Current Park Conditions

 

COVID-19 Update:

The National Park Service (NPS) is working servicewide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis. Based on guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, access to the park is as follows:

  • Masks - Required, in certain areas for unvaccinated individuals when physical distancing cannot be maintained, such as narrow or busy trails, overlooks, and parking lots.
  • Visitor Centers - closed, including the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center, Brunswick Visitor Center, Williamsport Visitor Center, and Cumberland Visitor Center.
  • Reservation Only (Drive-in) Campgrounds - open. Campsites must be reserved through www.recreation.gov. See note below on restooms and water availability.

  • Hiker-biker Campsites - open. See note below on restooms and water availability.

  • Restrooms, Vault Toilets, and Portable Toilets - open at campgrounds, boat ramps, and day use areas. Restrooms will be cleaned twice weekly. Please bring your own hand sanitizer, soap, and toilet paper as these items have been the subject of theft.

  • Water Fountains and Wells - open for the season. See "Drinking Water Conditions" below for detailed water availability.
  • Fee collection at Great Falls has resumed. Credit, debit, or contactless payment (such as Apple Pay or Google Pay) ONLY. No cash or checks accepted. Digital passes are available via www.recreation.gov.
  • C&O Canal NHP may cancel permits and reservations and may not accept applications for demonstrations, special events, or park site reservations until further notice.

While the listed areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased, and services may be limited. When recreating, please follow local area health orders, practice Leave No Trace principles, and avoid crowding and high-risk outdoor activities.

The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.

All park lands remain open. Updates will be posted on this page and to the park's social media channels. For more information please visit the National Park Service Public Health Update page.

Updated 5/27/21

 

Towpath and Park Conditions

Milepost 1–25

Including Georgetown, Washington, DC; Bethesda, MD; Potomac, MD; Seneca, MD

  • Fletchers Area (MP 3.14)

    • Open, Parking lot
    • Open, Restrooms
  • Carderock Area (MP 10.53)

  • Marsden Tract (MP 11.3)

  • Anglers (MP 12.0)

    • Limited Parking, The lower parking lot at Anglers has been closed to provide access for EMS and rescue services. The upper parking lot remains open for visitors.
    • Open, Restrooms
  • Billy Goat Trail (MP 13.8)

    • Open, Section A
    • Closed, Section B, due to trail damage.
    • Open, Section C
  • Great Falls Tavern Area (MP 14.3)

  • Open, Great Falls entrance road on MacArthur Boulevard
  • Open, Parking lot
  • Open, Restrooms
  • Open, Great Falls Overlook and Olmsted Island Boardwalk
  • Closed, Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center. See COVID-19 update at top of page.
  • Closed, Mule-drawn boat rides. Boat rides expected to resume in 2021.
 

Milepost 25–50

Including Poolesville, MD; Whites Ferry, MD; Dickerson, MD; Point of Rocks, MD
  • Edwards Ferry (MP 30.8)

    • Open, Boat ramp
  • Monocacy Area (MP 42.2)

    • Open, Boat ramp
  • Nolands Ferry (MP 44.6)

    • Open, Boat ramp
  • Point of Rocks (MP 48.2)

    • Open, Boat ramp
  • Lander (MP 50.8)

    • Open, Boat ramp
 

Milepost 50–75

Including Brunswick, MD; Harpers Ferry, WV; Shepherdstown, WV
  • Culvert 82 (MP 52.5)

  • Towpath Detour. Cyclist are encouraged to dismount bicycles and take caution crossing the low water crossing bridge. High water events will put the bridge underwater.
  • The following vendors have indicated their availability for shuttle services around this area:
    • River & Trail Outfitters: 301-834-9950 or email at river@rivertrail.com (contact directly for pricing and to make your arrangements)
  • Dargan Bend (MP 64)

  • Open, Boat ramp
  • Towpath Below Dargan Bend Boat Ramp (MP 64)

  • Towpath Detour. Due to a washout half a mile below the boat ramp, the pedestrian footbridge has been relocated 100 feet upstream from its original location along the towpath. Follow a designated pathway from the towpath, across the footbridge and stream, and back onto the towpath.
  • Antietam Creek Area (MP 69.6)

  • Open. Campground
 

Milepost 75–100

Including Downsville, MD; Williamsport, MD
  • Snyders Landing (MP 76.6)

    • Open, Boat ramp
  • Taylors Landing (MP 81.0)

    • Open, Boat ramp
  • Towpath at McMahon's Mill (MP 88) to Burnside House (MP 89)

    • High Water Impacts, Road detour is needed during high water events. Expect rough and/or slick towpath conditions caused by water events. Bikers may need to dismount in some areas.

  • Williamsport Area (MP 100)

  • Open, Parking lot.
  • Open, Restrooms.
  • Closed. Williamsport Visitor Center. See COVID-19 update at top of page.
  • Closed. Launch boat rides. Boat rides are expected to resume in 2021
 

Milepost 100–150

Including Big Pool, MD; Hancock, MD; Little Orleans, MD
  • Four Locks (MP 108.0)

    • Open, Boat ramp
  • McCoys Ferry (MP 110.4)

    • Open, Campground and parking lot
    • Open, Boat ramp
  • Little Tonoloway Boat Ramp (MP 124.33)

    • Open
  • Fifteen Mile Creek (MP 140.9)

    • Open, Campground and parking lot
    • Open, Boat ramp
 

Milepost 150–184.5

Including Paw Paw, WV; Oldtown, MD; Cumberland, MD
  • Paw Paw Area (MP 155.8)

  • Spring Gap (MP 173.3)

    • Open, Campground and parking lot
    • Open, Boat ramp
  • Cumberland Area (MP 184.5)

 

Drinking Water Conditions

Faucet handles are ON for the season.

Drinking water is generally available from mid-April (around the 15th) to mid-November (around the 15th) at Hiker/Biker and Drive-In Campsite locations, approximately every 5 to 7 miles. Water quality tests are performed frequently by park staff to ensure drinkable water. Water availability is subject to change. Always bring plenty of water with you when camping as a backup option. Please plan your trip accordingly.
On Fletcher's Cove (MM 3.21)
On
Lock 5 (MM 5)

On Lock 10 (MM 8.8)
On Carderock Recreation Area (MM 10.5)
Off Marsden Tract (MM 11.5)
On Anglers Access (MM 12.2)
On Great Falls Tavern Restrooms (MM 14.3)
Off Swains Lockhouse (MM 16.64)
Off Swains Campground (MM 16.7)
On Seneca Creek/Rileys (MM 22)
On Horsepen Branch Campsite (MM 26)
On Chisel Branch Campsite (MM 30.5)
On Turtle Run Campsite (MM 34.4)
On Marble Quarrry Campsite (MM 38.2)
On Indian Flats (MM 42.4)
On Calico Rocks Campsite (MM 47.7)
On Bald Eagle Island Campsite (MM 50.3)
On Lock 34 (MM 61.5)
On Huckleberry Hill Campsite (MM 62.9)
On Antietam Creek Campground (MM 69.6)
On Killiansburg Cave Campsite (MM 75.4)
On Horseshoe Bend Campsite (MM 79.7)
On Big Woods Campsite (MM 82.4)
On Opequon Junction Campsite (MM 90.8)
On Cumberland Valley Campsite (MM 95.2)
On Cushwa Basin Restrooms (MM 99.7)
On Jordan Junction Campsite (MM 101.2)
On Four Locks Picnic Area (MM 108.9)
On North Mountain Campsite (MM 109.2)
On McCoys Ferry (MM 110)
On Licking Creek Campsite (MM 116)

Off Little Pool Campsite (MM 120.7)
On White Rock Campsite (MM 126.5)
On Leopards Mill (MM 129.9)
On Cacapon Junction (MM 133.6)
On Indigo Neck (MM 139)
On Fifteen Mile Creek Campground (MM 140.9)
On Devils Alley (MM 144.5)
On Stickpile Hill Campsite (MM 149.3)

Off Sorrel Ridge Campsite (MM 154.1)
On Arbaugh (MM 155)
On Paw Paw (MM 156)
On Purslane Run Campsite (MM 157.4)
On Town Creek (MM 162)
On Potomac Forks (MM 165)
On Pigmans Ferry (MM 169)

On Spring Gap (MM 173)
On Irons Mountain Campsite (MM 175.4)
On Evitts Creek Campsite (MM 180)

On Cumberland Visitor Center (MM 184.5)
 

Water Levels in Lower Sections of the Canal

Due to construction projects, maintenance activities, and weather, water levels in the lower portions of the canal are likely to vary throughout the year. This can affect a variety of activities throughout these areas.

The park currently actively manages water levels within two main sections of the lower portions of the canal: between Lock 4 (MP 0.54) and Lock 5/Inlet Lock 1 (MP 5.02) and between Lock 17 (MP 13.99) and Lock 23/Inlet Lock 2 (22.12). The water levels are primarily managed through the opening and closing of paddle gates on inlet lock gates, which control water entering the canal from the Potomac River, and waste weirs, which help establish the water level in the canal by draining excess water back into the river.

Open* is when the inlet lock paddle gates are open, allowing water to flow into the canal. When open, it can be assumed the water level can support boating in the canal. Closed* is when the inlet lock paddle gates are closed, blocking off water flow from entering into the canal. When closed, it can be assumed the water level will not support boating in the canal. *Water levels can change unexpectedly.

Last Update: 06/11/2021

Current Status Locks 4-5: Open
Current Status Locks 17-18: Open
Current Status Locks 19-20: Open
Current Status Locks 20-21: Open
Current Status Locks 21-23: Open

 
A view of high water on the Potomac River at Olmsted Island Overlook.
Raging Potomac River well above flood stage at Great Falls Overlook, summer 2018

NPS Photo

River Conditions

The Park monitors Potomac River levels to determine when portions of the towpath, hiking trails or parking areas might be affected by rising river levels. By visiting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - National Weather Service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, you can see a timeline of expected river rises and crests to help plan your visit to the park.

Section A of the Billy Goat Trail often closes due to flooding. Under normal conditions, the trail is closed when the gauge at Little Falls reaches 5 feet and reopens when the gauge falls to 4.8 feet. However, under certain circumstances, the trail may be closed at lower levels. Please call the Great Falls Tavern Visitors Center at 301-767-3714 during regular business hours for the latest information on trail closures.

 

Last updated: June 11, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

142 W. Potomac St.
Williamsport, MD 21795

Phone:

301-739-4200

Contact Us