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.
4323A Tuscarora Road, Tuscarora, MD 21790
Best for: Local dairy products
Serves: Rocky Point Farm Ice Cream
10-minute bike ride from the towpath
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.
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
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.
128 High St. Harpers Ferry, WV 25425
Best for: Great views
Serves: Hershey’s Ice Cream
7-minute walk from the towpath
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
August 8 will be a big day for the Park with the ribbon-cutting for the newly-restored Conococheague Aqueduct and the ground-breaking for the new Park headquarters in Williamsport, Maryland. Please join us to celebrate these two landmark occasions!
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. Read More
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!
When you visit the Park, be sure to head out to the western end for a visit to the Paw Paw tunnel. Built as a bypass to very challenging terrain at Paw Paw Bends on the Potomac River, the 3,118 foot long tunnel, built by hand in the mid-1800s and containing close to 6 million bricks, is an engineering marvel.
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
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