Eleven aqueducts stand along the C&O Canal – some of the most impressive of the canal structures that stand today. Aqueducts transported the canal over streams and tributaries. Several have been rebuilt, including the Conococheague Aqueduct in Williamsport, which is watered and is one of the only places in the country where you can ride a boat over an aqueduct. The eleven aqueducts are all different – the stone they were constructed with varies, including red sandstone, grey limestone, white granite, white and pink quartzite. Some have fallen apart and exist only as ruins, while others have been lovingly restored by the National Park Service to their former glory. All stand testament to the engineering ingenuity and devoted labor that went into their construction and the important role they played in the growth of our country. Read More
The first breweries near the canal opened in 2016 and two more have opened since then. Many outdoor enthusiasts know a hike or bike ride followed by a craft beer is one of the best combinations out there.
There are over 6,500 breweries in the United States and each one is unique. Breweries can highlight local ingredients, traditions, and history.
Smoketown Brewing Station – Brunswick, MD (Mile 55)
Smoketown Brewing Station opened in 2016 in a former firehouse. The owner’s father worked in the firehouse as a firefighter, and now his son works in the same firehouse as a brewer. Smoketown has a family-friendly patio environment and is open to outside food. Grab a slice of pizza from King’s Pizza next door to enjoy with your beer. Smoketown hosts trivia and food trucks. Check their events page for more details.
Smoketown’s creative beer names incorporate historical and local references. “The Patsy New England IPA” is for country star Patsy Cline who performed in the events space upstairs and at the Brunswick Lions Club, now the Brunswick Heritage Museum. “Berlin Brown Ale” references one of Brunswick’s former names. “Lockhouse 28 Imperial Stout” is for the Lockhouse a few miles east on the towpath. Finally, “Walter’s Spirit Porter” is named after a man who used to work in the fire hall. Staff and guests report having seen his ghost.
Harpers Ferry Brewing – Purcellville, VA (Mile 60)
This brewery is technically in Purcellville, VA, but it is only a 5-to-10-minute drive from lower town Harpers Ferry. Harpers Ferry Brewing opened in 2018 and is family and dog friendly. During the summer, enjoy “The Needle”, named after a rapid on the Potomac River while you enjoy an amazing view and watch the rafters and tubers float down the Potomac River. Harpers Ferry Brewing often hosts live music, bingo nights, and food trucks. Check their Facebook page for more details.
Bavarian Brothers Brewing – Shepherdstown, WV (Mile 72)
Bavarian Brothers Brewing opened in 2019 as part of the Bavarian Inn, a European boutique resort operating in Shepherdstown since 1977. Relax in their brewpub, brew lounge, or outdoor beer garden all overlooking the Potomac River. Enjoy an Appalachia Ale or a Sozial,Session Ale, the German word for socialize. You can also order meals and small bites.
Cushwa Brewing Company – Williamsport, MD (Mile 99)
Opened in 2016, Cushwa Brewing Co. is a family- and dog-friendly brewery. They rotate food trucks weekly and host trivia, yoga, painting, and succulent planting events. Check their Facebook page for more details. Cushwa sells small bites, cans, and growlers to go. Their signature beer is the Cush, a fruity IPA. The Big Cush and the Cush with Wakatu are variations on the original.
Cushwa Brewing is named after the Cushwa Basin in Williamsport. The Cushwa Basin was a turning basin where boats could turn around. You can even see a canal boat in their logo and as part of the brewery’s décor.
1812 Brewery – Cumberland (Mile 184.5)
1812 Brewery is the first brewery in Allegany County, opened in 2017. It is located on Mason Road and is a 12-minute drive from the towpath in Cumberland. 1812 is a farm brewery located on 190 acres in a repurposed barn built in 1812. It has a taproom and outdoor patio, where dogs are allowed. They are family-friendly and offer light snacks and growlers.
They host live music, a craft and flea market, and private events. Check their Facebook page for more details. Some of their beers are historically named, including “Maddy’s Golden Ale” and “Monroe’s Ale” for Presidents James Madison and James Monroe, and “Ambush IPA” in reference to the Civil War history in the region.
The next time you’re enjoying the C&O Canal top off your visit with a locally brewed beer.
Brunswick, Harpers Ferry, Shepherdstown, and Williamsport are Canal Towns. Learn more about the Canal Towns Partnership here.
During this stressful time of social distancing and isolation, it is critically important you take care of your physical and mental health. Fortunately, the C&O Canal National Historical Park can offer you fresh air, relaxation, and a break from the news coverage. The western section of the C&O Canal offers many remote points of interest that are less frequently visited than popular eastern hubs such as Great Falls. Consider visiting some of these western gems along the canal for a stroll or a bike ride along the towpath — but make sure you are following all social distancing guidelines. If you have kids, take our C&O Canal Scavenger Hunt with you!
This time of year can be difficult for those of us with allergies to pollen and other grasses. Even though this can be frustrating at times, it’s important to get outside if you want to enjoy the spring. Sunshine and warm weather can be a huge mood-booster after the months of dreary, cold weather. Read More
Raise your hand if this has happened to you: A beautiful Saturday or Sunday dawns, and you pack your family into the car for an adventure in the C&O Canal National Historical Park. When you arrive at Great Falls to park, the line of cars to get in is a mile long! Read More
We compiled this list of fun museums in our Canal Towns as a way for you to pass the cold winter months when temperatures make the Park feel slightly less appealing. We did not anticipate this warm, Park-worthy weather, but we are sharing this list with you anyway –save it for the April showers! Read More
To some of us, winter is a time to stay indoors by the fire. But why would you stay indoors when the C&O Canal National Historical Park offers some of the most scenic areas to explore during the winter months? So put on some warm clothes and come experience the C&O Canal as a winter wonderland! Read More
At the C&O Canal Trust, we’re celebrating our 10th anniversary of providing financial and programmatic support to the C&O Canal National Historical Park. Over the years, we have picked up some tips from our Park Ranger colleagues to make the most of our visits to the Park. Here, we share 10 of our favorite tips with you. Learn and know before you go! Read More
The C&O Canal National Historical Park holds hundreds of secrets along its 184.5-mile length and is a wonderful place to explore both the natural and man-made worlds. In the Canal Discoveries section of the C&O Canal Trust’s website, Park Rangers describe 48 of these gems.
To celebrate our 10th anniversary, we’ve picked out 10 gems that you might not know about. The next time you are out in the Park, be sure to visit these sites! Read More
Everyone loves Billy Goat Trail Section A. Come down to Great Falls any weekend during the summer months and you’ll see a line of people stretching along the whole trail. With tricky rock scrambles, unique wildlife, and amazing river views, it is not difficult to see why this trail is so beloved and well-known. But if you’ve already experienced the magic of “Billy Goat A” or you just want a little more solitude with your wilderness, check out these great, lesser-known trails in the Great Falls area.
The Cushwa Basin, located in Williamsport, MD, is situated at the confluence of the Conococheague Creek and the Potomac River. Because this area is such a popular entry point to the C&O Canal towpath, there is a National Park Service Visitors Center located here, in the historic Cushwa Warehouse beside the basin. The warehouse is in the process of being restored to interpret the 1920’s era on the Canal, and the neighboring Conococheague Aqueduct is also being rebuilt. This historic area was once the home of brick manufacturing and shipment of coal along the Canal — canal boats would use the turning basin to load coal and bricks on their trips between Cumberland and Georgetown.
All Canal Lovers should visit the Cushwa Basin, check of the Visitors Center, hike the towpath, and explore Williamsport. Check out this list of 9 things you can do next time you visit!
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…”
Just 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