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Things to Do

The Bucket List – C&O Canal Style

Adventure travel, fun activities, volunteering, connecting with nature, learning about history – what’s on your bucket list? We’ve come up with 12 great ideas for you to try along the towpath. See how many you’ve done and how many still await!

Mile Marker 0 by Carole Lewis Anderson

Photo by Carole Lewis Anderson

  1. Find Mile Marker 0 – Locating this elusive mile marker can be a challenge. A little Internet digging can help you find clear instructions to the beginning of the canal.
  2. Stay in a LockhouseCanal Quarters has seven rehabilitated lockhouses from which to choose. Each reflects a significant era in the Canal’s history. An overnight stay is truly a step back in time.
  3. Visit a Canal Town – The Canal Towns Partnership is comprised of ten towns, four counties, and two states located along the towpath. A visit to these unique towns reveals the special charm of these areas that are an integral part of the Canal, both past and present.
  4. Enjoy a day at Fletchers Cove – Join the locals and go fishing, cycling, or take to the water at Fletchers Cove. Available rentals include boats, canoes, kayaks, and bicycles. Picnic facilities are also available.
  5. Hike the Billy Goat Trail – Comprised of three separate trails, the Billy Goat Trail offers varying levels of difficulty making it a perfect hiking spot for folks of all ages and abilities.
    Jordan Junction Campsite - PATC GPS Rangers

    Hiker-Biker site near our Canal Town of Williamsport – Photo by PATC GPS Rangers

  6. Stay at a hiker-biker campsite – There are over thirty hiker-biker campsites – all located along the towpath and offer a primitive camping experience like no other. All are easily accessible by bike and a few can be reached by car. All are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  7. Ride a Canal Boat – Take a leisurely canal boat ride and experience history firsthand. Great Falls offers rides on the Charles F. Mercer, a replica 1870’s packet boat. Williamsport provides rides on replica 1900’s electric launch boats. Be sure to check the Park website for schedules before planning your canal boat ride. A new boat program offered by park partner Georgetown Heritage provides Canal boat rides in Georgetown.
  8. Attend Park After Dark – Guests can kick back at Historic Great Falls Tavern and enjoy live music, great food, libations, unique live auction items, a roaring bonfire, and more! This event is a hot ticket for its one-of-a-kind atmosphere and historic touches and serves as the C&O Canal Trust’s largest fundraiser.
    PAD and Mercer at night

    Canal Boat “The Mercer” – Park After Dark at Historic Great Falls Tavern

  9. The Paw Paw Tunnel – Hike through this 3,118 foot long engineering marvel, built by hand in the mid 1800s. Bring a light – you’ll need it! This is a must-see and rated five stars on TripAdvisor.
  10. Volunteer at Canal Community Days – Donate a morning to giving back to the Park with a volunteer experience at one of the C&O Canal Trust’s Canal Community Days. Sign up on our website for a fulfilling day of service.
  11. Visit the Great Falls of the Potomac – Walk out to the overlook and enjoy the rushing water of the falls. Located at Great Falls Tavern, the falls are a scenic delight. You may be lucky enough to spy Great Blue Herons and Bald Eagles in this area.
  12. 1845magnetComplete a TowpathGO Challenge – The C&O Canal towpath provides a challenging but satisfying ride or hike for the hardy souls who manage to complete the entire length. Create your own fundraiser on our website and let friends and family follow your journey.