Current Park Conditions

 

Towpath and Park Conditions


Milepost 1–25

Including Georgetown, Washington D.C.; Bethesda, MD; Potomac, MD; Seneca, MD

  • Georgetown Locks 3 and 4 (MP 1)

  • Capital Crescent Trail (MP 1.07)

    • Open
  • Fletchers Cove Area (MP 3.21)

    • Open, Fletchers cove access road
  • Billy Goat Trail (MP 9.9)

    • Open, Section A
    • Closed, Section B, due to trail damage. Opening date TBD.
    • Open, Section C
  • Anglers Area (MP 12.31)

    • Open
  • Great Falls Tavern Area (MP 14)

  • Open, Great Falls Entrance Road.
  • Open, Olmsted Island and Great Falls Overlook.
  • Open, Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center— hours
  • Closed, Mule-drawn boat rides. Boat rides resume in 2020. For more
 

Milepost 25–50

Including Poolesville, MD; Whites Ferry, MD; Dickerson, MD; Point of Rocks, MD
 

Milepost 50–100

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

  • Towpath Detour. There is a short towpath detour around the washed out area - follow the signage off the towpath and onto a designated pathway that leads to a temporary low-water* crossing across the creek. Get back onto a designated pathway that leads back up to the towpath. Follow signage and dismount bikes before crossing.*During high water events, the crossing may be under water and unsafe to cross.
When high water occurs, please contact Shepherdstown Pedal and Paddle at 304-876-3000 or River and Trail Outfitters at 301-834-9950 to arrange for a shuttle around the detour. The Canal Towns Partnership, acting through C&O Canal Trust, is no longer offering free shuttle services. The park is working on a long-term solution.
  • 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.
  • Big Slackwater: Dam #4 - Burnside Farm (Milepost 84.4 - MP 90.0)

    • Open
    • Boat Dock Open, As of June 21st, the boat dock at Big Slackwater is installed and open for use.
  • Williamsport Area (MP 100)

  • Change in traffic pattern, Towpath access to Williamsport Visitor Center is avalaible at the Railroad Lift Bridge, including a new stairway with a low bike rail. Contact the visitor center for questions. Learn more about the Conococheague Aqueduct
  • Open, Williamsport Visitor Center.
  • Closed, Launch Boat Tours resume in 2020. Learn more about boat ride operations in Williamsport, Maryland.
 

Milepost 100–150

Including Big Pool, MD; Hancock, MD; Little Orleans, MD

Little Tonoloway Boat Ramp (MP 124.33)

  • Open, toilets
 

Milepost 150–184.5

Including Paw Paw, WV; Oldtown, MD; Cumberland, MD

Paw Paw Tunnel (MP 155.2)

  • Towpath Delay. Additional assessment work by engineers and geologists will be scheduled for the week of October 15 - 18, during this time delays of up to one hour are possible between the hours of 7AM - 5PM. Learn more about the Paw Paw Tunnel construction.
  • Spring Gap Recreational Area (MP 173.3)

    • Open, recreation area
    • Open, boat ramp
    • Open, toilets
 

Drinking Water Conditions

Remote water faucets ON for the season. Please see below for individual faucet statuses.

Drinking water is available from mid-April to mid-November 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. As of 4/15, water is on for the season. Please plan your trip accordingly.

On Lock 5 (MM 5)
On Lock 10 (MM 8.8)
Off Carderock Recreation Area (MM 10.5)
On Marsden Tract (MM 11.5)
On Anglers Access (MM12.2)
Off Swains Lockhouse (MM 16.64)
On 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)
Off 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)
Off Jordan Junction Campsite (MM 101.2)
On Four Locks Picnic Area (MM 108.9)
On North Mountain Campsite (MM 109.2)
Off 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)
Off Cacapon Junction (MM 133.6)
On Indigo Neck (MM 139)
On Fifteen Mile Creek Campground (MM 140.9)
On Devils Alley (MM 144.5)
Off Stickpile Hill Campsite (MM 149.3)
On Sorrel Ridge Campsite (MM 154.1)
Off 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)
Off Evitts Creek Campsite (MM 180)

 

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 20 (MP 14.3) 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.

Current Status Locks 4-5: Open
Current Status Locks 20-23: Locks 22-23 - Open. All others - Closed

 
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: October 13, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1850 Dual Highway, Suite 100
Hagerstown, MD 21740

Phone:

301-739-4200

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