C&O Canal-Cumberland to North Branch is a 9.2 mile point-to-point trail located near Cumberland, Maryland and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, horses, and mountain biking and is best used from March until May. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.
The "end" of the 184-mile national park. This the "last" section of the C&O Canal is a well maintained and smooth section passing back yards and open fields and it finally comes into Cumberland. Development has left little evidence of the canal's working past aside from a few "stop locks", spillways and the canal itself. Like much of the towpath, the trail is almost perfectly flat. Lift Lock 75, the last on the canal, is right next to the North Branch Recreation Area and is the last significant change in elevation untill you get to Cumberland where a wooden walkway and ramps take you over the canal and into town. The Evitts Creek Hiker-Biker campsite (N39 36.999 W78 43.954) is probably one of the worst to stay at if you want to get any sleep. It sits right beside a major railyard and the sounds of train cars squeeling and banging are not welcome neighbors. Stay here only if you can sleep through the cacophanous racket.
I was only able to hike about 2 miles down from Cumberland. The path seems more suited to running and biking. It is pretty. I am far more interested in the kayaking possibilities, but was surprised to see no one on the river and little information available at the outfitter in Cumberland.
Some friends and I actually picked up the canal just over the Ohio line and hiked the towpath all the way to DC. we all had a great time there was times when we would. Along the trail and other times we really had the home to make up for lost time and bad weather. all in all it took us about two weeks plus or minus a few days to make the entire trip and we are planning on doing it again in the near future with our children.
I lived in Cumberland, MD for 2 years. I did several out and backs on the trail, as it this is the starting point. Enjoyed the museum. I biked a few times on it, and sometimes parked closer to some of the more interesting spots, as I got tired of seeing the same 4-5 miles before turning around. On a visit to Harper's Ferry, saw a very cool section. I am interested in running the Ultra Marathon one day.