This page last modified 01/2/17

MVA C&O CANAL YEAR ROUND EVENTS
YRE2017/747, 748, 749, 753 & 699

1 January - 31 December 2017

Canal Boat AVA Logo

General Information: The C&O Canal National Historical Park winds its way 184.5 miles from Georgetown in Washington, DC to Cumberland in beautiful western Maryland. The trail, winding its way along a well-kept towpath nestled between the Potomac River and the canal, is a trip through history with 74 lift locks, restored lock houses, aqueducts, and the amazing mile-long Paw Paw tunnel. Walkers will enjoy spectacular scenery, beautiful river vistas, and abundant wildlife along the trail. Those looking for scenic 10km sections to experience the beauty of the park have six different locations, with accompanying IVV credit to enjoy. We offer many ways to enjoy the C&O Canal Towpath experience. The walk events vary from 10 km to 300km, and the bike events vary from 13 km to 300 km. Either type can be one-way or out-and-back (round trip). For a small fee, you can download, from the OLSB, trail directions for specific start and finish points, and to turnaround points (for the out-and-back segments). The start, finish and turnaround points for the bike events are entirely up to you to decide (although you are welcome to use the same trail directions as the walks).

Event 747: 11K Out and back from Carderock to Great Falls features beautiful river vistas, Olmsted Island, 6 locks, the famous Great falls Tavern and a National Park Service (NPS) visitor's center. 10K out and back from Fletcher's Boat House to Georgetown features 2 locks, Potomac river aqueduct ruins, and the Georgetown NPS Visitors Center with an operational canal boat (small charge). Segment 1, 17K, from Georgetown to Carderock features the Georgetown Visitor's center, 14 locks, and an operational canal boat (in season). Segment 2, 19K, from Carderock to Seneca Aqueduct features Great Falls Tavern, 10 locks and Seneca Creek Aqueduct. Segment 3, 21K, from Seneca to Whites Ferry features the last active ferry on the Potomac and the Seneca Aqueduct. Segment 4, 14K, from Whites Ferry to Nolands Ferry features the spectacular seven arch, 560 foot Monocacy Aqueduct. All segments feature abundant wildlife and wonderful scenery.

Event 748: 10K Out and Back from Lock 38 to the Antietam Creek Aqueduct features beautiful river vistas, lock 38, view the Shepherdstown bluffs and Packhorse Ford. Segment 5, 17K, from Noland's Ferry to Brunswick features a view of Furnace Mountain and, with a brief detour across the pivot bridge, the Victorian train station in Point of Rocks. Segment 6, 16K, from Brunswick to Dargan Bend features a gap through South Mountain ridge (the divide between Maryland's Frederick and Washington counties), 6 locks, and the opportunity for short detour into historic Harpers Ferry. Segment 7, 13K, from Dargan Bend to Lock 38 features the Antietam Creek Aqueduct. Segment 8, 20K, from Lock 38 to Big Slackwater features cliffs with caves, and Dam 4. All segments feature abundant wildlife and wonderful scenery.

Event 749: 10K Out and Back from Fort Frederick (State Park) features the elegantly restored stone walls of Fort Frederick and the Big Pool canal area. Segment 9, 25K, from Dam 4 to Williamsport features cliffs and caves along Big Slackwater, McMahon's Mill and the Visitor's Center in Williamsport. Segment 10, 20K, from Williamsport to Fort Frederick features the National Park Service visitor's Center in Williamsport, Conococheague Aqueduct, Dam 5, and the handsome Fort Frederick. Segment 11, 19K, from Fort Frederick to Hancock features Fort Frederick, Big Pool, and Licking Creek Aqueduct. Segment 12, 27K, from Hancock to Little Orleans features interesting rock faces and beautiful views as the canal enters "The Endless Mountains". All segments feature abundant wildlife and wonderful scenery.

Event 753: 10K out and back from Paw Paw features the remarkable Paw Paw canal tunnel. Almost a mile long, this engineering marvel is well worth seeing. Bring a flashlight. 10K out and back from Little Orleans features the 15 Mile Creek Aqueduct. Segment 13, 24K, from Little Orleans to Paw Paw features interesting scenery as the tow path runs beside Green Ridge State Forest and passes through the Paw Paw tunnel. Segment 14, 17K, from Paw Paw to Oldtown features Town Creek Aqueduct, and a nicely restored lock and lock house at Oldtown. Possible short side trips include the Potomac Forks at mile 164.8 and the low water toll bridge in Oldtown. Segment 15, 14K, from Oldtown to North Branch features 5 locks and some interesting vistas. Segment 16, 15K, from North Branch to Cumberland features the Evitts Creek Aqueduct and the canal terminus at Cumberland with its full size canal boat, the historic Western Maryland Railroad Station, and the excellent Park Service Visitor's Center. All segments feature abundant wildlife and wonderful scenery.

Bike Event 699: You pick your distance (13k minimum to 300k) and your start/finish points accessible from Interstate Highways I495, I270, I70 and I68. The C&O Canal National Historical Park winds its way 184.5 miles from Georgetown in Washington, DC to Cumberland in beautiful western Maryland. The trail, a well-kept towpath nestled between the Potomac River and the canal, is a journey through history with 74 lift locks, restored lock houses, aqueducts, and the amazing mile-long Paw Paw tunnel. Bicyclists will enjoy spectacular scenery, beautiful river vistas, and abundant wildlife along the trail. The surface of the towpath is for the most part an even hard packed dirt trail with a 2A rating. The paved 22 mile Western Maryland Rail trail which parallels the canal may also be ridden as an option on this event. The towpath can be very muddy following heavy rain. There are 30 hiker / biker campsites along the trail available free on a first come basis for those interested in the longer distances. Go to www.nps.gov/choh/index.htm for more park information.

Trail Rating: All segments are rated 1B and are on mostly flat, natural surfaces along the towpath may have a rough surface due to erosion caused by wet weather but these are far and few between as the NPS does a good job maintaining the towpath. Strollers may have difficulty in places. Wheelchair users should contact the POC for segment specific information.

Start/Finish Times/Conditions: The towpath is accessible every day of the year. Only during periods of flooding and heavy snowfall would access be restricted. If in doubt, call the National Park Service (NPS) for park opening information. You may walk on the towpath only from dawn to dusk. Camping is available in designated areas; get info from the NPS. Leave yourself enough time to complete your walk before dusk. Pets must be leashed. Please clean up after them. The towpath is a trash-free park where you must carry out your refuse.

Transportation: Everyone is responsible for arranging their own transportation. It is best to walk the more remote segments with another individual or a group as you may be far from help if you need assistance.

Refreshments: You must carry sufficient food and water to last throughout your walk. There are scattered locations where food and drink are available but their opening is seasonal so you should not rely on them. Water pumps are not available in hiker-biker camps between October and April. Do not rely on them for water.

Sanctioning: These events are sponsored by the Maryland Volkssport Association (MVA) and sanctioned by the American Volkssport Association (AVA), a member of the International Federation of Popular Sports. Event numbers are YRE 2016/747, 748, 749, 753 and the bike event is 699.

Eligibility: Everyone is eligible to participate. An adult must accompany children under 12 at all times on the trails.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to make these walks safe and enjoyable. AVA, MVA and the National Park Service shall not be held responsible for lost or stolen items, accidents, or injuries at any time. If you are walking one of the remote segments, please remember to leave an itinerary with a close friend or relative in case of emergency.

Registration Procedures

These events are available every day of the year via the AVA On-Line Start Box (OLSB), accessible at On Line Start Box.

EVENTS: Segments are always one-way walks. Out and back walks are listed last.

Walk 1 - YRE 2017/747 Segment 1 Georgetown to Carderock - 17KM
Segment 2 Carderock to Seneca Aqueduct - 19KM
Segment 3 Seneca to Whites Ferry - 21 KM
Segment 4 Whites Ferry to Nolands Ferry - 14KM
Out and Back 11KM - Round trip from Carderock
Out and Back 10KM - Round trip from Fletcher's Boat House
Walk 2 - YRE 2017/748
Segment 5 Nolands Ferry to Brunswick - 17KM
Segment 6 Brunswick to Dargan Bend - 16KM
Segment 7 Dargan Bend to Lock 38 - 13 KM
Segment 8 Lock 38 to Dam 4 - 20KM
Out and Back 10KM - Round trip from Lock 38
Walk 3 - YRE 2017/749
Segment 9 Dam 4 to Williamsport - 25KM
Segment 10 Williamsport to Ft Frederick - 20KM
Segment 11 Ft Frederick to Hancock - 19KM
Segment 12 Hancock to Little Orleans - 27KM
Out and Back 10KM - Round trip from Ft Frederick
Walk 4 - YRE 2017/753
Segment 13 Little Orleans to Paw Paw - 24KM
Segment 14 Paw Paw to Oldtown - 17 KM
Segment 15 Oldtown to North Branch - 14KM
Segment 16 North Branch to Cumberland - 15KM
Out and Back 10KM - Round trip from Paw Paw
(includes Paw Paw Tunnel)
Out and Back 10KM - Round trip from Little Orleans
Bike Event – YRE 2017/699
Bike any portion of the trail from at least 13 km to the entire 300 km (184.5 miles).

A number of good guides to the C&O Canal’s history, structures and amenities are available including Towpath Guide to the C&O Canal, and The C&O Canal Companion. Books are available for purchase in all of the C&O Canal NHPS Visitor Centers.

The C&O Canal "is a place of retreat, a long stretch of quiet and peace ..."
Justice William O. Douglas, 1954

The C&O Canal Association has posted a comprehensive list of C&O canal access points with MAPs and GPS coordinates at candocanal.org. This site also offers a great deal of information on canal history, news and activities.

The National Park Service site also list much information on trail condition and activities along the towpath.