Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

A Williamsport Welcome to the C & O Canal Towpath

March 16, 2009, 8:41 am

Drive up to Williamsport and you can enjoy all the nature and history of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park without the crowds closer to Washington. The towpath winds and bends for 184 miles from Rock Creek in Washington to Cumberland, MD.

For a great place to take a bike ride, hike, jog or picnic while learning some history, drive up to the park's Williamsport Visitor Center, about half way up the towpath. A big parking lot and restrooms greet you. The center originally served as the Cushwa Brick Factory and found a second use as a visitor center, just as the canal, originally built for mule drawn barges (because the Potomac River, which it parallels, was too hazardous for boats), earned a new lease on life as a national park.

Inside the visitor center, you'll find a few short movies about the canal's history and some artifacts from the building's and park's heritage.

If you traverse along the canal on two wheels, you'll need a mountain bike or hybrid as the ride can get bumpy -- remember the path was designed for burros. Motorized vehicles remain taboo.