It’s officially known as the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, but we usually refer to it as the ‘towpath’ or just the ‘C&O.’ During the summer of 2009, we biked the entire length of the towpath in three days. What an adventure! Since we had such a great time, we decided to do it again this summer. The entire length of the C&O Towpath is 184 1/2 miles and it runs from Georgetown, D.C. to Cumberland, Maryland. We actually did the trip ‘backwards’, starting in Cumberland and heading towards the 0-mile marker at the end of the trail in Georgetown. The weather was perfect. In fact, a few of the mornings were a bit chilly. We managed, once again, to complete the ride in three days, just like we had done the first time.

Polly and the Mule

Western Maryland Railroad Station, Cumberland, MD

How many miles is it?





The path runs past the Western Maryland Railroad Station, which is ironic since the canal system and the railroads were actually arch enemies from a bygone era. It was thought that a great canal system could be built to modernize the transportation of goods from one place to another. The project took so long to complete, however, that the train line, which was started many years later, was finished and operational long before the canal and accompanying path. If you aren’t familiar with canal paths…mules pulled fully loaded canal boats from one place to the next. The canal was used for many years as intended, but it was actually a dead project before it even started, because it was unable to financially compete with the rail system that ran parallel to it.

Let the Adventure Begin....

I think we're heading in the right direction!





You don’t have to walk or bike the full length of the trail to take advantage of what the C&O offers. The C&O Canal trail is a perfect place for families, walkers, bikers, nature lovers, history buffs, and outdoor enthusiasts of any type! We particularly enjoy looking at the locks and lock houses that are scattered along the length of the old canal.

This is one of the many lock houses along the C&O Canal

Peddaling towards the Paw Paw Tunnel

Inside Looking Out

Tornado Damage Between Mile Markers 142 & 141

This might be a little tricky!

Thanks, Polly for showing us that we have 11.8 more miles to go!





Day #1 was an especially long day because we had to deal with the unexpected ‘road block’ caused by tornado damage. We had to climb up, over, and around trees for about 1/4 of a mile, while also hauling our bikes over the obstacles as well. We were very happy to finally see the sign for Hancock, even though we still had 11.8 miles to go!

A Reminder of the Past!

Oh, Scary! The Devil's Eyebrow!

Keep reading…
Day #2 & Day #3 on the C&O Canal

7 people like this post.


7 Responses to “Day 1 on the C&O Canal (Polly #3)”

  1. This is fantastic! It really is such a gorgeous ride and that counts for a like haul. Having something to look at as opposed to open plains of waving wheat or red sand blowing everywhere.

    The area hit by the tornado looks like our area. It’s amazing the kind of damage a tornado can do.

    Looking forward to reading more.


  2. Thanks for the comment, Melissa. We’re still in the process of doing the write-up for day two, and at some point, day three will be coming. We did the trip back in ’09, and it was a bit of a struggle, but we were well-prepared this time and did a great job throughout. I would highly recommend a trip down the C&O to anyone who enjoys history, nature, or scenery. The path can be rough because of rain and flooding, but it’s “our” nearby national park and a special place in general.

  3. Great pictures! It looks like you had wonderful weather, which I’m sure made the ride even more enjoyable. I just can’t imagine riding that many miles at one time, so I really admire someone that can. Good job!

  4. Thanks for the comments…it was a great trip!

  5. What’s the red brick structure? Also, I hate it when people put graffiti on park signs. It’s rude!

  6. I think they were trying to be helpful by showing how far it was from the Maryland Rail Trail, but you’re right, graffiti is never a good idea! The brick structure used to be a cement factory.

  7. I agree! Why do people have to write on park signs? Bummer!