Things to Do

C&O Canal Ice Cream Trail

By | Planning Your Visit, Things to Do, Towns and Communities


Rocky Point Creamery

4323A Tuscarora Road, Tuscarora, MD 21790

Best for: Local dairy products

Serves: Rocky Point Farm Ice Cream

10-minute bike ride from the towpath

Drive through sign

Rocky Point Creamery is a classic farm-to-cone style creamery located a little over a mile from the towpath in Point of Rocks. The creamery rotates over 80 flavors of ice cream weekly and offers specialty sundaes and shakes. Some recent flavors are butter pecan, crabby cow (old bay flavored), and strawberry limeade sorbet. You can make your visit to Rocky Point Creamery quick by using their one-of-a-kind ice cream drive-through, but you should stick around for their tractor-style playground, sunflower field in July and August, and events like food trucks and goat yoga. Weekly flavors and events are posted on their Facebook page.

Mango sorbet overlooking Rocky Point Farm


Towpath Creamery

12 South Maple Avenue, Brunswick, MD 21716

Best for: Most environmentally friendly

Serves: Ice Cream from Trickling Springs Creamery (Chambersburg, PA) and South Mountain Creamery (Frederick, MD)

3-minute walk from the towpath

Composting bin and bike pump

Opened in June 2018, Towpath Creamery is the newest addition to the towpath ice cream trail. The creamery is a one-stop shop for almost anything you could need in terms of s’mores supplies, paperback books, first aid supplies, toiletries, and souvenirs. Ice cream flavors include blueberry pomegranate sorbet, raspberry swirl, and salted caramel. You can build you own cookie-wich (ice cream sandwich), get a pupcup for your dog, or try a specialty sundae like the Train Tax (chocolate ice cream, hot fudge, peanut butter cups, pieces, health pieces). The cherry on top to your visit might be that the utensils and ice cream cups are compostable, and the creamery provides a composting bin.

The Towpath Creamery shares its location with BoxCar Burgers.


Cannonball Deli

128 High St. Harpers Ferry, WV 25425

Best for: Great views

Serves: Hershey’s Ice Cream

7-minute walk from the towpath

Road Runner Raspberry outside the Cannonball Deli

Potomac Street in Harpers Ferry has three walk-up ice cream spots: Creamy Creations, A La Mode Café, and Coffee Mill. If you want to beat the crowds and the heat, head around the corner to Cannonball Deli, where they have indoor and outdoor seating. Their eight flavors of ice cream include salty caramel and moose tracks. If you want to walk and eat, there are plenty of shops and museums to explore. A few feet away is the Appalachian Trail, which you can take to Jefferson Rock, or just say you’ve walked the width of the AT.  If you have a bike you don’t want to carry through town, lock it at the bottom of the steps by the towpath, or on the other side of the bridge.

Stairs from the towpath to the bridge. Image courtesy of Kevin Madzia/Century Cycles


Nutter’s Ice Cream

100 E. Main Street, Sharpsburg, MD 21782

Best for: Low prices for a large amount of ice cream

Serves: Ice Cream from Hood and Turkey Hill

12-minute bike ride from the towpath, a 3-minute drive from Antietam National Battlefield

Blueberry ice cream outside of Nutter’s

Founded in 1996, Nutter’s is the oldest creamery along the towpath and might be some of the most popular ice cream, with lines out the door on the weekends. Ice cream is not just a summer treat at Nutter’s, who also offers seasonal flavors such as peppermint stick, pumpkin pie, and orange pineapple. A personal favorite is white chocolate raspberry truffle and Pocono paws. Nutter’s has unbelievably low prices, which will make you want to turn a single scoop into a double, or a double scoop into a hot fudge brownie.

Decorations inside of Nutter’s

Desert Rose Café and Sweet Shoppe

2 E Potomac St, Williamsport, MD 21795

Best for: Interior Design

Serves: Ice Cream from HP Hood (Winchester, VA)

5-minute walk from the towpath

Rocky road ice cream overlooking Potomac St.

Desert Rose Café and Sweet Shoppe sits on the corner of Potomac St. and Conococheague St., just up the street from the towpath. Its small store front opens up into a 1960s-esque diner. Seasonal flavors include black raspberry, butter pecan, and cherry vanilla, or you can get a snow cone, custom lollipop, or banana split (big enough to share). Don’t forget your rewards card, because your tenth ice cream or specialty drink is free. If you are from out of town, make sure to pin your hometown on the map, where all 50 states are represented. Desert Rose also serves sandwiches, salads, and snacks, and makes cakes to order.

Desert Rose Cafe interior

Buddy Lou’s Eats Drinks and Antiques

11 E. Main Street, Hancock, MD 21750

Best for: Games and surrey rides

Serves: Soft Serve Ice Cream

2-minute walk from the towpath and the Western Maryland Rail Trail

Vanilla chocolate twist

In the basement of Buddy Lou’s, surrounded by antiques, you will find a soft serve machine. While the only flavors are chocolate and vanilla, you can add toppings, or make a float, a milkshake, or a blurry. Buddy Lou’s is definitely dog friendly with free pup cups and lots of outdoor seating.

Hang out and play checkers, trivial pursuit, dominoes, or another game that catches your fancy. There are plenty of places to rent bikes near the canal, but have you ever rented a surrey? Buddy Lou’s offers two and four-person surrey rentals to take on the rail trail.

Surreys behind Buddy Lou’s. Image courtesy of Buddy Lou’s


European Desserts and More

17 Howard Street, Cumberland, Maryland 21502

Best for: Authentic pastries

Serves: Ice Cream from Garber’s Ice Cream (Winchester, VA)

A few steps off the towpath, less than 500 ft from the end of the C&O Canal and the start of the Great Allegheny Passage trail

Chocolate ice cream overlooking the towpath.

European Desserts and More is one of the shops at Canal Place, where the C&O, the GAP, and the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad meet. It offers six flavors of ice cream including black raspberry and cookies & crème. Its real specialty is handmade traditional desserts, like baklava, bee sting cake, and filo pastries. Follow the towpath south, and you will find a green field to eat your ice cream or other treats, and view “The Cumberland,” a full-scale C&O Canal boat replica. This is the perfect place to treat yourself after your journey, or fuel up for the start of your trip.

Homemade authentic desserts





These shops are all in Canal Towns, nine towns that line the C&O Canal. Learn more about the Canal Towns Partnership here.

It’s National Park Week!

By | Things to Do

Our favorite week of the year, National Park Week, kicks off April 20! This is a time to celebrate America’s treasures, discover history and culture, and help conserve our country’s valuable natural resources.

Here are eight ways you can celebrate! Read More

6 Things We Love About Spring on the Canal

By | Things to Do

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

10 Architectural Wonders of the C&O Canal

By | History, Landmarks, Things to Do

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

10 Discoveries Along the C&O Canal

By | Planning Your Visit, Things to Do

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

Hidden Hiking Gems of Great Falls

By | Planning Your Visit, Things to Do

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.

Read More

9 Great Things to Do When You Visit Cushwa Basin in Williamsport

By | Landmarks, Planning Your Visit, Things to Do

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!
Read More

Top Hiking Trails along the C&O Canal

By | Planning Your Visit, Things to Do

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