“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”
Several park areas have interpretive trails and other hiking opportunities. Aside from the towpath, there are many great hiking trails in the Park: the Tunnel Hill Trail near the Paw Paw Tunnel, the Ferry Hill Trail near Sharpsburg, as well as 14 miles of trail near Great Falls (including the Billy Goat Trail).
· Bring water and food
The C&O Canal NHP also connects to the Potomac Heritage Trail, the Appalachain National Scenic Trail, and the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.
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
· Sound devices (bell, horn, etc.) are recommended and should be sounded within 100' of approaching others
Helmets 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.
Hiker-Biker and Drive-in campsites are located from Swains Lock to Cumberland. Please note: Potable water may not be available at each hiker/biker campsite. Please plan to bring water purification tablets with you.
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).
Last updated: September 23, 2021