By Heidi Schlag, C&O Canal Trust
2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the C&O Canal National Historical Park! Whether you prefer to bike miles each weekend, enjoy a leisurely stroll along the river’s edge, drop a line and wait for the big one to bite, or soak up 200 years of history, the C&O Canal has the outdoor recreation adventure for you! Stretching 184.5 miles along the Potomac River from Georgetown in Washington D.C. to Cumberland, Maryland, the C&O Canal hosts over 5 million visitors each year who enjoy its recreational, cultural, historical, and natural resources. Originally built as a transportation route to move goods from western producers to eastern markets, the nearly 200-year-old canal retains historic lockhouses, aqueducts, culverts, and a continuous towpath that links bikers and hikers to the GAP Trail. Explore hiking trails, take a canal boat ride, and find solitude and peace in over 20,000 acres parkland, which also serves as a preserved habitat for hundreds of plant and animal species.
Not a lover of the outdoors? The C&O Canal still has you covered! Your C&O Canal Experience can include a relaxing overnight stay in a fully-appointed lockhouse, hotel, or bed and breakfast. Journey into one of ten unique Canal Towns for dining, shopping, historic architecture, and small town charm. There are also a variety of museums and cultural centers for you to explore as you drive through four Maryland counites on the C&O Canal Byway. Visit www.CanalTrust.org/50th to start planning your trip and for details on events, itineraries, specials, and how you can support the C&O Canal during this special 50th anniversary.