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Maryland

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C&O Canal Towpath Western Maryland Rail Trail
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C&O Canal Towpath

The C&O Canal Towpath runs 185 miles along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal paralleling the Potomac River from Washington, DC, to Cumberland, MD. Although the canal today is mostly drained, it is now a National Historic Park and the towpath a popular recreational trail. A ride on the towpath is a ride through history including the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and tracks a central component of transportation history. Sights range from urban to wilderness areas, and the 3,000+ foot Paw Paw Canal Tunnel. Activities along the towpath include hiking, camping, biking, kayaking, horseback riding, skiing, and visiting historical sites.

At Cumberland, the towpath joins with the Great Allegheny Trail to continue 141 miles to Pittsburgh, PA. Other trail connections include the Western Maryland Rail Trail (see below), the Mount Vernon Trail, and Appalachian Trail.


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Location: Washington, DC, to Cumberland, MD (See map, left)
Distance: 185 miles total
Surface: Clay and crushed stone
More information (open in a new window):
- National Park Service-Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park
Biking on the C&O Canal Towpath near Hancock, MD
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Views along the towpath at Hancock.
Water has been restored here, an example of
how the canal used to look.
An old lock. The building in the background is now the Hancock Visitor Center Boat ramp to the Potomac

Western Maryland Rail Trail

In the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and maintained by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the 22-mile paved trail runs on an old rail bed along the C&O Canal and Potomac River from Fort Frederick to Pearre Station, Maryland. Hancock, MD, at the midpoint of the trail is a quaint town with a lot of history in this area. This is a good example of a town that was recreated by its rail-trail - bypassed when I-70 was built, the town embraces the trail as a major attraction drawing people to the area. Crossovers to the C&O Canal Towpath (see above) can vary the ride.


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Location: Fort Frederick to Pearre Station, Maryland (See map, left)
Distance: 22 miles total
Surface: Asphalt
More information (open in a new window):
- Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources-Western Maryland Rail Trail
Biking on the Western Maryland Rail Trail near Hancock
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Trail at Hancock Trail heading west Pretty scenery Falling rock zone!

More information on biking in Maryland (opens in a new window):
- Maryland DOT-Bicycle Trails in Maryland
- Rails to Trails Conservancy-Bike Trails in Maryland

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