Main C and O Page

Biking the C and O Canal Towpath

(This information was received from the C and O Canal Headquarters in Sharpsburg on February 17, 1995.)

Bicycle riding is only permitted on the canal towpath, not on park trails. The surface of the towpath varies from excellent to rough due to tree roots, rocks, chuckholes, and weather conditions. Avoid using the towpath for at least two days after heavy rainstorms.

Helmet laws are in effect in Montgomery County, MD. For a bicycle safety handbook, contact the :

Maryland Department of Transportation
Bicycle Affairs Coordinator
State Highway Administration
P.O. Box 717
Baltimore, MD 21203
or call 1-800-252-8776;301-333-1663.

Bicyclists should carry tools and materials for repairing broken chains, flat tires, and broken spokes. The listing below indicates where bicycle rental, repair and supply shops may be found.


Mile                                               
    0.0  Big Wheel Bikes, MTN Bike rentals - 1 day REPAIR service,
parts, accessories - OPEN SUNDAY, HRS 10-8 (Daylight  Savings ON) 
Winter HRS 10-6 Tue-Sun (Daylight Savings OFF) 1034 33rd Street NW,
Wash., DC  (between M Street and Towpath) 202-337-0254

    0.0  Jacks Boats, Bike rentals, 3500 K Street NW, Wash., DC
(info not available) 202-337-9642

    0.5  Thompson's Boat Ct, Bike Rentals, Rock Creek Pkwy &
Virginia Avenue NW, Wash., DC (info not available) 202-333-4861

    3.1  Fletcher's Boat Ctr, Bike rentals, 4940 Canal Road NW,
Wash., DC (info not available) 202-244-0461
   
   16.6  Swains Lock, Bike Rentals, OPEN SUNDAY, HRS 10-6 (7 DAYS
WEEK) Exit 39 off Capital Beltway to River Rd (MD190)2 mi
pastPotomac/Left on Swains Lock Rd.  301-299-9006

   35.5  White's Ferry, Bike rentals, 6 mi from Poolesville on
Whites Ferry Rd (MD 107) (info not available) 301-349-5200

   55   C&O Canal Bicycling, Bike rentals,  will deliver bikes to people
at Weverton or in Brunswick. 301-834-5180 phone and fax

C&O Canal Bicycling will also have at the J&J Antique Center in downtown
Brunswick (right next to the new National Park Service C&O Canal Museum)  
Rentals/limited supplies available beginning April 15, 2000.


   72.8  O'Hurley's Gen Store, Bike rentals, Apr-Nov  HRS t-Sat
10-7 Sun 12-6 (Mon 10-5 Mem. Day thru Labor Day) 205 E Washington
Street, Shepherdstown, WV 25443 (seasonal)  304-876-6907

O'Hurley's Website

   80.0 Taylor's Landing - There is is shop there that rents bikes.

   99.8  Potomac Pushbikes, MTN Bike Rentals,  REPAIR service,
Parts, Accessories, HRS 9-6 M-TH, 9-8 F, 9-3 Sat, 2 blocks from
towpath  - 11 East Potomac Street, Williamsport, MD 21795       
301-582-4747 
 
  124.0  Path Finders - Bike Rentals.  6 South Pennsylvania Avenue,
Hancock, MD.

 184.0  Allegheny Bike Works, Bike rentals, REPAIR service, Parts,
Accessories / HRS MTHR 10-6, WF 10-8, Sat 10-5  Winter hrs (Jan-Mid
Mar) M-F 12-6pm  Sat 10-5pm (6 mi from towpath/call for pickup)
301-729-9708

Detour for Bike Riders!!

Avoid the towpath between Dam 4 (Mile 84.5) and Charles/McMahons Mill (Mile 88.5). The towpath becomes a hazardous trail for anyone with more than just hiking boots. There are briars, sheer drops to the river and slanted, narrow pathways. It is impossible to ride through these areas and you would find it necessary to carry your bike and at times hand it up or down a drop to another person. Even though this route may look shorter...the time could be 45 minutes to an hour with help. The detour is about 20 minutes to 1/2 hour on bicycle (about 4 1/2 miles).

NORTHBOUND,the warning signs (heed and beware) are very obvious....take Dam 4 Road to Dellinger Road to Avis Mill Road. The towpathis behind Charles/McMahons Mill. During times of high water, instead ofturning on Avis Mill Road., continue on Dellinger to Neck Road: right on Neck; left on Falling Waters Road to towpath at Mile 94.4.

SOUTHBOUND,the warning sign, may have been removed by "unknown individuals". Because of this problem with keeping a sign at this location, please make sure you are aware of this location. Behind McMahons Mill (Mile 88.1) there is a large open area and then the towpath narrows immediately to a few feet. This is the place to 'bale out' and take thedetour. Go to the front of McMahons Mill to Avis Mill Road to Dellinger Road to Dam 4 Road to the towpath. During times of high water, take Falling Waters Road from Mile 94.4 on towpath. Turn right on Neck and left on Dellinger to Dam 4 Road to towpath.

Bicycle Use Regulations on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

   15 MPH Maximum speed on the towpath     
   Stay to the right except when passing          
   Sound producing devices (bells/horn) required, must be sounded 
    when  approaching within 100 feet  
   Ride single file        
   Yield right-of-way to all pedestrians/horses
   Helmets required in accordance with local county ordinances

TOWPATH ACCESS POINTS CAUTION: Never leave valuables in your vehicle.

0.0 Georgetown From Thompson Boat Center Parking lot on W. Side intersection of VA Ave and Rock Creek and Potomac Pkwy, take service road & sidewalk around the boat center to tide-lock on left at Potomac River . Boat center open 7-5, Tel. 333-4861; canoe and bike rentals.

0.38 Georgetown At 29th St. 1 block S. of M St. Metrobus #30, 32, 34, or 36 (Penn. Ave. Line) to Georgetown and Subway Station Foggy bottom. Street parking and commercialparking garages.

14.3 Great Falls Take Exit 41W off I- 495 (Beltway) to the end of MacArthur Blvd. - $4/Car & $2/Person - Lots of parking area.

17.2 Swains Lock Road River Road (MD190) (Exit 16 of Capital Beltway) 2 m. past Potomac, MD., then left .3m. on Swains Lock Road. Limited parking.

22.8 Seneca Via River Rd. (MD190)(Exit 16 of Capital Beltway) 8.5 m. N.W. Potomac, Md., turn left .4 m. on Rileys Lock Rd. which parallels Seneca Creek on E. side-to parking lot at Lock 24.

25.0 Sycamore Landing River Rd to Sycamore Landing-Parking at Landing.

30.8 Edwards Ferry From Poolesville 4.5 mi., on Edwards Ferry Rd.; 10 mi from Seneca via River, Sheppard, Offutt and Edwards Ferry Rds, the latter of which crosses the canal and leads 100 yds to the old ferry landing, parking area, boat ramp and toilets; no water. Park at Edwards Ferry.

35.5 Whites Ferry From Poolesville 6 mi. W. on Whites Ferry Rd. (Md 107) or from Edwards Ferry (Lock 25) 5.1 mi. on River Rd. Some parking, boat ramp (fee). White Ferry Store carries light food and supplies. Ferry to Va. operates the year around 6am to 11pm. Cars: Fare $2.50 one-way; $4.40 roundtrip.(1995). Pedestrians and cyclists: $.50 each way. Whites Ferry has been in operation close to 150 years. Canoes and bikes for rent. tel. 301- 349-5200. Winter hours 6am to 8pm.

39.37 Lock 26 (Woods Lock) From MD 28 1.1 mile S of Dickerson take Martinsburg Rd. .2 mi., then take dirt rd. .3 mi. to parking lot.

42.2 Monocacy River From Dickerson (where supplies and prepared food are available at the Dickerson Market) take Md. 28 .3 mi. N. of RR overpass, turn left on Mouth of Monocacy Rd. go 1.2 mi. to fork. Take the left fork .1 mi. to the parking lot. Phone, toilets, boat ramps; no water. Road continues along the picnic area and under the (downstream) arch of the aqueduct. Park at Aqueduct (Left).

44.6 Nolands Ferry About 4 mi. E. of Point of Rocks take either Water Plant or Nolands Ferry Rd. .8 mi. to canal and parking lot or Rt. 28 to New Design road to Boat Ramp.

47.6 Point of Rocks Rts.15 and 28, at W. end of town at Point of Rocks take last road before US 15 bridge, go toward the canal and cross RR tracks . Road continues .18 mi. to boat ramp under US 15 bridge where it meets the narrow towpath. Go over vehicle bridqe to Parkinq area.

49.9 Brunswick From Point of Rocks take U.S. 15 N. 1 mi. to Md. 464, then turn W. toward Brunswick for 2.8 mi. to Lander Rd. then take S. (left) toward the river and go 1.5 mi. to Lander. Parking in Old Train Station Parking Lot. Cross RR tracks to the canal. Limited parking at the boat ramp.

55.0 Brunswick From the center of Brunswick (Potomac & Maple) go S. across the RR tracks, then turn right 1 block to the lock. The rd across the canal at the head of Lock 31 leads to the boat ramp and to Brunswick Park. Groceries in town and restaurants. Canal guides and other publications and RR items are available from the Potomac Foundation on W. Potomac Street. The museum is open Fri. and Sat. 10-5, in season. Rooms available (male and female) at Brunswick YMCA Tel. (301)834-9151.

Note: Miles from here to 72.9 updated June 1999

60.2: Sandy Hook, MD. Look for left (going from Maryland into Virginia) turn off Route 340 just before crossing the Potomac. (Right turn takes you to River and Trail outfitters.) Once off exit, you will pass Hillside Motel on right and Cindy Dee on left. At top of hill turn right to Sandy Hook. You will soon pass the Youth Hostel on the left. At bottom of hill is Sandy Hook. Some limited parking. Be careful of railroad tracks. Two people were killed by a train here in June of 1999. Some say the trains coming through are very quiet.

60.7: Footbridge to Harpers Ferry, WV - You will need to carry bike up a flight of stairs to get up to the bridge. (No parking by the bridge, but a limited number of spaces further upriver, with a couple of access points to towpath, a footbridge, and a nother access point just before road leaves river and goes uphill towards Sharpsburg.)

69.3 Antietam Creek Campground (Lock 38) just off Harpers Ferry Rd. on Canal Rd. (Go about 3 miles out of Sharpsburg on Harpers Ferry Road which is a left turn at main intersection in town, which is one block past gas station iff going in direction of WV. There is an ice cream place :-) just around the corner on HF Road once you've turned off the main road.)

72.8: from Route 34: turn on Canal Road across highway from C&O Canal Headquarters. There is a red barn on the corner. Follow steep hill down to base of Route 34 bridge. As of summer 1999, one can still park here. However, plans are in the works to close this parking lot down. The bridge to WV is due to be replaced, with a second temporary bridge to be constructed at th e site while repairs or replacement of current bridge is done. No doubt this work will last a LONG time. No one seems to know what kind of access there will be during this time at this spot.

NOTE: The speed limit on the bridge has recently been lowered from 50mph to 20 mph. Shortly after the limit was lowered, signs went up saying that bicycles are banned from the sidewalk. However, the vast majority of cars do not pay any atention to th is new limit. Some cyclists choose to ride on the sidewalks. However, they are in miserable shape. My chosen method of crossing the bridge is to wait until I don't see any cars and then take the full lane. (There are holes along the side of the bridge close to where a bike would be if one were to try to stay to the right.)

76.6 Snyders Landing From MD 34 in Sharpsburg, at stoplight in center of town, turn North on N. Mechanic St. and go 1 block to Snyders Landing Rd, take left 1.6 m. to Snyders Landing Boat Ramp.

80.9 Taylors Landinq (Mercersville) From MD 65 - Turn on Taylors Landing Road from Sharpsburg Hagerstown Rd. Vehicle bridge over canal leads to paved boat ramp.

85.5 Big Slackwater Dam #4 Rd to its end. 5.5 m. South of Downsville. Asphalt parking area for 37 trailer- car rigs and 25 cars. Picnic tables, grills, 2 chemical toilets. 30 feet wide Boat Ramp.

(Note: from September '97 email: "In general, your information was very helpful; however, the information about vehicle access points is incomplete, at least as regarding access points between mileposts 112 and 88. The group I was leading made plans for vehicle logistics based on your information, but it appears that there are several access points between the aforementioned mileposts that are not among those listed on your page."

99-100 - Town of Williamsport - Visitor's Center.

109.0 Four Locks - Boat Ramp - NO CAMPING

110.4 McCoys Ferry From Big Sprinqs-Rt.56 West to McCoys Ferry Rd. At campqround

120.6 Little Pool Off I-70, Park near Tonoloway Aqueduct

124.5 Little Tonoloway Boat Ramp - NO CAMPING

140.9 Fifteen-Mile CreekUp S 40 West, 6 Ms South on Orleans Rd .1 M Up S

156.1 Paw Paw Tunnel NO CAMPING

166.7 Battie-Mixon NO CAMPING

173.3 Sprinq Gap Follow Rt.51 to Sprinq GaP .3 M DnS

181.8 Candoc - Follow Rt. 51 East, Virginia Ave., South to Offut St.

184.5 Western Md Station, Canal Street, Cumberland, MD

To the main C and O Page.


Campground Regulations

**All campsites are on a first-come, first-served basis and no fees are charged. One family or one camping unit is allowed for each site. The park defines a "family" as one head of household and immediate family. A "camping unit"consists of a non-family group of up to six (6) persons. Campsites (except the Marsden tract) may not be reserved in any manner.

**Abandoned or unattended personal property may be impounded.** Campsites and/or camping facilities may not be transferred to another person or group.** When a camper or group leaves the camping area, all equipment must be removed. ** Parking trailers and pitching tents or other equipment are permitted only at designated sites.

** Trailer length in drive-in camps may not exceed 20 feet. All wheeled vehicles, except wheelchairs and bicycles, must stay off the grass.

** As in all park areas, pets at campsites must be on a leash or under other physical control at all times.

** For the comfort of others, quiet is required in campsites between 10pm and 6am.

** Fires are restricted to the grills and fire rings provided or to portable grills positioned off the ground. Coals must be extinguished and removed from the park. Firewood may be collected from dead material on the ground but for use in campsites only. Do not remove wood from the campground.

** Chain saws,lawn mowers, and other portable engines may not be used in the park except by permit.

** For the protection of drinking water, campers may not wash dishes, bathe, or clean fish near wells.

** Draining or dumping refuse or body wastes from a trailer or other vehicle is prohibited.

** Pitching horseshoes is permitted only at designated areas.


Ray Mumford wrote this in my guestbook in December '96:

Comments: You may know this, but I just found out from the latest B&O Railroad Historical Society magazine: Amtrak, starting last September, was supposed to allow passengers to bring bicycles on the Capitol Limited, and board or detrain with them at Harpers Ferry and Cumberland. Bike racks are provided in the new Superliner coach-baggage car. Amtrak has always handled bikes as checked baggage, packed (by the owner) in Amtrak-supplied bike boxes, with pedals removed and the handlebars turned sideways. The problem in the past was that no checked baggage handling was offered except at Washington and Pittsburgh. I guess if you were changing trains you would have to unpack and assemble your bike at one of these two cities. Prior notice is required. You may want to pass this on to the canal bike page.

NOTE: July '97 Press Release regarding this - Unfortunately, this applies to the Cardinal which goes through Staunton, VA and does not go through Cumberland. So, bottom line is you can't take bike to Cumberland, unless you're using a folding bike - and maybe even then it has to be one that fits in a suitcase so it is not considered a bike. :-) See Bike Friday for info on folders that go in suitcases.


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