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C&O Canal Towpath

Hugging the north bank of the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. to Cumberland, the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal operated from 1831 to 1924 to transport coal from the Allegheny Mountains. In 1954, U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas led an eight-day hike along the C&O Canal Towpath to try and save it from being transformed into a parkway. His success saw the former canal designated as the Chesapeake & Ohio National Historic Park in 1971.

With much of the canal now reclaimed by the forest, its 184.5-mile towpath has become a popular hiking and cycling route, with clay and crushed stone making it ideal for hybrid bikes. We offer a 5-day bike tour on the C&O Canal Towpath and several C&O GAP combination trips. Occasional potholes, rocks, and mud can be expected in some sections but conditions are improving dramatically as a major trail resurfacing project is currently underway.

The C&O Canal Towpath descends around 600 feet from Cumberland to Georgetown in Washington, D.C., with the gradual change in elevation almost indiscernible. This makes the “Grand Old Ditch” (as it’s affectionately known) ideal for any cyclist, particularly those who aren’t keen on hilly terrain. The C&O Canal also connects with the Great Allegheny Passage for cyclists wanting a longer adventure.

C&O Canal Bike Tours

  • C&O Canal Towpath – 5 Day


    On a scale of 1 (least dificult) to 5 (most difficult) this trail is a 2.


    $915 pp trip + shuttle
    $1,180 pp

    No return shuttle, discount $295 from total price.
    Solo and Groups, see Pricing tab.


    Short Week

    Ave. Distance:

    30-50 miles/day

    View Trip >