CHESAPEAKE & OHIO CANAL:
CUMBERLAND, MARYLAND-WASHINGTON, DC
-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-
C & O Canal Towpath; 185 miles
Georgetown to Great Falls Tavern Visitors Center; 14 miles
Difficulty: Easy. Flat, hard packed surface.
To start from the
Alongside the C & O
Canal; Take exit 41 off of I-495
and head north up Clara Barton Parkway. Then take a left onto MacArthur Boulevard
and take it to Great Falls NHP.
There is a fee to enter Great Falls NP.
You may also start from the Georgetown
Visitors Center located on Thomas Jefferson Street NW
in DC or from Fletcher’s Boathouse,
located off of Canal Rd.
There are many other parking lots located along the canal, so that you may pick a trip length of your choice. The National Park Service has maps available or visit; C & O CANAL .
The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal started out with the purpose of connecting the Chesapeake Bay in Georgetown to the Ohio River in Pittsburgh, PA, 460 miles away. Started in 1828, 22 years later in 1850, it finally terminated in Cumberland, MD after 184 ½ miles. The canal was already obsolete by the time it was completed; nevertheless, it remained in operation until 1924. In the early 50’s, Supreme Court Justice William Douglas led a march to save the canal and towpath from demolition. Today it is a National Historical Park run by the National Park Service. The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) runs 150 miles between Cumberland, MD, and Pittsburgh, PA. In Cumberland, the GAP joins the C&O Canal Towpath, creating a continuous 335 mile long trail from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington, DC.
The C & O Canal runs along the Potomac River from the mouth of Rock Creek in Georgetown to Cumberland, MD. It contains 74 locks to rise from near sea level to an elevation of 605 feet at Cumberland. The towpath provides a nearly level byway for bikers or hikers. The section from Georgetown to Great Falls contains 20 locks and is about 14 miles in length. Just over 3 miles from Georgetown, a ½ mile past Fletcher’s Boathouse, is where the Capitol Crescent Trail crosses over the canal.
Great Falls Tavern
contains 6 locks, hiking trails, refreshment stand, restrooms and of course the
historic Great Falls Tavern. Once a hotel for tourists flocking to visit
Potomac, it is now a NPS Visitors Center. A boardwalk takes you out over the
islands to view the
CLICK HERE FOR MAPS
BEFORE YOU SET OUT BE SURE TO READ THE
WAIVER OF RESPONSIBILITY AND DISCLAIMER
BIKE IT OR HIKE IT