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Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park is a park primarily in Maryland, but also in the District of Columbia and West Virginia, that preserves the C&O Canal along the Potomac River.  The park runs from Georgetown in DC to Cumberland, Maryland.  The towpath following the canal is 184.5 miles long.  The park was established in 1961 to preserve the remains of the canal.  In 1971, it became a National Historic Park.

Contact Information:

1850 Dual Highway, Suite 100
Hagerstown, MD 21740-6620

Phone: 301-739-4200

Fax: 301-739-5275


As the park spans nearly 200 miles across Maryland, there are numerous entrances and access points to the park and canal.  Directions to entrances that I've visited are listed below.

Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center:

The Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center is located just 15 miles outside Washington, DC.  In addition to the visitor center, this area provides access to Olmsted Island and views of Great Falls of the Potomac as well as the popular Billy Goat Trail.  From I-495 outside Washington, take exit 41 (Clara Barton Parkway) and follow to the end.  Turn left on MacArthur Boulevard and drive approximately 3.5 miles to the park.  Note that there is a $5 admission fee for parking here.

Points of Interest:

Great Falls of the Potomac:

Great Falls of the Potomac is 76-foot waterfall on the Potomac River at the fall line.  From the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center parking area, get on the C&O Canal Towpath heading south past the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center.  In less than a half-mile, right after passing Lock 18, turn right on Olmsted Island Bridges trail and and go about a quarter-mile to the overlook at the end.  There are great panoramic views of the falls and Potomac River from here.


External Links:

National Park Service website: http://www.nps.gov/choh/index.htm

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