Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath

Waning Crescent Moon

The C&O Canal Towpath is a national treasure and for it’s time, an engineering marvel.

C&O Canal NPS Link

168 miles of it are also part of the American Discovery Trail. Today I slackpacked the first 14 miles from Georgetown to Great Falls MD. The weather was cool, crisp, and sunny to start, but grew colder and overcast by the afternoon.

Snow is forecast for tonight and tomorrow morning, so this old dude is holing up with super-angels Peter and Marilyn Schoettle in North Bethesda until Saturday morning. Words can’t describe my gratitude!

Georgetown of course is the home of the Hoyas. Hoops fans harken back to their glory days in the 1980s when Patrick Ewing’s teams competed for the NCAA title.

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The towpath soon becomes crushed gravel when you leave the city. If you are lucky you might find this hidey hole like the one in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Boo. Jem. Scout.

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The scenery gets wilder and wilder, with great views of the impressive Potomac River and eventually, the Great Falls themselves. Those are Class VI waters, I am told. If you don’t know what Class VI means, let’s just say that’s kayaking lingo for “you most likely die.”

The water at Little Falls is a bit more more reasonable than at Great Falls. I saw two kayakers practicing at these gates, but I was too slow on the draw to capture any of their ride.

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I had a nice pic-a-nic lunch at Lock 8.

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Every so often there is a lockhouse next to one of the frequent sets of locks formerly used to move barges down the canal system. They are all very nicely preserved.

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Great Falls is definitely the showstopper. These pictures don’t do justice to the power of the water grinding through this narrow section of the Potomac.

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This place is supercool. If you ever come to DC, be sure to visit the canal and take a walk on the towpath.

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Thank you to the knowledgeable and generous Dr. Peter Schoettle and his kind wife Marilyn Schoettle for all their help in getting my hike off to a great start.

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Peace, Love, and Shelter from the Storm,
Palomino

8 thoughts on “Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath

  1. As a former earth science student of yours at San Benito High. I just want to say good luck to you Mr. Ostdick. What you are doing is truly inspirational. To hike across the United States and be able to take in all the scenery is incredibly awesome. Once again, good luck! We will see you on the west coast soon enough.

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  2. So interesting to join you on these roads less travelled in areas I’ve never visited. Coincidentally, today Atlas Obscura posted a story on FB about Hogs Back Lockstation, North America’s oldest canal named after a porcine rock formation (in Ottawa, Canada). Next trip. Appreciate the history lesson and great pics. Send your trail angels our regards from San Juan Bautista! Happy trails.

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  3. This is great fun! You’re doing all the work, but thank you. I look forward to seeing your posts and comments. πŸ™‚

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  4. Nice to chat with you on the C&O canal today at the Monocacy Aqueduct. I look forward to monitoring your progress across the USA. Best Wishes, Grace

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