Watershed Profile - Sideling Hill Creek
Sideling Hill Creek is designated to have “exceptional value”, Pennsylvania’s highest water quality classification, and the Sidling Hill Creek Watershed is an area rich in biological diversity. One reason for this designation is that Sideling Hill Creek packs 287 stream and tributary miles into a 100 square mile land area of deep narrow valleys and steep forested ridges. The Sideling Hill Creek Watershed houses a sparse population and remains three-fourths forested. Only about 2200 residents live in the watershed.
The Sideling Hill Creek watershed contains numerous tributaries and four principal branches (East Branch, West Branch, Piney Creek and Bear Creek). Three-fourths of the watershed lies lie in Pennsylvania with the rest situated in Maryland. At its origins I south central Pennsylvania, the east and west branches of Sideling Hill Creek (better known locally as “Little Creek” and “Big Creek”) straddle a formation known as Addison Ridge. Tributaries to the west branch flow off nearby ridges named Hoop Pole, Raccoon, and Addison. The east branch is fed by tributaries emerging from Buchanan State Forest and Pennsylvania State Game Lands, Ray’s Hill and Town Hill. The east and west branches combine below the hamlet of Purcell and become the main stem of Sideling Hill Creek.
The meandering stream journeys on through the Pennsylvania communities of Silver Mills and Inglesmith, is enlarged by Crooked Run and Piney Creek in Bedford County and Trough Run in Fulton county, then crosses the Mason-Dixon Line into Maryland. Sideling Hill Creek serves as the border separating allegany and Washington Counties in Maryland where it is joined by Bear Creek. Sideling Hill Creek finally empties into the Potomac River as it passes beneath the arch of the old C&O aqueduct in the C&O National Historical Park.
Because Sideling Hill Creek is a tributary of the Potomac River, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay, its watershed is a part of the larger 64,000 square mile Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Protecting Sideling Hill creek helps preserve the Chesapeake Bay, the largest and most productive estuary in the United States.