Happy Earth Day! We may all be stuck at home, but that will not stop us from celebrating this holiday. Find out how you can make a difference this Earth Day by implementing the five tips below!
1. Give Extra Love to Your House Plants
Don’t have plants? You can find seeds without leaving your home! Save those cores from consumed fruits and veggies and plant them in small containers. You will be amazed at how quickly the ends of lettuce or an apple or lemon seed will grow.
Stuck at home? You can still engage with the C&O Canal! The C&O Canal Trust has developed several fun activities that you and your family can do to keep engaged and learn new things, all from the comfort of your home! Interested in word puzzles? Complete our canal-themed word search and crossword puzzle. The park also has some cool coloring pages on their Facebook page and a Canal Kids Online Portal with information and activities.
Explore the canal from home by browsing the C&O Canal Trust website, including our Canal Discoveries page which has information about several of the canal’s hidden gems.
If you get stumped visit this page to see the solution.
Written by Callie Fishburn and Esther Herbers
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!
The Brunswick Heritage Museum, previously the Brunswick Railroad Museum, tells the story of Brunswick, Maryland, the B&O Railroad, and the C&O Canal. Whether you are a canal buff, model train enthusiast, baseball fan, or just want to learn more about the area, the Brunswick Heritage Museum has something for you.
Even though it’s technically been spring for a few weeks, it sure hasn’t felt like it! And while there’s still a bit more cold weather to come, the next few weeks look like they could be the true beginning of warm weather for the Canal.
In honor of spring (slowly) coming to the area, we at the Trust have compiled a list of things we love about spring on the Canal. Read More
It’s February, and spring is still weeks away. Snow may be sparse right now, but it’s only a matter of time. There is so much that the C&O Canal offers during the winter that you might not know about. Below, we bring you 10 of our favorite things to do along the C&O Canal in the winter: Read More
The 1870s are alive and well in the C&O Canal National Historical Park. Experience a history lesson, a unique boat ride, and the famous C&O Canal mules when you take a trip on the Charles F. Mercer canal boat at the historic Great Falls Tavern. It’s a great way to see how folks lived and worked along the canal during its heyday.
The Charles F. Mercer is a replica packet Canal boat, named after Charles Fenton Mercer who was the first president of the C&O Canal Company from 1828-1833. Packet boats like the Mercer operated regularly and carried visitors back and forth between Georgetown and the Great Falls area. Your ride on the Mercer will begin at the Tavern and take you upstream through a historic operating lock as your boat is raised eight feet to meet the height of the canal waters. The boat, fully loaded with passengers, will then be pulled upstream by the famous C&O Canal mules while park rangers in period clothing describe what life was like for people who lived and worked on the canal during the 1800s.
Tickets can be purchased at the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center in the park at 11710 MacArthur Blvd., Potomac, MD. The Charles F. Mercer boat capacity is 65 people and boat programs last approximately one hour. Rides are offered weekends, including some Fridays, during the spring and summer. Check if the boat is operating before setting out at https://www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/great-falls-canal-boat-rides.htm.
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The C&O Canal National Historic Park has something for everyone when it comes to water activities. From a relaxing day of fishing on the Potomac River to kayaking along the canal, most folks can find a fun way to make a splash! 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
The C&O Canal National Historical Park boasts some of the most breathtaking scenery in the area. Not only is our Park magnificent to look at, but it is home to many natural and man-made wonders. The architects and builders who built the canal had to overcome rocky land, mountains, and changes in elevation, and through these difficulties, many architectural wonders were born. Below, we take a closer look at 10 of them in honor of the C&O Canal Trust’s 10th anniversary. 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
Please check Park updates before planning your visit to ensure that trails are open. Changes in weather can affect which trails are open. News from the Park can be found here.
The C&O Canal and towpath are truly year-round attractions within the Park. While biking, hiking, and running are enjoyed by many, it takes a true appreciation for cold weather to enjoy the park when the temperature drops and snow begins to fall. Read More