45 Bikes & Hikes: C&O Canal Towpath

The Canal Less Traveled
C&O Canal Towpath

Distance: 16 miles round-trip.

Photograph by Andrew Propp.

Suggested route: Poolesville to White’s Ferry and back.

The 185-mile C&O Canal towpath stretches from Georgetown to
Cumberland, Maryland. In and around DC and up as far as Great Falls, the
crushed-stone-and-dirt path is often packed on weekends with cyclists,
pedestrians, and dog walkers. If you don’t want to be yelling “On your
left!” the whole time, you need only venture north to Poolesville in
Montgomery County, where you can find quiet stretches of cycling bliss.
Start at the McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area off of River Road for
a nine-mile ride to White’s Ferry. That part of the trail offers lots of
woods and views of the Potomac. Make it harder: Some hardcore cyclists
ride the C&O towpath from Georgetown to White’s Ferry, cross into
Virginia on the ferry, then link up with the W&OD heading back to DC,
for a loop ride of some 65 miles. For more, visit the National Park Service website.

See the Trail