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:

  • Visitor Centers - closed, including the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center, Brunswick Visitor Center, Williamsport Visitor Center, and Cumberland Visitor Center.

  • Parking Areas - Parking at Anglers is limited to provide access for EMS and rescue services. Parking is open at Great Falls, Carderock, and Fletchers.
  • 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 - well pumps are beginning to open, but may not be available in all areas.
  • 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 will cancel permits and reservations and will 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 6/24/20

 

Towpath and Park Conditions

Milepost 1–25

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

  • Fletchers Area (MP 3.14)

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

    • Open, Parking lot and restrooms.
    • Closed, Carderock Pavilion. See COVID-19 update at top of page.
  • Marsden Tract (MP 11.3)

    • Open, Campground. See COVID-19 update at top of page.
  • 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)

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

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

Milepost 25–50

Including Poolesville, MD; Whites Ferry, MD; Dickerson, MD; Point of Rocks, MD
  • 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. Follow the signage off the towpath and onto a designated pathway that leads to a temporary low-water crossing across the creek. Follow signage and dismount bikes before crossing. *** During high water events, the crossing may be under water and unsafe to cross. Check weather.gov for more information, the low-water crossing may be underwater when the river guage at Point of Rocks reaches 5 feet.
  • 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.
  • Brunswick (MP 55)

  • Harpers Ferry Footbridge Across Potomac (MP 60.7)

  • July 5, 2020 - Bridge Open. The footbridge across the Potomac River connecting the C&O Canal to Harpers Ferry is OPEN.
  • Maryland Heights Parking Area (MP 61.1)

    • Parking Lot Closed. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park has closed all of their parking lots, including the parking lots on Sandy Hook Rd at Maryland Heights. Click on the more link for further details. More. The closest open parking areas are at Dargan Bend (MP 64) and Brunswick (MP 55).
  • 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)

    • High Water Impacts, Expect rough and/or slick conditions caused by high 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 resume in 2021
 
A map showing the detour around the Little Tonoloway bridge closure.
The detour map shows alternate parking areas and towpath access at Little Tonoloway. The bridge is closed to vehicles, but the boat ramp can still be accessed by pedestrian traffic.

NPS Map | C&O Canal NHP Engineering

Milepost 100–150

Including Big Pool, MD; Hancock, MD; Little Orleans, MD
  • Dam #5 (MP 106.5)

    • Detour, July 14-16, Towpath closed for maintenance from Dam #5 (MP 106.5) to Lock 46 (MP 107.5). Visitors traveling through may use Dam 5 road to bypass the closed portion of the towpath.
  • 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)

    • Closed, to vehicle access to the boat ramp/day use area. Alternate boat ramps include Fifteen Mile Creek (MP 140.09) and McCoys Ferry (MP 110.43). The bridge is still accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • 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)

    • Open, Campground and parking lot.
    • Open, Parking lot.
  • Spring Gap (MP 173.3)

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

 

Drinking Water Conditions

Remote water faucets are limited, see COVID-19 update at top of page.

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. As of 6/10/2020, remote water faucets in the park are being phased on. Water availability is subject to change. Please plan your trip accordingly.

Off Lock 5 (MM 5)
Off Lock 10 (MM 8.8)
Off Carderock Recreation Area (MM 10.5)
Off Marsden Tract (MM 11.5)
Off Anglers Access (MM 12.2)
Off Great Falls Tavern Restrooms (MM 14.3)
Off Swains Lockhouse (MM 16.64)
Off Swains Campground (MM 16.7)
Off 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)

Off Indian Flats (MM 42.4)
Off Calico Rocks Campsite (MM 47.7)
On Bald Eagle Island Campsite (MM 50.3)
Off Lock 34 (MM 61.5)
On Huckleberry Hill Campsite (MM 62.9)
On Antietam Creek Campground (MM 69.6)

Off Killiansburg Cave Campsite (MM 75.4)
On Horseshoe Bend Campsite (MM 79.7)
On Big Woods Campsite (MM 82.4)

Off Opequon Junction Campsite (MM 90.8)
On Cumberland Valley Campsite (MM 95.2)
Off Cushwa Basin Restrooms (MM 99.7)
Off Jordan Junction Campsite (MM 101.2)
Off Four Locks Picnic Area (MM 108.9)
Off North Mountain Campsite (MM 109.2)
On McCoys Ferry (MM 110)
Off Licking Creek Campsite (MM 116)
Off Little Pool Campsite (MM 120.7)
On White Rock Campsite (MM 126.5)
Off Leopards Mill (MM 129.9)
Off Cacapon Junction (MM 133.6)
Off 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)
Off 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)
Off 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 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.

Last Update: 08/04/2020 - All inlet lock paddles are currently closed, due to high water event.
Current Status Locks 4-5: Closed
Current Status Locks 20-21: Closed
Current Status Locks 21-22: Closed
Current Status Locks 22-23: 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: August 4, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1850 Dual Highway, Suite 100
Hagerstown, MD 21740

Phone:

301-739-4200

Contact Us