The air is crisp and cool, and pumpkin spice is on every menu – fall is here! We are particularly partial to autumn along the C&O Canal, and we have assembled a list of things you can do to enjoy the season:
Hike and Cycle:
The heat and humidity have waned, so you can log more miles while enjoying the fresh air and changing leaves. Portions of the towpath have been resurfaced and will provide a smoother ride. Or maybe it is time for you to do the entire 184.5-mile C&O Canal, or add on the 150 miles of GAP Trail and head all the way to Pittsburgh.
Did you know the C&O Canal is home to a rock climbing wall? Offering easy and moderate top-rope climbs, Carderock is popular, but could be less crowded as the weather cools off.
In a Park with 20,000 acres of trees, there is bound to be a lot of fall foliage to enjoy. Below are some of our favorite spots to see the colors. While you are leaf-peeping, take some photos to enter in our monthly photo contest.
- Gold Mine Trail and Great Falls Overlook. Enjoy the color along with the roaring Great Falls.
- Widewater and Big Slackwater. Both offer great views of fall foliage, plus there are always lovely reflections in the water.
- Maryland Heights and Jefferson Rock. Part of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park adjacent to the C&O Canal, both offer stunning views of the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers and the quaint town of Harpers Ferry.
- Although not in the C&O Canal National Historical Park, you can see beautiful views of the Park and the Potomac River from Prospect Peak in West Virginia.
- Anywhere on the tree-lined towpath, you can experience a corridor of fall color, while crunching along on the fallen leaves.
- The western-most sections of the Park offers views of fall colors on the mountains.
Drive the C&O Canal Byway and Visit the Canal Towns:
Did you know there is a scenic byway that follows the path of the C&O Canal? You can drive all or part of the 236 miles of country roads and state highways along the C&O Canal Byway to enjoy the fall foliage and explore the engineering marvels of the canal.
Be sure to stop at our Canal Towns on your journey — nine unique towns that line the canal. Each offers quaint shops, intimate restaurants, and homey B&Bs to help you extend your trip. See a few of the fall events in our Canal Towns here.
Stay in a Canal Quarters Lockhouse:
Any season is a good season for a visit to one of our seven Canal Quarters lockhouses. Bring your family or a group of friends for an overnight stay in a historic home, and after a crisp, fall hike, gather around the campfire for dinner and hot cider. The evening may find you playing old-fashioned board games or telling ghost stories, before you drift off to sleep to the sounds of water peacefully flowing outside your windows. Lockhouses 6 and 21 have heat, but our “rustic” lockhouses are also fun in the fall! (https://www.canaltrust.org/programs/canal-quarters/)