Historic Shepherdstown – Just a Bridge Away from the Trail

Lock 38, a C&O Canal commercial hub in the 19th century, beckons you to cross the river and enter the oldest town in West Virginia. Founded in 1762, Shepherdstown remains a unique experience in the 21st century. The river contains the ruins of rail bridges, car bridges and a ferry. The old riverfront area, a historical commercial hub that was the aperture to the river and the towns across the river, is today a boat ramp for kayakers, canoeists, and fishermen. This was the area where James Rumsey experimented with a boat that would go upstream with a steam engine. The Rumsey Monument Park is a testament to his invention and welcomes trail visitors for a quiet picnic and a world
class scenic view of the river.

From Lock 38 proceed up Canal Rd. and turn left onto MD. 34 before crossing the James Rumsey bridge into Shepherdstown, WV. Ferry Hill Plantation is on your right, a 19th century plantation home currently owned by the National Park Service.

Cross the bridge into Shepherdstown and you’ll find a town full of quaint shops and comfortable cafes. German Street hasn’t changed much in 250 years. Pick up a walking tour guide at the Visitors Center on the corner of German and Princess Street before proceeding down German Street to the River Road. One mile down the River Road is the famous river crossing Pack Horse Ford where Native American tribes forded the Patomack River and General Lee retreated after the battle of Antietam.

Make a right turn onto Trough Rd, a hilly country road that has seen armies and settlers for over 250 years. Trough Road crosses over Flowing Springs Rd (Rte 240) at mile 4.6 and becomes Gardners Lane. The beautiful Jefferson County country side with its scenic view turns into a narrow lane leading to Morgan Grove Park.

Turning right onto 480 at 7.3 miles takes you back into Shepherdstown to shop, eat a hearty meal or just stroll around an historic town and loop up to the Rumsey Monument for a scenic view of the Potomac River.

For more information on Shepherdstown and other towns along the canal, visit C&O Canal Towns.


Region: C&O Canal Towpath, Two Rivers
Activity: Bicycling, Civil War, History

Last updated: July 9, 2021

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Contact Info

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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