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C&O Canal Trust

Towpath Resurfacing Has Begun!

By | Explore Your Canal

If you’re planning on heading out to hike or bike along the towpath in the next couple of weeks, you might want to try out the five-mile section between Edwards Ferry and Whites Ferry (Mile 30.8 – Mile 35.5). This is the first stretch of the towpath to undergo a complete “makeover” as part of the Park’s multiyear, 80-mile towpath resurfacing project. The towpath has been graded to facilitate water drainage, and resurfaced with the same durable material that bikers enjoy on the Great Allegheny Passage (Trail) from Pittsburgh to Cumberland. Read More

“The Great Ride” Documentary to Air in March

By | Explore Your Canal, News

A new documentary featuring the C&O Canal and the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP Trail) will air in March on WQED in Pittsburgh and in May on MPT in Maryland. One of America’s most treasured biking destinations, cyclists from around the world enjoy 335 uninterrupted miles of breathtaking scenery and fascinating history on the two connecting trails, which run from Washington, D.C. to Pittsburgh, PA. Fellow cyclists serve as the tour guides on this video journey. Read More

African American Civilian Conservation Corps Project Wins Award

By | Canal Quarters, Explore Your Canal, News

Last year, the C&O Canal Trust and the C&O Canal National Historical Park worked with Dr. Josh Howard of Passel Historical Consulting on a project that traced the history of the African American Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) along the C&O Canal. The resulting report, “Our Only Alma Mater:” The Civilian Conservation Corps and the C&O Canal, was recently awarded an Excellence in Consulting Award from the National Council on Public History. Read More

In Winter There is Beauty to Be Found Along the C&O Canal

By | Explore Your Canal, Photography

The C&O Canal National Historical Park has much to offer during the winter months to park visitors who enjoy the colder temperatures. Snow on the ground provides the opportunity for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing and offers a beautiful backdrop for hiking, dog walking, bird watching, and photography. Frigid temperatures usually find folks taking to the ice for a solitary skate or a pickup game of ice hockey. Enjoy winter photos of the C&O Canal National Park, courtesy of our monthly Facebook photo contest entrants. Read More

C&O Canal Trust Launches Job Skills Development Program

By | News

The C&O Canal Trust recently launched a new Job Skills Development Program that will provide hands-on experiences in a National Park setting to disadvantaged youth ages 14-17 during the spring and summer of 2019. The program will expose its participants to training in preservation, conservation, and maintenance projects, and will also provide enrichment programs will resume building, recreational opportunities, and job shadowing. Read More

Sponsor Canal Pride and Help the Park Recover

By | Canal Pride, News

2019 is going to be a very busy year for our Canal Pride program as the Trust works with volunteers from our canal communities to help the Park recover from the floods of 2018 and the effects of the government shutdown. Beginning in March, the Trust will recruit over 1,000 Canal Pride volunteers to undertake projects throughout the year along the 184.5-mile length of the canal: campground and picnic area improvements, towpath and trail repairs, building maintenance and historic preservation, invasive plant and trash removal, native landscaping, and more.

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Canal For All Engages New Audiences

By | News

In 2016, the C&O Canal Trust embarked on a mission to ensure the C&O Canal National Historical Park would be relevant and cared for in future generations. Called the “Canal For All” initiative, the program sought to develop lasting, balanced partnerships with African American and Latino communities in Montgomery County, MD, where 38 percent of the population are Hispanic or African American. Read More

Shutdown Impacts the C&O Canal

By | News

As the government shutdown stretches into its second month, the C&O Canal Trust continues our work in support of the C&O Canal National Historical Park, but without our valued National Park Service (NPS) colleagues at our side. Because we share office space which was closed due to the shutdown, the Trust staff have been working from home as we plan for our spring Canal Pride events, manage Canal Quarters, and raise funds for towpath resurfacing and Canal Classrooms. Read More

Winning Photos from Our 2018 Facebook Photo Contests

By | Photography

Each month the C&O Canal Trust holds a photo contest on our Facebook page of photographs taken in the C&O Canal National Historical Park and its surrounding Canal Towns. Votes are placed by “liking” the photos. The winner receives bragging rights and their photo at the top of our Facebook and Twitter pages for one month. We receive beautiful photos every month and wanted to share our 2018 winners with you.  Read More

Surviving Hurricane Agnes at Lockhouse 6

By | Canal Quarters, Stories

The threat of Hurricane Florence this past September reminded people across the Mid-Atlantic about past hurricanes that have devastated the area.

Aftermath of Hurricane Agnes at Lock 7 – NPS photo

In June of 1972, Hurricane Agnes came roaring into Maryland. It would go on to cause over $110,000,000 worth of damage in Maryland alone.  Susan S. Garmon was a 17 year-old teenager at the time, living in Lockhouse 6 with her family in the newly-created Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. This is her story. Read More

#MyCanal – Riding the Towpath: A Natural vs. Man-Made Continuum by Joe Schlag

By | Stories

I embarked on my first towpath ride on Saturday, July 29, planning to ride from Georgetown to Cumberland over a week’s time. This was not my first time going long-distance on the towpath, as I participated in the Sierra Club’s 50 mile walk from Washington, D.C. to Harpers Ferry, WV when I was a decade younger. But this was my first time traversing the miles by bike. Read More

The Bald Eagle Has Landed

By | Nature

The Bald Eagle, considered a sign of strength since the times of the ancient Romans, has been our national symbol since 1782. Fun fact: Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to his daughter in 1784, described the bald eagle as “a bird of bad moral character”. This regal bird has now become an icon symbolizing American strength and fortitude. Read More

Feeling Blue Can Be a Good Thing!

By | Nature

March and April are the months to make a visit to the C&O Canal towpath to search for Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica).

These gorgeous blue flowers create wonderful patches of color along the towpath and are a welcome sight for those who are tired of the dreary winter weather.

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Top Hiking Trails along the C&O Canal

By | Planning Your Visit, Things to Do
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Photo Sean Matthews

There are a variety of hiking trails in or near the Park. Probably the most well-known is the Billy Goat Trail, comprised of three sections (A,B, and C), with three different levels of difficulty.  At 1.7 miles in length, and with an estimated completion time of 2-3 hours, Section A is the most strenuous for the serious hiker. Section B offers more of a mid-level hiking challenge and is great for birdwatching in the spring, while Section C offers an easy stroll and plenty of shade for the warm summer months as well as beautiful leaf color in the fall.

Near Harpers Ferry, the canal joins the Appalachian Trail and affords several unique hiking experiences with plenty of history thrown in. Weverton Cliffs is a popular trail with steep terrain, switchbacks, and a pretty view of the Potomac River.  Maryland Heights, site of the first Civil War battle in Maryland between Confederate and Union forces, provides a wonderful view of the town. Hike up to Jefferson Rock and you’ll see the view that inspired Thomas Jefferson to say “…this scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic…”

View from Maryland Heights - Wikimedia CommonsJust a hop, skip, and a jump from the towpath, near milepost 112, lies Fort Frederick – a historic stone frontier fort used during the French and Indian War as well as the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.  Continue heading west to the Town Creek area of the Park and you can access Green Ridge State Park, the Paw Paw Tunnel, and Town Creek Aqueduct for a variety of hiking options.

View from Maryland Heights