Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal West Scenic Byway

Follow rich history and adventure through Allegany County's portion of the historic C&O Canal, a 184.5-mile towpath that was used to transport natural resources from Cumberland, MD, to Georgetown between 1831 and 1924.

About the Byway

Allegany County's Chesapeake & Ohio Canal - West Scenic Byway is part of Maryland's larger 236-mile Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Scenic Byway - one of 15 scenic byway systems in the state - which runs from Cumberland, MD, to Washington, DC, along the C&O Canal National Historical Park. Nicknamed the "Grand Old Ditch," the C&O Canal served for nearly a century as a transport system carrying coal and natural resources from the mountains of Maryland to the eastern seaboard, using mules and cargo boats to travel the canal and towpath. Today, the canal serves as a popular recreation site and is Maryland's most-visited national park.

Explore the Byway by Bike, Boat, and Car

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal - West Scenic Byway extends from Cumberland, MD, to Hagerstown, MD, following the scenic routes of MD 51, MD 144, I-70, US 40, MD 56, MD 68, MD 63, and MD 65. Adventure your way off the byway to bike the C&O Canal Towpath, hike or mountain bike through Green Ridge State Forest, or explore the Paw Paw Tunnel, an engineering marvel along the canal, which took 14 years to build as workers cut through more than 3,000 feet of the mountain to bypass the Paw Paw Bends in the Potomac River.

The Canal Experience

Experience unique opportunities to learn about the history of the canal, embark on journeys through our parks, forests, and the Potomac River, and delight in the food and culture in our trail towns of Frostburg and Cumberland.

Points of Interest Along the Scenic Byway

  • 13006 Mason Road NE
  • (301) 338-2490

1812 Brewery is the first and only farm brewery in Allegany County, Maryland. The family owned and operated craft brewery and brew house is located in a repurposed barn built in 1812. In excess of 2,500 square feet, the two-story barn has been converted into a brewery with vats…

  • 13 Canal Street

Preserving America's early transportation history, the C&O Canal began as a dream of passage to Western wealth. Operating for nearly 100 years the canal was a lifeline for communities along the Potomac River as coal, lumber, and agricultural products floated down the waterway to…

  • Oldtown Road Southeast

is a well-marked location with bathrooms, parking, river map, picnic tables, and camping. Directions: From I-70 west, take exit 1A to merge onto I-68/I-40 west toward Cumberland. Take exit 43B for MD-51 toward Industrial Blvd/Airport. Right at MD-51 (Mechanic Street) south…

  • 3 Pershing Street
  • (301) 777-7200

The Allegany Museum offers an in-depth journey through Allegany County and the surrounding region's history, spanning from the arrival of Native Americans 12,000 years ago to the 20th century Industry. The museum also highlights the evolution of transportation, featuring the…

  • 28700 Headquarters Drive NE
  • (301) 478-3124

Green Ridge is Maryland's second largest state forest with 44,000 acres of oak and hickory forest types and pockets of shale barrens, desert-like habitats that dot the region because of its extremely low average annual precipitation. Abundant wildlife including deer, turkey, and…

  • 13 Canal Street
  • (301) 739-4200

Located in the C&O Canal National Historical Park Visitor Center, the C&O Canal National Historical Park Museum offers interactive and educational displays about the history of the C&O Canal and the city of Cumberland. Featuring an exhibit area with interactive and educational…

  • P.O. Box 228

Chosen by National Geographic as one of the "Top Fall Trips In The World," the Great Allegheny Passage winds through Maryland's mountains and along Wills Creek, giving bicyclists, hikers, and cross-country skiers some of the most majestic views in the east. Linking up to the C&O…

  • 13 Canal Street

Canal Place's ongoing mission is to honor and preserve local heritage and the C&O Canal and bring history to life for visitors and residents alike. Visitors can ride the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, hike or bike the C&O Canal Towpath, tour a full-scale Canal Boat replica…

  • 2 Howard Street, Suite B
  • (240) 522-1288

Dig Deep Brewing is proud of the working men and women who shaped and carved the buildings and roads out of this rugged landscape we know as Mountain Maryland. Their passion, ingenuity, and drive is present today in a new generation with one goal, a better Mountain Home. Digging…

More to Consider

Road Trips

There's nothing more exhilarating than hitting the open road to discover pieces…