E-Bikes on the Towpath

By | News

You may have heard that e-bikes are now legal to ride in National Parks and on other public lands. Whether you’re delighted to be able to take your e-bike on the towpath, or worried about how this will impact your experience in the Park, please read on.


On August 29, 2019 the US Department of the Interior Secretarial Order 3376 called for the National Park Service to exempt all e-bikes from the definition of motor vehicles and revise rules to be consistent with the order, which states that E-bikes are “allowed where other types of bicycles are allowed and prohibited where other type of bicycles are prohibited.” The National Park Service adopted this order on August 30 in Policy Memorandum 19-01.


E-bike is defined as a “two or three wheeled cycle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts.”

C&O Canal National Historical Park Rules

The C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) has implemented the rule that e-bikes are allowed where traditional bicycles are allowed, and prohibited where traditional bicycles are prohibited. Additionally, e-bike users must pedal at all times while in the Park. Using an e-bike motor without pedaling is prohibited in the Park.

It’s important for all cyclists to respect the rules of the towpath, regardless of the type of bike that they are riding:

  • Respect the 15 MPH maximum speed limit on the towpath.
  • Dismount and walk across aqueducts and footbridges.
  • Dismount in congested areas such as Great Falls.
  • Yield right of way to all pedestrians, horses and mules.
  • When approaching others sound a bell or announce yourself loudly within 100 feet. Be respectful of those who may be hard of hearing or need a little more time to move out of your way.

Learn more about hiking and biking on the C&O Canal National Historical Park website.

Sign demonstrates trail etiquette courtesy of the USDA Forest Service

Bike Your Park Day 2019

By | History, Landmarks, News

The last Saturday in September is Bike Your Park Day, an initiative created by the Adventure Cycling Association to promote biking in national parks, state parks, and other public lands. Lowell Markey, longtime volunteer with the C&O Canal National Historical Park, led an interpretive bike ride on September 28 to celebrate this year’s Bike Your Park Day. Visitors got to experience the new towpath surface near Shepherdstown and discover the history of this part of the park.

Beginning at Lock 38 in Shepherdstown, Markey painted this section of the towpath as previously being a happening place with many operational mills, stores, and inns.

Volunteer Markey introducing the ride.


Downstream at the Antietam Creek Aqueduct, the group met up with Antietam Battlefield Ambassador Joe Morgan. America’s 12-hour deadliest battle was one of the first battles to be photographed and the first time many Americans saw the realities of war. Morgan outlined the timeline of the battle in relation to the towpath and spoke about the importance of these photos, which are available on Antietam Battlefield’s website.

Volunteer Morgan speaking to the group on the Antietam Creek Aqueduct.


The group continued on to Dargan’s Bend, passing many other cyclists enjoying the park, before heading back to Shepherdstown to complete this 16 mile trip. Markey is guiding similar biking and walking events on October 12, 19, and 26. Visit to learn more.

Shepherdstown is part of the Canal Towns Partnership. Keep up with canal town events on Facebook and Instagram.

Becky Curtis departs after 8 years with Trust

By | News
In September, the C&O Canal Trust said goodbye to long-time Director of Programs and Partnerships Becky Curtis, who has moved with her husband to Santa Barbara, CA. Becky joined the Trust in 2011 and has played an integral role in the organization’s growth over the past eight years.
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Community Bridges Overnight Programs

By | News

On August 22nd and 28th, the C&O Canal Trust hosted two groups of girls from Community Bridges Inc. at Lockhouse 6. As part of the Trust’s Canal for All Initiative, the groups were given a brief lecture about the history of the canal from a Canal Classrooms teacher and spent the night in the lockhouse.

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Canal Classrooms 2018/2019 Reaches Over 7,000 Students

By | News

Over 7,000 K-12th grade students benefited over the 2018/2019 school year from the Park’s award-winning Canal Classrooms program.  This curriculum-based program, supported in part by C&O Canal Trust donors, allowed young people from a wide variety of backgrounds to learn the unique history of the C&O Canal and to deepen their knowledge of the natural world in one of the most biologically diverse national parks in the United States.

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23 Miles of Towpath Now Resurfaced

By | News

Year One of the Park’s multi-year towpath resurfacing project is complete! Towpath users can now enjoy 23 miles of completely rehabilitated towpath, from Edwards Ferry (Mile 30.8) to Whites Ferry (Mile 35.5) in Montgomery County, and from Brunswick Family Campground (Mile 54) in Frederick County, to the Shepherdstown Bridge (Mile 72) in Washington County.

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Conservation Job Corp Wraps Up for 2019

By | News

The Conservation Jobs Corps (CJC) is a new program built off the successful Maryland Conservation Corps (MCC). After years of seeing the benefits that MCC provides to young adults and the natural resources they protect and restore, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources expanded the program to include a younger age group. By partnering with community organizations, teens and young adults are able to work alongside natural resource staff to conserve Maryland’s natural landscapes.

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Park Updates: August 2019

By | News

At 184.5 miles long and with more historical structures than any other national park, the C&O Canal National Historical Park is always a work in progress. This summer, however, visitors will be able to enjoy the fruits of several big projects nearing completion. Read More

Latino Conservation Week Celebration at Great Falls

By | News

This year, the C&O Canal hosted 90 middle school students from Identity Inc. at Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center in celebration of Latino Conservation Week. This week was created in 2014 by the Hispanic Access Foundation to provide Latino youth and families with outdoor recreation opportunities near their homes and for Latino communities to demonstrate their commitment to conservation. Sherry Guillen, the Community Volunteer Ambassador for the Park, organized a day of hiking, biking, and learning activities. Guillen wanted kids to realize what resources are available to them and provide them with recreational opportunities that they might not have experienced before. There were many first-time experiences that day, including being in the Park, seeing Great Falls, and riding a bike.

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C&O Canal Superintendent Kevin Brandt Announces Retirement

By | News

C&O Canal Superintendent Kevin Brandt has announced his retirement from the National Park Service effective at the end of September 2019. Brandt helped to found the C&O Canal Trust 12 years ago as the official nonprofit group supporting the C&O Canal National Historical Park and has worked in partnership with us as we have grown our programmatic and philanthropic support to the park

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Iconic “Swains” Lockhouse Opens to Public as Canal Quarters Overnight Accommodations

By | News

After three years of fundraising, planning, and construction, the C&O Canal Trust, the nonprofit partner of the C&O Canal National Historical Park, today cut the ribbon at the newly-rehabilitated Swains Lockhouse. This historic lockhouse, located at a popular entrance point to the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) at Lock 21 in Potomac, Maryland, will join the C&O Canal Trust’s award-winning Canal Quarters program as the seventh lockhouse available to guests for overnight stays. Read More

Newly-Rehabilitated Swains Lockhouse to Join Canal Quarters Program

By | News, Swains

After three years of fundraising, planning, and construction, the doors to the newly-rehabilitated Swains Lockhouse will swing open to guests this summer. This historic lockhouse, located at a popular entrance point to the C&O Canal National Historical Park at Lock 21 in Potomac, Maryland, will join the C&O Canal Trust’s award-winning Canal Quarters program as the seventh lockhouse available to guests for overnight stays. Read More

Canal Towpath Resurfacing Underway

By | News

Visitors accessing the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) at Edwards Ferry (Mile 30.8) will find a smooth surface running to Whites Ferry (Mile 35.5) – the first five miles of the towpath to be resurfaced as part of the Park’s proposed multi-year, 80-mile towpath resurfacing project. Read More

Thank You Canal Pride Volunteers!

By | News, Uncategorized
We had a great showing of support at our first Canal Pride Day of 2019 at the Paw Paw Campground, held Saturday, April 27. Forty volunteers tackled many tasks during the three hour event. The volunteers removed invasive plant species like garlic mustard and Japanese barberry, beautified the campground, and resurfaced the towpath inside the Paw Paw tunnel.

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Vermicomposting Workshop Scheduled for June 8

By | News
Vermicomposting, the process of using worms to break down food, has many benefits that can indirectly impact the C&O Canal National Historical Park and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Food waste and trash both bring challenges to the Park, contributing to climate change and impacting the native ecosystems we are trying to protect. If you are interested in learning how you can contribute to the health of the C&O Canal, improve your home gardens, and spare your wallet, join the C&O Canal Trust for this free educational workshop, scheduled for Saturday, June 8.

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Park Project Updates

By | News

At 184.5 miles long and with more historical structures than any other national park, the C&O Canal National Historical Park is always a work in progress. This summer, however, visitors will be able to enjoy the fruits of several big projects that nearing completion. Read More

New Conservation Jobs Corps Program Launches

By | News

What’s it like to work in a national park? Would this be a good fit for me?

This spring and early summer, a group of teenagers from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in the National Park Service have had the opportunity to answer those questions as participants in a new Canal For All program developed by the Trust to inspire these young people to aspire to a career in the Park Service they may not have yet considered. Read More

“The Great Ride” Documentary to Air in March

By | 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 | 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

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

C&O Canal Trust To Assist C&O Canal National Historical Park in Shutdown Recovery Efforts

By | News

With the re-opening of the government, the C&O Canal Trust, the official nonprofit partner to the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP), will be working closely with Park staff in the coming weeks to assess damage done to the C&O Canal NHP during the month-long closure, and to identify immediate and longer-term maintenance needs. The Trust will then leverage its extensive volunteer network to provide boots on the ground to take care of those projects suited to the capacity and skills of community volunteers. 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

Artwork Contest announced to celebrate Canal Pride program’s 12th anniversary

By | News

Hagerstown, MD – The C&O Canal Trust today announced a t-shirt artwork contest to commemorate the 12th anniversary of their Canal Pride events. Amateur artists are invited to create and submit artwork that celebrates the 12th anniversary of this volunteer-driven event. The winning design will be printed on our Canal Pride t-shirts and worn by hundreds of volunteers as they work in the C&O Canal National Historical Park during the spring months. Read More