Downtown Frederick and the C&O Canal

This weekend trip starts in historic-but-hip downtown Frederick, Md., and includes a visit to Monocacy Battlefield and Monocacy Aqueduct–once considered one of the great engineering wonders of the world. After a visit to Catoctin Aqueduct and lunch in Brunswick, return to Frederick to wander the streets and plan your evening.

Saturday: Grab a quick breakfast downtown before packing up your bikes and heading to Monocacy Battlefield. Grab something light at one of the many coffee or bagel shops located in the heart of downtown, or fuel up with a hearty breakfast at Isabella’s or Magoo’s. From Downtown Frederick, Monocacy battlefield is an easy 10 minute drive. Travel South on Market Street/Route 355 about four miles to signs for the Monocacy National Battlefield Visitors Center.

In the “Battle that Saved Washington D.C.,” General Jubal Early led Confederate forces toward the capital, threatening to capture the city in the summer of 1864. Reacting to Early’s raid, Union General Ulysses S. Grant dispatched two brigades totaling 5,000 men. Until those troops arrived however, the only federal army between Early and Washington was the approximately 2,300 men commanded by General Lew Wallace. On July 9, the Union troops under Wallace met Early’s 14,000-strong force on the banks of the Monocacy. While the Confederates would win the battle in short order, Wallace was able to delay Early’s army enough to allow defenses to muster around Washington and prevent the city’s capture. Monocacy would be the Confederate Army’s northernmost victory of the war and was the end of the Confederates’ campaign to take the war in to the North.

From Monocacy Battlefield, the next stop is the Monocacy Aqueduct, the largest aqueduct on the C&O Canal. As part of the C&O Canal National Historical Park, this is where you will begin your trip along to tow path.

Once you are ready, head north along the canal (river on your left). Your next stop will be Point of Rocks (mile 48.2). Make a brief stop in the town of Point of Rocks. Visit the historic railroad station, built in 1873 and still in use today as part of the MARC line between Washington, D.C. and Martinsburg, West Virginia.

At mile 51.5, pass over the Catoctin Aqueduct, one of 11 stone aqueducts along the C&O canal. Stop in Brunswick for lunch (mile 55.0). At the junction of the C&O Canal and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, Brunswick was once a key commercial hub.

Return to Frederick via Route 340, and plan to stay for the evening. There is a variety of cuisines to choose from, be it Ethiopian, Spanish or American BBQ. After dinner, do some shopping around downtown at Frederick’s numerous independent merchants. In addition, there are a number of cultural and civic events occurring throughout the year. Downtown’s First Saturdays, occurring on the first Saturday of every month, draws quite a crowd with live music on the streets, special events and extended hours for downtown merchants (9 Pm or later).


Region: C&O Canal Towpath
Activity: Bicycling, History

Last updated: August 13, 2018

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Mailing Address:

Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
c/o Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park
142 W. Potomac St.

Williamsport, MD 21795


This phone will reach the main line for the C&O Canal National Historical Park.

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