Trail Riding  
  Where to ride in MD

  Trail Etiquette

  Trail Tips

Blogs 

  Fugly Horse of the Day

Humor

  Videos

  E-mail

  Websites

Horse Sales

  Current

  Past

Links

  MD Horse clubs

  Interesting stuff

 

 

 

 

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park, MD
Trail Location: Washington, DC (Georgetown) to Cumberland, MD
Trail Length: 184.5 miles
Counties: Washington, DC; Montgomery, Frederick, Washington & Allegany, MD
Nearby Towns: Washington, DC; Potomac, Frederick, Hagerstown & Cumberland, MD; Harpers Ferry, WV
Activities:Walking, Horseback Riding, Biking, Cross Country Skiing, Mountain Biking, Wheelchair Accessible, Camping,
Fishing
Trail Surface(s):Crushed Stone, Gravel, Dirt
Trail Description:The C&O Canal follows the route of the Potomac River for 184.5 miles from Washington, D.C. to
Cumberland, MD. Hundreds of original structures, including locks, lockhouses and aqueducts, serve as reminders of the
canal's role as a transportation system during the Canal Era. In addition, the canal's towpath provides a nearly level,
continuous trail through the spectacular scenery of the Potomac River Valley.
Every year millions of visitors come to hike or bike the C&O Canal in order to enjoy the natural, cultural and recreational
opportunities that are available here.
The peak season is from May through October. Weekends in the spring and fall are especially busy. Most of the annual
visitation is concentrated in the first 14 miles of the canal -- from Georgetown to Great Falls. Solitude and quiet are easily
found in the upper areas of the canal much of the year.
Parking & Trail Access:Various sections of the canal can be reached via Routes I-495, I-70, and I-68.
Please see a map of the park on the Trail Website or call the park's headquarters at 301-739-4200.
There is an entrance fee at the Great Falls area of the canal. It costs $4.00 per vehicle for a three day pass and $15.00 for
an annual pass. Cyclists and walkers pay $2.00. Golden Age, Golden Eagle, and Golden Access passes are honored.
Commercial vehicle fees are: 1-6 people-$25.00, 7-25 people-$40.00, over 25 people-$100.00.
http://www.nps.gov/choh/
Horseback Riding
Horseback riding is yet another way to enjoy the C&O Canal. Groups must obtain approval in writing for all club rides and
for trips lasting more than one day. Write to Park Superintendent, C&O Canal NHP, P.O. Box 4, Sharpsburg, MD 21782,
and include an itinerary with dates and areas to be covered in order to obtain permission and information on staging and
camping areas. The following regulations apply to all riders in the park:
Horseback riding is not allowed between Georgetown (Mile 0) and Swains Lock (Mile 16.6).
Horseback-riding is not allowed when the towpath is soft due to wetness. Horseback riders may not exceed the speed of
a slow trot.
Riders must dismount and walk their horses across the aqueducts. Horses may not cross narrow, wooden footbridges
which are not designed to carry the concentrated weight of horses. Horses are not allowed to go through the Paw Paw
Tunnel prism or walk its towpath. They must take the Tunnel Hill Trail that goes over the tunnel.
Horses are not allowed in campgrounds, hiker-biker overnighters, picnic areas, or adjacent parking lots. Riders may
camp at hiker-biker campgrounds but must tether horses at least 50 feet from the areas' boundaries for sanitary and
safety reasons and must prevent horses from damaging trees or undergrowth. No trail-rider camping is allowed in the
park’s campgrounds at Antietam Creek, McCoys Ferry, Fifteen Mile Creek, Paw Paw, and Spring Gap.
Horse trailers are not allowed in drive-in camping areas and horses may not be loaded or unloaded in campgrounds or
picnic areas. Groups must carry a loading ramp. Trail riders are responsible for keeping loading and unloading areas
clean. Manure must be picked up and hauled away.
Vehicles and/or horse trailers must not block park roadways or emergency gates.
No grazing is permitted in the park. Bring in feed for horses.
Do not water, clean, or tether horses near park wells.

 

Where to Park!
1.  Whites Ferry - Take your favorite route to Poolesville, Md and then take Whites Ferry Rd East out of town.  Just before you get to the Ferry there is a parking lot on the right hand side of the road.  From here you can ride the path in either direction. If you go north far enough you get to where the Monocacy river flows into the Potomac River.  At this point you have three choices, A) turn around,  B) ride your horse over the Monocacy using the aqueduct (some people consider this unsafe for horses), C) Ride down to the boat ramp or other suitable point and ride/swim (depending on the time of year) your horse across the Monocacy (beware there have been some reports of deep mud and/or quicksand in this area) Riders ride at their own risk. 
 
2.  There is LIMITED parking suitable for horse trailers at the boat ramp at the end of Mouth of Monocacy road.  take Route 28 and, just before Dickerson, take a right onto Mouth of Monocacy road.  Reportedly, that road goes all the way to the canal and may be at the aqueducts and power plant. Get there early or be very comfortable in jockeying your trailer around.  You can easily ride south from there.  If you want to ride north from there, please see comments above about getting across the Monocacy. 
 
3.  On the weekends there is ample parking for trailers in the MARC lot at Point of Rocks.  FYI - your horse must cross the train tracks to get to the canal and as far as I know  (I never found another route) you must ride beside the tracks for a short distance (~1/4 mile) to ge to the canal path. 
 
4. You would take Route 28 through Dickerson (marked by one train overpass and a small gas station/convenience store on the left side) and,after you drive through Dickerson take a right at the flashing yellow light onto Martinsburg Road.  Stay on Martinsburg, bear right when it forks at Wasche Road and the entrance to a parking lot is before the one car bridge on the right.  The parking lot is small...two or three trucks with 2H BP can drive in and swing round.  The canal is right there and the power plant is about a mile up.
 
5. If you are coming from the north, you take rt15 to 270 towards DC.  Take the Buckeystown exit.  Bottom of the ramp make a right and go straight (towards Dickerson).  When you cross the Monocacy river bridge, keep your eyes to the right.  About a mile or 2 up the road you will see a sign for the historic C&O aqueduct.  Make the right onto the tiny road and follow it back (You go across a narrow bridge and some RR tracks).  You will come to a Y.  The left branch goes down to the car parking area (not trailer friendly), the right goes to the boat parking area , perfect for trailer parking.

 


Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park (Great Falls)
Hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding (from mile 16.6 to mile 184.5) are the most popular ways to travel through the park.
There are many access points to the park.
park headquarters, 301-739-4200
Great Falls is a fee area: $3 per individual, $5 per vehicle
Horseback riding is yet another way to enjoy the C&O Canal. Groups must obtain approval in writing for all club rides and
for trips lasting more than one day. Write to Park Superintendent, C&O Canal NHP, P.O. Box 4, Sharpsburg, MD 21782,
and include an itinerary with dates and areas to be covered in order to obtain permission and information on staging and
camping areas. The following regulations apply to all riders in the park:
Horseback riding is not allowed between Georgetown (Mile 0) and Swains Lock (Mile 16.6).
Horseback-riding is not allowed when the towpath is soft due to wetness. Horseback riders may not exceed the speed of
a slow trot.
Riders must dismount and walk their horses across the aqueducts. Horses may not cross narrow, wooden footbridges
which are not designed to carry the concentrated weight of horses. Horses are not allowed to go through the Paw Paw
Tunnel prism or walk its towpath. They must take the Tunnel Hill Trail that goes over the tunnel.
Horses are not allowed in campgrounds, hiker-biker overnighters, picnic areas, or adjacent parking lots. Riders may
camp at hiker-biker campgrounds but must tether horses at least 50 feet from the areas' boundaries for sanitary and
safety reasons and must prevent horses from damaging trees or undergrowth. No trail-rider camping is allowed in the
park’s campgrounds at Antietam Creek, McCoys Ferry, Fifteen Mile Creek, Paw Paw, and Spring Gap.
Horse trailers are not allowed in drive-in camping areas and horses may not be loaded or unloaded in campgrounds or
picnic areas. Groups must carry a loading ramp. Trail riders are responsible for keeping loading and unloading areas
clean. Manure must be picked up and hauled away.
Vehicles and/or horse trailers must not block park roadways or emergency gates.
No grazing is permitted in the park. Bring in feed for horses.
Do not water, clean, or tether horses near park wells.