C&O Canal Hike 18

Hancock to Little Orleans

Remnants of town linger until the towpath reaches the ruins of the Round Top Cement Mill. West of here the trail enters the mountains, with Capacon and Round Top coming into view. Above the canal telegraph poles march west along the Western Maryland Grade. On the West Virginia side of the Potomac trains pass regularly. At night it is interesting to watch their giant headlights from camp. Up at Indigo Neck the towpath traces a long arc while the abandoned railroad passes through the 4350-foot Indigo Tunnel. If you have never stood at the mouth of a mighty tunnel, this is the place to do it, as well worn paths lead across the canal bed to both ends.

This wild and beautiful section ends at the Fifteen Mile Creek Campground in Little Orleans. Don't leave here without visiting Bill's Place just up the hill from the canal and through the railroad underpass.

 

Trip Planner

Start: Hancock
End: Little Orleans
Miles: 16.7
Points of Interest: Hancock, Round Top Cement Mill, Sideling Hill Aqueduct, Indigo Tunnel, Little Orleans
Parking: Hancock (0.0 mi.), Fifteen Mile Creek campground (16.7 mi.)
Water: Hancock, White Rock campsite, Leopards Mill campsite, Cacapon Junction campsite, Indigo Neck campsite, Fifteen Mile Creek campground (water at campsites normally turned off November-April)
Restroom or privy: White Rock campsite, Leopards Mill campsite, Cacapon Junction campsite, Indigo Neck campsite, Fifteen Mile Creek campground
Provisions: Hancock, Little Orleans (limited supplies plus meals)
Camping: White Rock campsite, Leopards Mill campsite, Cacapon Junction campsite, Indigo Neck campsite, Fifteen Mile Creek campground

 

Hike Data

Mile Navigation
0 Hancock. Shops, restaurants and motels are all within a few blocks of canal. Turn right at canal milepost 124.1. State of Maryland is barely a mile wide here. Hikers can access the southbound Tuscarora Trail via US 522 bridge.
2.4 White Rocks campsite.
3.3 Round Top Cement Mill. Much of the cement used in canal structures was produced here.
5.8 Leopards Mill campsite.
9.5 Cacapon Junction campsite. Beautiful locations across from Cacapon River in West Virginia. Fine arched railroad bridge across from camp.
12.1 Pearre, MD. There are a few houses here, no services.
12.5 Sideling Hill Aqueduct. Connection with Western Maryland Trail.
13.9 Indigo Tunnel. Built in 1904 this wood-lined tunnel runs for 4350 feet through Indigo Neck. This was the longest tunnel the Western Maryland ever built.
15.0 Indigo Neck campsite.
16.7 Little Orleans and Fifteen Mile Creek campground (drive-in). Turn right at Fifteen Mile Creek campground, pass under the Western Maryland viaduct and enter the past at Bill's Place. The town took this name because Orleans Crossroads was across the Potomac on the B&O Line.


 

Explore the PHT

Hancock
The village serves as the base for outdoor activities in three states as Maryland is barely a mile wide at this point. Right in town, three trails merge (C&O, Tuscarora, Western Maryland) making this an ideal spot to start (or end) a trip. For example a 24-mile circuit hike can be made utilizing the C&O and Western Maryland Trails between Hancock and Sideling Hill Aqueduct. Three campsites on the towpath make it easy to add a second day to the trip. The main street features restaurants and a bakery as well as numerous shops. The river can be accessed here as well. There are outfitters in town who can shuttle you and your gear for a variety of activities.

Last updated: May 11, 2017

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Mailing Address:

Potomac Heritage NST Office
P. O. Box B

Harpers Ferry, WV 25425

Phone:

(304) 535-4014

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