You might see some areas of towpath being resurfaced...What's going on?
In short, the park is working to resurface the towpath in phases over the next five-to-ten years. In 2016, the C&O Canal National Historical Park partnered with the Allegheny Trail Alliance (ATA) to assess the condition of the park's 184.5 miles of towpath. Founded in 1995, the ATA is charged with maintaining the Great Allegheny Passage, a 150 mile rail-trail that stretches from Pittsburgh, Pennslyvania to Cumberland, Maryland.
Where is work currently taking place?
The most recent phase of resurfacing stretches from Whites Ferry (Mile 35) to Brunswick (Mile 54). This phase of work was completed as of April 1, 2020. When work is active, visitors may see temporary horseback riding restrictions. Please read more on our Horseback Riding page.
Why are we doing this work?
Due to the proximity to the Potomac River and the constant threat of floods and washouts, the park wanted to develop methods of resurfacing that are historic, durable, and long lasting.
The goal of the resurfacing project is threefold:
The resurfacing techniques are not catered to one particular usage group, such as runners or bicyclists. Rather, the park is piloting a new resurfacing model to make the towpath as durable as possible for all park users.
What are the resurfaced layers made of?
The towpath is NOT being paved. The base layer of the new towpath surface is crush and run gravel, also known as CR-6. The top layer is stone dust, also known as AASHTO-10. The crush and run layer creates an adequate drainage system, so that heavy rainfall can easily drain off the towpath. The stone dust layer at the top adds a nice, smooth surface.
What is the process for resurfacing the towpath?
What sections of towpath can I expect to be resurfaced?
Towpath resurfacing is taking place in phases over the next several years:
Where does funding for this project come from?
Funding for the project comes from a variety of sources, including the National Park Service and grants from the State of Maryland. To date, $4.5 million dollars has been spent rehabbing these sections.
Still have questions?Send us an email or give us a call during regular business hours at 301-739-4200, option 0.
Before: The towpath at Whites Ferry (mile 35.5) before resurfacing efforts. - NPS Photo
After: The towpath at Whites Ferry (mile 35.5) after resurfacing efforts. - NPS Photo
Last updated: June 28, 2021