This year, we are celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the C&O Canal National Historical Park joining the National Park Service system. This treasured national park was the 11th most-visited national park in the US in 2019 and preserves and interprets the 19th-century transportation canal from Washington, DC, to Cumberland, MD, and its associated scenic, natural, and cultural resources. In celebration, we invite you to come explore the wealth of education and outdoor recreation offered as part of the C&O Canal National Historical Park experience. It’s never too early to start planning, and we recommend adding these stops to your C&O Canal Historical National Park adventure.

For History


Allegany Museum

Set to reopen in March, the Allegany Museum is Allegany County’s first-class museum presenting the cultural, geographic, and commercial history of Appalachian Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Collections express Cumberland’s foundation and history tied to its geographic importance as a key east-west route linking coastal eastern America with the Ohio and Mississippi watersheds. Exhibits highlight the evolution of transportation from about 1750 to 1900 with scale models of canal boats and trains, plus a fully-restored 1825 Conestoga Wagon and 1902 Oldsmobile.

Canal Place Heritage Park-Cumberland-MD

Canal Place Heritage Park 

The Canal Place Heritage Park is the heart of the Passages of the Western Potomac Heritage Area, Maryland’s first heritage area, and marks the terminus of the C&O Canal Towpath as well as mile marker “0” for the Great Allegheny Passage Trail. Visitors can ride the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, tour a full-scale Canal Boat replica, learn about canal history at the C&O Canal National Historical Park’s Allegany County Visitor Center, plus enjoy the shops at Canal Place.

Paw Paw Tunnel

Paw Paw Tunnel

The Paw Paw Tunnel was undoubtedly one of the most important 19th-century engineering feats in the life of the C&O Canal, which tunnels 6/10ths of a mile through a mountain with over 6 million bricks used in its making. Today, the Paw Paw Tunnel is maintained by the National Park Service and is used by thousands of hikers and bikers each year. It is open year-round from daylight to dusk. But if you plan to visit, bring a flashlight. Even on the sunniest days, the openings at both ends of the tunnel reduce to pinpoints as you make the 20-minute walk through the center of the tunnel.

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Three of the park’s eleven aqueducts stand in Allegany County - Fifteen Mile Creek Aqueduct, Town Creek Aqueduct, and Evitts Creek Aqueduct. Constructed of flintstone, “bastard” limestone, and “Fossiliferous Tonoloway” limestone, each aqueduct is unique in its build and engineering, but they all served the purpose of carrying the canal over streams and tributaries. The Evitts Creek Aqueduct even played a role during the civil war when Union soldiers halted the raiding party of Confederate soldiers who had burned Chambersburg, PA, just days before from crossing Evitts Creek and entering into Cumberland.

For Outdoor Adventure


C&O Canal Towpath

The 12-foot wide, nearly-level path was built for mules to pull the canal boats along the 184.5-mile canal from Cumberland, MD, to Georgetown. Today, the path is an internationally-recognized recreation biking and hiking trail, maintained by the National Park Service. Outfit yourself with a bike rental or bring your own to experience the natural beauty and history of the trail.

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Great Allegheny Passage

With mile marker "0" located at Canal Place in Cumberland, the Great Allegheny Passage trail connects to the C&O Canal Towpath and continues 150 miles to Pittsburgh, PA, following along abandoned railroad beds. Together, the two trails create 333.5 miles of contiguous pedestrian recreation trail.


Potomac River 

Following the C&O Canal, this stretch of the Potomac River encounters historical towns and landmarks such as the Town Creek Aqueduct, the Fifteen Mile Creek Aqueduct, the Paw Paw Tunnel, Oldtown, MD, and Little Orleans, MD. The Western Maryland Railway tracks cross the bending river six times between Oldtown, MD, and Little Orleans, MD, providing convenient landmarks for paddlers. In addition to the C&O Canal, the river skirts Green Ridge State Forest. Downstream of Oldtown, the waters of the South Branch Potomac meet the North Branch to form the true mainstream of the Potomac River.

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Green Ridge State Forest

Green Ridge State Forest is Maryland’s largest contiguous block of public land and is directly adjacent to the C&O Canal for an 18-mile stretch through Allegany County’s portion of the trail. Explore over 50 miles of hiking trails and 200 miles of dirt and gravel roads with options for hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, mountain biking, and paddling. The Great Eastern Trail, a 1,600-mile, long-distance hiking trail that stretches from Alabama to the Finger Lakes in New York, runs through the forest, offering hiking and mountain biking adventure. Or, take a drive on the Green Ridge State Forest Scenic Overlooks Tour where you will see some of Allegany County’s most spectacular views at five of the forest’s scenic overlook locations.
*Photo by Nathaniel Peck

For Food and Culture

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Trail Towns

Cumberland and Frostburg are both official trail towns on the Great Allegheny Passage Trail and the C&O Canal Towpath, full of unique and charming shops and eateries. Both towns are state-designated Arts and Entertainment and Main Street districts and both share roots in the Passages of the Western Potomac Heritage Area transportation story. Delight in architectural beauty, small-town charm, and vibrant scenes. Be sure to take the self-guided walking tours while you visit.

Frostburg Walking Tour

Cumberland Walking Tour

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Breweries, Wineries, and Distilleries

Visit some of the area’s award-winning wineries, breweries, and distilleries. Dig Deep Brewing Co. and Charis Winery and Distillery are located right off the towpath at Canal Place in Cumberland, MD, and offer a robust selection of beers, wine, brandy, bourbon and moonshine. Locust Post Brewery is Allegany County’s newest farm brewery, located 8 miles off the canal in Little Orleans, MD. If you’re exploring the area further, be sure to check out 1812 Brewery in Flintstone, MD, and Toasted Goat Winery and Route 40 Brewing and Distilling Co, located right off the Great Allegheny Passage trail in Frostburg, MD.