Current Park Conditions

Alerts

 
 
Plan Like a Park Ranger
 
 

Towpath and Park Conditions

Milepost 0–25

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

 

Milepost 25–50

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

  • Monocacy Area (MP 42.2)

    • Open, Boat ramp. The bridge work on Mouth of Monocacy Road is complete.
  • 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. During low water times, cyclist are encouraged to dismount bicycles and take caution crossing it as the low water crossing bridge repair is an interim fix until the replacement of the previous bridge is complete. Crossing may be under water when the river is high. Learn more about the project.
  • 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)
  • Towpath Below Dargan Bend Boat Ramp (MP 64.4)

    • 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.
  • Dargan Bend (MP 64.9)

  • Closed, Boat ramp. Local detour on towpath. Learn more about the project.
  • Antietam Creek Area (MP 69.6)

  • Open, Campground
  • Ferry Hill (MP 72.8)

  • Closed, Ferry Hill building is closed. The grounds are Open to the public.
 

Milepost 75–100

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

    • Open, Boat ramp
  • Taylors Landing (MP 80.9)

    • Open, Boat ramp
  • Big Slackwater Area (MP 84.4)

    • Open, Boat ramp
    • Open, Restrooms
  • McMahons Mill Area (MP 88.1)

    • Open, Parking lot
  • Williamsport Area (MP 99.8)

  • Open, Williamsport Visitor Center.
  • Closed for the season, Launch boat rides.
  • Open, Parking lot
  • Open, Restrooms
  • Changed, towpath access. Access the towpath from Cushwa Basin requires navigating a steep set of stairs or taking gravel rail-trail to crossing. Learn more about Alternate Parking and Towpath Access Points.
 

Milepost 100–150

Including Big Pool, MD; Hancock, MD; Little Orleans, MD
  • Dam No. 5 (MP 106.8)

    • Closed, Parking lot. Learn more about the project.
    • Towpath Detour, Miles 106 - 106.8, Detour from the towpath across the canal to Dam No. 5 Road. Follow the shoulder of Dam No. 5 Road on a temporary mulch trail. Use a temporary wooden stairway to rejoin the towpath upstream of the project.
  • Four Locks (MP 109.0)

    • Open, Boat ramp
    • Open, Four Locks Road Tunnel
  • McCoys Ferry (MP 110.4)

    • Open, Campground and parking lot
    • Open, Boat ramp
    • Open, McCoys Ferry Road Tunnel
  • Little Tonoloway (MP 124.5)

    • Open, Boat ramp
  • Fifteenmile Creek (MP 140.9)

 

Milepost 150–184.5

Including Paw Paw, WV; Oldtown, MD; Cumberland, MD
  • Paw Paw Area (MP 156.1)

  • Spring Gap (MP 173.3)

  • Cumberland Area (MP 184.5)

 

Well Water Conditions

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

The well water in hiker-biker campsites are signed non-potable. Water from wells at paid campgrounds will remain potable and safe for drinking, cooking, or washing. Well handles are removed in mid-November each year to protect against freeze as per normal operating procedures.

The park works to ensure that there is a more reliable water source year-round for visitors in the park and that the drinking water that is provided is as safe as it can possibly be, especially considering that our wells are in a flood zone. The park will maintain potable water in a targeted number of wells in fee campgrounds. 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.

For hiker-biker campgrounds, the wells will be signed as non-potable and we ask that visitors bring their own water supply or water sanitizing equipment to treat well water before use. As long as visitors bring their own sanitization equipment, there will be a more reliable water source.

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.

Visitor Centers, park buildings, and comfort stations are provided water by the nearby municipality and do not require drinking water sampling by the park. Please note that the Swains Lock campsite draws on the same municipal water as the Swains Lockhouse and will remain potable.

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

 

 

Water Levels in Lower Sections of the Canal

For more information about boating, visit our boating page.

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).

Below, the term “watered”* refers to the canal when it is holding water. The term, “de-watered”* refers to the canal when it is not holding water. When de-watered, it can be assumed the water level will not support boating in the canal. *Water levels can change unexpectedly.

Last Update: 5/23/2024

Current Status Between Locks 3-4: De-watered
Current Status Between Locks 4-5: De-watered
Current Status Between Locks 5-6: De-watered
Current Status at Widewater: De-watered
Current Status Between Locks 17-19: De-watered
Current Status Between Locks 19-20: De-watered
Current Status Between Locks 20-21: Watered
Current Status Between Locks 21-22: Watered
Current Status Between Locks 22-23: Watered
Current Status Between Lock 44 - Conococheague Aqueduct: Watered

 
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 Visitor Center at 301-739-4200 during regular business hours for the latest information on trail closures.

Last updated: May 23, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

142 W. Potomac St.
Williamsport, MD 21795

Phone:

301-739-4200

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