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C & O Canal Towpath Trail

They say the C & O Canal Towpath trail is 184.5 miles long. It felt a lot more like 185 miles to me!!

trail beside historic canal

C & O Canal Trail

I’m only partially joking. You see, I had already biked most of the Great Allegheny Passage Trail in Pennsylvania before I even got started on the C & O trail. And boy was I sore. You might assume that my legs needed assistance, but I assure you that the trail became assiduously tiring and my assorted aches and pains were mostly centered around… Well you get the point.

Most people start their ride on the C  & O trail somewhere near Thompson’s Boat House in the Washington D.C./Georgetown area. However, since I was coming from Pennsylvania, I began my C &  O adventure in Cumberland, Maryland.Tired or not, I was incredibly impressed by all that the C & O Trail had to offer. It goes without saying, that the trail is beautiful, and it was even more so because the fall leaves were just starting to blush with their autumn colors.

But there was much more than just outward beauty to be found along the trail. There was an abundance of history and historical markers. There were friendly people, plenty of diversionary side paths, and an incredible diversity of terrain. From beginning to end, riders will experience the wilderness feeling of a national park to the urban refinement of Georgetown. And, as you can see by some of the pictures, there was also a surprising array of wildlife along the trail.

I was even pleased by the bike shops I encountered on my travels. C & O Bicycles in Hancock, Maryland serves both the C & O Canal Towpath and the Western Maryland Rail Trail. I was able to replenish both my biking supplies (ie. replacing a tire pump I had lost along the trail the night before) and my food supplies. They had a fully stocked general store that included everything from Power Bars to some of the best apples I’ve ever eaten.

Trail Map

Suggested Lodging

Suggested Dining

Smoketown Brewery (See comments below.) -
Potomac Street Grill -

Suggested Bike Rental / Repair

Three Points Cycle in Brunswick, MD

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  1. trailsnet

    This was just submitted to me in email form:
    My 10 y/o son and I just completed the canal from Cumberland to DC. we lost our journal at horsepenn Branch on the morning of Saturday May 23rd. we went back for it within the hour but did not find it. If you have any ability to help us get the word out we would be forever grateful. It iis a small wire bound black book with a trail map and many pages of notes about our trip. the first page has % grade calculation. Please contact me if you have any sugggestions. Thank you very much.

  2. Kathy

    I would like to add there is a great new microbrewery just steps from mile marker 55, Smoketown Brewing Station. Open Thursdays-Sundays we offer 6-10 handcrafted brews, great conversation about the history of Brunswick and a fun place to hang out.

    1. trailsnet

      That sounds great Kathy. Do you serve food @ Smoketown? A cold beer & warm meal is always great after a long day on the trail.

      1. Kathy

        We are working on serving a light fare, but currently have food trucks on rotation. This offers the town and visitors a great variety. We also have bike racks directly across the street!

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