Historical Significance · River/Creek
These 2+ miles on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath
are an easy run with a handful of notable features including bridges, locks, lock houses, and of course is adjacent to the Potomac River providing frequent nice vistas across the water.
Need to Know
Parking at Dam #5 has a rough steep entrance.
If you intend to use the parking lot at the start and do not have a vehicle that excels at offroading, I would advise stopping to assess the steep rutted hill so you can choose where you'll bottom out on the way in. I watched a minivan make it out of the parking lot on the third attempt, so perhaps I'm being overly cautious!
Across the bridge from the trailhead is dam #5 behind which sits the little slack water in which boats would navigate to shorten the amount of canal which needed to be cut. The C&O trail continues south across the bridge and north on the same side of the canal as the parking lot.
Heading north the trail is wide and regular, the Potomac glimmers between the trees with the occasional vista opening up.
The first half a mile is covered and easy, the most interesting section of the trail IMO is just before lock 45 in the little slack water where the trail become paved concrete that wraps alongside a cliff with no handrail between you and the Potomac several feet below.
Lock 45 is just down the trail but rather overgrown and less interesting than lock 46 around the bend. Lock 46 features a lock house and large ruins of an old bridge that spanned the flume and canal. There are plenty of places to sit in the shade or lie down in the sun.
The trail continues almost a mile until 4 Locks begins with lock 47 and in a staccato fashion 48, 49 and 50 follow suit. There is a lot to observe at these sites and each lock has its own unique features. I particularly love the road that goes under the canal between lock 48 and 49!
Shared By: Anthony Lambruschi