C & O Canal Towpath Trail is a 47.9 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Washington, District of Columbia that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.
From Georgetown to Calico Rocks Campground, this 48 miles is the first of four sections on the C & O Canal Towpath trail This portion of the C & O Canal Towpath trail runs from Georgetown, near Washington D.C., to Point of Rocks, Maryland. Whether you are riding/hiking out and back or plan to go the distance on the C & O Canal, you will find plenty of camping, scenery, and wildlife in this first 50 mile stretch of trail. There are 30 hiker/biker campgrounds located along the entire length of the trail with eight in this section alone. These campgrounds are free on a first-come-first-served basis. Water is available at most of the campgrounds and dispensed with a good ol' fashioned hand pump. Lodging is also available at Cabin Quarters; these are restored versions of the original lockhouses that were used to house canal employees. Information about these Canal Quarters is available online at the link provided with this guide. There are not many hotels available near the trail, but one of the great experiences of the trail is to cross the ferry near Leesburg if you want to stay in a hotel in Virginia for this portion of the trip. You will find an abundance of historical charm along this trail from the shops in Georgetown to the locks along the canal. You may also take historic barge rides along portions of the canal in either Georgetown or near the Great Falls (Tavern) area. These tours are available through the National Park Service from mid-April until the end of October and are quite inexpensive and fun. Another major attraction along this trail is the Great Falls area. There is a beautiful, short hike out to the viewing area. Depending on the time of year, you may see a beautiful series of cascades along the river or a stunning, raging torrent. This trail has something for all levels of bikers/hikers. You have the option of traveling just a couple miles to see the sites of Georgetown and Washington D.C., 4.7 miles to the Maryland State Line, 14 miles to the Great Falls Overlook, 185 miles to explore the entire C & O trail, or 320 miles if you connect the C & O with the Great Allegheny Passage trail. Hopefully you enjoy at least a portion of this great trail now; you can always do the rest later. It's well worth it.
The amount of elevation gain may surprise you if you are expecting level all the way. But it was a nice ride.
Beautiful rail trail. There were several others on bikes.
The wife and I biked 15 miles North from Great Falls, which made the whole ride 30 miles. Pretty flat trail which didn't provide any time to coast. This intensified the workout because we were initially only going to ride 10 miles North, but because it was so flat we pushed it an additional 5 miles. The scenery was nice; trees, river, creek. Your typical hiking environment. But, I would prefer more visual stimulation. We'll try the section starting from Cumberland next time.