Hiking and Biking

Photo of bikers on the Berma Road adjacent to the C&O Canal.
184.5 miles of towpath creates one of the longest biking trails in the continental US.

NPS Photo

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”
- John Muir

Hiking

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).

View hiking maps and walking guides.

Hiking Tips:

· Bring water and food
· Wear sturdy footwear
· Be prepared for changing weather conditions
· Know your location
· Share the towpath with other users
· Pack out all trash. Trash bags are provided at dispensers
located throughout the park.

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.

Biking

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 16 required to wear helmets.

Bike rental information

E-Bikes

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).

Trail areas where the e-bikes are allowed include the Towpath, Berma Road, and the Capital Crescent Trail. A person operating an e-bike is subject to the following sections of 36 CFR part 4 that apply to the use of traditional bicycles: Sections 4.12, 4.13, 4.20, 4.21, 4.22, 4.23, and 4.30(h)(2)-(5).

Except as specified in the Superintendent's Compendium, the use of an e-bike within Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park is governed by State law, which is adopted and made a part of the Compendium. Any violation of State law adopted by this paragraph is prohibited. The maximum speed on designated routes within the park is 15 m.p.h.

Multiple-Day Trips

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.

Travel the Canal

Last updated: October 15, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1850 Dual Highway, Suite 100
Hagerstown, MD 21740

Phone:

301-739-4200

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