Trail Courtesy Sign
Trail Courtesy Sign

Bike the Towpath

Bicycle riding is permitted on the canal towpath, Western Maryland Rail Trail, Capital Crescent Trail, and Berma Road - biking is not permitted on hiking trails or off trail. 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.

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 and through tunnels
  • Sound devices (bell, horn, etc.) are recommended and should be sounded within 100' of approaching others
  • Helmets are required in accordance with county ordinances. Children under the age of 18 are required to wear helmets in Montgomery County, MD, and children under the age of 16 are required to wear helmets in other areas of the park.

Bike Rental Information

The National Park Service partners with two concessioners in the downstream end of the canal in Washington, DC.


Multi-day Trips


Camping: Hiker-Biker and Drive-In campsites are located from Swains Lock to Cumberland.

Lockhouses: The C&O Canal Trust's Canal Quarters program offers several lodging options in lockhouses along the canal. Reserve a lockhouse today!

Canal Towns: Another great resource for learning more about what surrounding towns to the towpath have to offer is the Canal Towns Partnership website.

Well Water

Well water is generally available in across the park from mid-April (around the 15th) to mid-November (around the 15th).

Drive-In Campgrounds: Well water within the drive-in campgrounds is potable and treated with iodine - do NOT drink if you have any iodine allergies or if you are on medication for an overactive thyroid. In general, well water is clean and able to be used without additional treatment. However, as a general precaution for wells located in a flood zone, you are advised to boil or treat the water before use for your own protection.

Hiker-Biker Campsites: Non-potable water is available in hiker-biker campsites. Please plan to filter, chemically treat, or boil the water before use for your own protection. The wells will remain in the hiker-biker campsites and, as long as visitors bring their own sanitization equipment, there will be a more reliable water source as handles will not be removed from these wells.

Water availability is subject to change. Always bring plenty of water with you as a backup option. Please plan your trip accordingly.

Overnight Parking

No overnight permits are required for vehicles in Chesapeake and Ohio Canal parking lots. The National Park Service is not responsible for cars or their contents; do not store valuables in cars.


This is a trash free park; take all trash away.



E-bikes are allowed in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park where traditional bicycles are allowed. E-bikes are prohibited where traditional bicycles are prohibited. Except where use of motor vehicles by the public is allowed, using the electric motor to move an e-bike without pedaling is prohibited. The term e-bike means a two- or three- wheeled cycle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (1 horsepower).

Trail areas where the e-bikes are allowed include the Towpath, Berma Road, and the C&O Canal NHP section of the Capital Crescent Trail. A person operating an e-bike is subject to the following sections of 36 CFR part 4 that apply to the use of traditional bicycles: Sections 4.12, 4.13, 4.20, 4.21, 4.22, 4.23, and 4.30(h)(2)-(5).

Except as specified in the Superintendent's Compendium, the use of an e-bike within Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park is governed by State law, which is adopted and made a part of the Compendium. Any violation of State law adopted by this paragraph is prohibited. The maximum speed on designated routes within the park is 15 m.p.h.

E-bikes on the Western Maryland Rail Trail:

Only Class 1 e-bikes are allowed on the Western Maryland Rail Trail, which is managed by the Maryland Department of Natual Resources. To learn more about e-bikes on the Western Maryland Rail Trail visit the WMRT webpage.

E-bikes on the Capital Crescent Trail:

Only Class 1 e-bikes are allowed on the section of the Capital Crescent Trail that is in Montgomery County, Maryland. To learn more about e-bikes in Montgomery Park's visit their e-bikes webpage.

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As part of National Bicycle Safety Month, here are seven tip's for bicycle riding in our national parks.

Last updated: December 13, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

142 W. Potomac St.
Williamsport, MD 21795



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