C&O Canal Towpath
Walking west toward Cumberland on the C&O Canal Towpath.
184.5 miles of adventure from Georgetown to Cumberland, Maryland!
It was originally built for the canal mules to walk beside the canal as they “towed” the canal boats through the waterway. Today, it is a popular recreational trail.
Preserving America’s early transportation history, the C&O Canal began as a dream of passage to Western wealth. Operating for nearly 100 years the canal was a lifeline for communities along the Potomac River as coal, lumber, and agricultural products floated down the waterway to market. Today it endures as a pathway for discovering historical, natural, and recreational treasures.
In the 19th and early 20th century, the C&O Canal provided jobs and opportunities for people throughout the Potomac River Valley, from the tidal basin in Washington D.C. to the mountains of Western Maryland.
In a little less than one hundred years, the C&O Canal witnessed a race west by transportation giants, the growth and decline of communities and businesses along the banks of the Potomac River, fierce battles raging between a divided nation, and improvements in technology that made life along the canal obsolete.
Today the remains of the C&O Canal provide a place to enjoy nature and recreation, but most importantly they tell the story of the canal’s important role in America’s history. Stories of western expansion, transportation, engineering, the Civil War, immigration, industry and commerce.