Plan Your Visit: Park Highlights
If you are new to the C&O Canal National Historical Park, here are some of our most popular spots:
The towpath runs the length of the 184.5 mile long C&O Canal National Historical Park. Made of crushed stone, it is perfect for walking or biking. You can access the towpath from most of the points of interest on this website. Look for “trailheads” and “parking lots” that will allow you to access the towpath.
The towpath begins in Georgetown within the District of Columbia.
One of the most popular areas of the Park, Great Falls has an overlook offering a breathtaking view of the Great Falls of the Potomac River. The Historic Great Falls Tavern houses a Visitor Center and a Bike Rental (open on weekends), and many hiking trails are available, as well as towpath access.
Williamsport is one of nine Canal Towns, originally supporting the C&O Canal as a major commercial center and port. Today, the quaint town offers shops and restaurants. The iconic Cushwa Warehouse is reflected in the turning basin, and Canal Visitors Center is available.
A remarkable feat of engineering, the Paw Paw Tunnel was built to save five miles of construction by cutting across a neck of land formed by the Paw Paw bends. What resulted was the most notable landmark on the Canal – at three-fifths of a mile and 5,800,000 bricks in all.
Cumberland is a beautiful town nestled in one of the few natural passable cuts in the Allegheny Mountains of Western Maryland. One of our Canal Towns, Cumberland is where the C&O Canal ends.
If you are looking for a unique place to stay during your Canal visit, look no farther than our six Canal Quarters, which are historic lockhouses restored and open for overnight stays. Each lockhouse tells a story about a different time period in canal history and allows guests to step back in time to experience life as a lock keeper.
Nine quaint communities along the C&O Canal form the Canal Towns Partnership. Each provides wonderful stores to explore, treats to sample, and beds to rest in — plus lots of charm!
Park Rangers have written over forty Canal Discoveries that tell their personal stories of hidden gems up and down the Canal.