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Latest update: June 2018

C&O Canal Towpath...

Biking in Maryland

The C&O Canal Towpath runs 185 miles along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal paralleling the Potomac River from Washington, DC, to Cumberland, MD. Although the canal is mostly drained, it is now a National Historic Park and the towpath a popular recreational trail. A ride on the towpath is a ride through history including the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and tracks a central component of transportation history. Sights range from urban to wilderness areas, and the 3,000+ foot Paw Paw Canal Tunnel. Activities along the towpath include hiking, camping, biking, kayaking, horseback riding, skiing, and visiting historical sites. (Detailed map and photos below.)

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Biking Map...
C&O Canal Towpath


View Larger Map external

Location: Cumberland, MD to Washington, DC (See map)
Distance: 185 miles
Surface: Clay and crushed stone

Support and Advocacy:
C&O Canal Trust external

Bike Shops/Rentals:
Cumberland Trail Connection external (Cumberland, MD)
C&O Bicycle external (Hancock, MD)
River & Trail Outfitters external (Harper's Ferry, WV)
Big Wheel Bikes external (Georgetown, DC)


Biking on the C&O Canal Towpath

Near Cumberland, MD

The path runs between the Potomac River and the canal, which is mostly overgrown with vegetation. (June 2018)


At Hancock, MD

Water has been restored here, an example of how the canal used to look. At the lock, the old building is now the Hancock Visitor Center.
(June 2012)

 

More Information:
At Cumberland, the towpath joins with the Great Allegheny Passage to continue 150 miles to Pittsburgh, PA. Other trail connections include the Western Maryland Rail Trail, the Mount Vernon Trail, and Appalachian Trail. Hint: as a break from the towpath, at Lock 56 (Pearre Road in Hancock) cross over to the paved Western Maryland Rail Trail and ride for 22 miles to Big Pool.

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