class with a variety certified instructors like Ron Ray,Tanya Marhefka, Jason Bates, Paul Englehart, Chris Garber, and others. I also get many very seasoned assistants like Tony Shea, Marcia Pradines, Jay Huber, and others.  Several have been teaching this class for many years and are excellent instructors.  I would also like to thank Calleva (and LAKs as well) - both have provided extensive support to our club classes for a number of years.

Provide details on your fellow instructors.

This is a club sponsored training class. As such, I am able to recruit a large number of experienced helpers. All of my assistants have completed at least one ACA Level 4 SWR class (most many more). Many of my co-instructors are dual certified in River Kayak and SWR. Each has their own special expertise like First Aid, Climbing, Video, etc. Many have been paddling for many years as well and can talk about rescues/incidents they have come across.

Describe your assistants.

This packet of information has a great deal of material I have learned over the years. I have distributed this packet before the class to aid in your training efforts. The packet of information should also be quite useful as you gain more experience and want additional training and resources. I would like to thank several people that have helped me out by reviewing this packet:

  • Sam Fowlkes
  • Robin Pope
  • Ron Ray
  • Michelle White
  • Jay Huber

Both the ACA SWR & River Kayaking classes provide a great foundation for safe boating. It is equally important to practice the various rescue skills throughout each season - especially throw rope practice. Each Little Falls Workout practices 5 rescue skills plus a variety of boat handling skills and is a great way to keep these skills sharp. I also recommend taking an ACA SWR refresher class periodically, especially with new instructors. Each instructor has different experiences that can broaden your knowledge base. Each Fall, we run a one day rescue scenarios class that is only open to Level 4 trained partcipants. This gives us a chance to try more difficult situations and is a great deal of fun.


Since this is an ACA class, we follow all of the rules and requirements of the ACA. Each student is required to sign liability waivers as part of class registration. I also have you complete a short medical disclosure form which helps alert us to potentially dangerous issues like severe allergies so we can learn where your medications are located in case they are needed.  The class registration packet is available at: CCA Class Registration. You will notice that we have both the ACA and the CCA waiver forms. Since we hold our classes on US National Park property, we can't accept paperwork or remittance on the day of the class. All proceeds from this class are used to cover various ACA expenses such as class registration fees and insurance. Instructors and assistants are not paid - we do this for the love of this sport. Hopefully you can join us as an assistant sometime down the road.