• Historic Shot of Canal Boat on the Canal

    Chesapeake & Ohio Canal

    National Historical Park DC,MD,WV

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  • NEW Overnight parking system

    Before parking a vehicle overnight in any Canal Parking area, visitors must register their vehicle through the new online registration system. Print your reciept and place on your dashboard. If unable to print, please visit the nearest visitor center. More »

  • Water Pump Handles Temporarily Removed

    Water pump handles at Bald Eagle Island and Iron Mtn. Hiker-Biker Campsites and Paw Paw Campground have been removed due to bad water samples. Handles will be reinstalled when good water samples are received.

  • Boat Tours at Great Falls

    Due to low water levels in the Great Falls area, call the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center (301-767-3714) in advance of your trip to confirm the mule-drawn boat tour schedule.

  • Parking Lot Closure

    CSX is now beginning a phase of their bridge project that requires the closure of the Lock 74 parking lot for approximatly 18 months. Access to visitor parking near Lock 75 is now re-opened with a gravel parking lot at the site.

Hiking and Biking

Photo of bikers on the Berma Road adjacent to the C&O Canal.

184.5 miles of towpath creates one of the largest biking trails in the continental US.

NPS Photo

Hiking and biking along the towpath are excellent ways to see the park. Hiker-Biker Campsites are located from Swain's Lock to Cumberland. Several park areas have interpretive trails and other hiking opportunities.

If you plan on leaving a vehicle overnight at a Canal Parking Area, you must register your car through the online system found here. If you are unable to print the permit, you must visit a visitor center for a pass to put on your dashboard.

To view hiking maps and walking guides click here.

For bike rental information click here.

Bicycle riding is permitted only on the towpath. The surface of the towpath is for the most part an even hard-packed dirt trail. The towpath can be very muddy following heavy rain. Bicyclists should carry tools for repairs. All hikers and bikers must yield the right of way to horses and mules.

Please follow these basic biking regulations:

  • 15 MPH maximum speed limit on towpath
  • Ride single file
  • Stay to the right except when passing
  • Yield right of way to all pedestrians, horses and mules
  • Walk bikes over aqueducts
  • Sound devices (bell, horn, etc.) are required and should be sounded within 100' of approaching others

Helmets required in accordance with county ordinances. Children under the age of 16 required to wear helmets. Please note: Potable water may not be available at each hiker/biker campsite. Please plan to bring water purification tablets with you.

Hiking Tips:

· Bring water and food
· Wear sturdy footwear
· Be prepared for changing weather conditions
· Know your location
· Share the towpath with other users
· Pack out all trash. Trash bags are provided at dispensers
located throughout the park.

Travel the Canal

Did You Know?

Many mules work and have worked at the canal through the years.

A mule is a hybrid animal, a mix of a female horse (a mare) and a male donkey (a jack). Remember, "M" for mom, "M" for mare and "D" for dad, "D" for donkey. Switching the parents will produce a hinny. The mule is the superior work animal, preferred by canal boat captains on the C&O Canal. More...