C&O Canal Trail: Point of Rocks to Monocacy Aqueduct

easy 72 reviews

C&O Canal Trail: Point of Rocks to Monocacy Aqueduct is a 12.8 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Point of Rocks, Maryland that features a river and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 12.8 miles Elevation Gain: 262 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

kid friendly



horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips


bird watching



partially paved



wild flowers



historic site

The town of Point of Rocks consists of little more than a three-block stretch of street running parallel to the canal and railroad tracks. It's worth a brief visit to the Victorian train station, and has a small country store for stocking up prior to or after, heading out. Calico Rocks campsite is named for the composite rocks of this region - a mix of multicolored pebbles held together by a natural cement of limestone, referred to as "Potomac Marble." Nolands Ferry was an important crossing point for settlers following the old Indian trail and wagon road and dates back to 1742. The 7 arches spanning the 560 ft Monocacy Aqueduct was once the jewel of the canal. It's now reinforced with steel beems, and struggles against the current and loose soil.

We crossed by the train tunnel and went up the mountain. Take the path by the bridge. Ensure you have hiking boots!!!!

mountain biking
6 months ago

Shaded and good terrain for a relaxing bike ride. The path had some mud but nothing bad enough to worry about. Point of rock parking area is huge. Nice clean restrooms.

Sat Aug 25 2018

Very nice easy trail. The train came by twice and tooted its whistle! Bikers campers and runners all passed us by as we strolled our way by the river.

Sun Aug 19 2018

Great hike. Nice views of the river. A lot of bugs.

Sun Jul 08 2018

The climb up to the overlook hidden behind the graffiti covered bridge abutment was steep and overgrown in most spots but the view once at the top made it worth while. Be careful crossing the train tracks, they are active and heavily used.

Tue May 22 2018

Hiked this trail last week, before the rains. I found it moderately challenging due to distance and timeline. The scenery was okay to view. I totally agree with other readers comments that this is an excellent biking trail. It is on my go to list when needing a change of scenery from Sugarloaf Mountain Trails and Gambrill State Park Trails.

horseback riding
Sun Apr 01 2018

Easy trailer parking, nice and flat for horses. Everyone we passed was friendly and respectful of the horses. Trains can be VERY loud, so make sure your horse is somewhat bombproof!

Sun Oct 29 2017

Great walk with dogs! Loved it!

mountain biking
Sat Oct 14 2017

Not really a mountain bike trail (not sure why there isn’t a option for biking) But me and the scouts went the whole way and it was great.

Wed Aug 09 2017

A nice walk in the woods, but with little of interest for hikers until you reach the aqueduct. The trail is far better suited for biking.

Sat May 06 2017

easy flat trail with lots of shade and decent view of the river

Sun Apr 02 2017

Short and steep, views are worth every bit of it.

Sun Feb 19 2017

I did the quick scramble up the mtn for amazing views

Sun Nov 13 2016

Very nice jaunt on a warm November afternoon. Fall colors still around. I followed the directions to scrabble up the hill overlooking the bridge - very pretty views. 3 or 4 trains came by for a little interest. Nice spot!

Mon Nov 07 2016

Going up to the rock overlook (called "The Point") above the Potomac River bridge is a short, steep hike, but doable by most average hikers. The really steep part is a few 100 feet long, so not too bad. I went up with my wife, two 12 year old boys, and two dogs. Coming down is a bit more challenging if you don't have on good hiking boots because you tend to slip on the steep, loose trail. To reach the trailhead, go north from the Point of Rocks parking lot on the towpath till you're under the car bridge, and then turn right to walk through the old canal over to the railroad tracks. The tracks are very active and 3 trains came by while we were there. Once you cross the tracks, just look for the graffiti on the concrete bridgeworks and there's the trailhead going uphill to your left. It's about 25 yards in front of the train tunnel. Once up top, the view is spectacular of Virginia, Maryland, and the river. Then the trail peters out quickly into the woods, so just turn and come back down the same way you went up. Can't beat the views on this hike!

Tue Oct 18 2016

Awesome view once you reach the top. For a shorter hike you can park at the boat ramp and walk up the trail by the Parking lot, then cross the train tracks under the bridge. It's extremely steep for the first couple hundred feet but after that it's a steady incline

Sun Sep 04 2016

Easy straight walk

Thu Jul 14 2016

Definitely worth the drive!!!

Mon Apr 18 2016

Great for a walk with the dog. It's flat and has a canopy of trees covering the whole walk. This is not a difficult walk at all.

Sun Oct 25 2015

Found the ultra secret local trail to the lookout point on the rocks. Cross tracks under the bridge from the C & O trail parking lot and you will see a path that goes straight up at the base of the bridge. Pretty steep climb so not for everyone. But the view is awesome and worth it.

Sun Aug 02 2015

There is not a defined trail to the top of the rocks. Park at the C&O Canal parking lot. Walk over to US 15, cross the road and start climbing upwards. Use a GPS to guide you to the top. At the top, there's a hint of a trail. Follow it towards the east to the overlook.

Mon Jun 01 2015

This trail was very flat, which makes doing the 12.5 mile walk manageable. I think I would have enjoyed this trail a lot more as a leisurely bike ride, rather than walking. Might be good for someone with children as an easy beginning hike, though I wouldn't recommend dragging them the entire 6.25 miles out to the bridge and back. There are other places to intercept the trail a little closer to the bridge if you're more interested in the destination than the journey.

Fri May 22 2015

I'm a local here and travel this trail very often. Have to go over the train tracks at the bridge and have to get very close to the road. But a short steep hike that shows a very nice view of the Potomac. We refer to it as THE POINT.

Sat Aug 17 2013

The trail is not marked and requires that you cross a set of active train tracks. However, worth the trip. A short but steep climb leaves you on a set of two rock outcrops with a great view of the Potomac just above and to the north of the RT15 Point of Rocks bridge that connects MD with VA. There was no one else on the trail the day we hiked (beautiful, cool Saturday morning. The connecting B&O canal trail leads you to the trailhead just north of the bridge on the right. The trail is found at the base of the bridge structure.

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