Summary: The Towpath for the C&O Canal is an excellant jogging/bike riding trail, offering beautiful views of the Potomac River. This particular stretch features the canal filled with water. Canoes can be rented from Swains lock for exploring this route from a different perspective. The canal itself seems to follow along the base of a line of cliffs. Often you are with in 30 ft. of the Potomac on your other side as well. This open, spacious, easy trail is great for a spring time stroll, or after work jog to loosen up a bit.
Trailhead: From Cabin John Bridge, on I-495, head north for 1.8 miles to exit 39A. Take exit ramp onto River Road (MD 190). Proceed for 11.5 miles to end of 190. Turn left and continue on River Road for .7 miles. Turn left onto Rileys Lock Road. Follow for .5 miles to end and parking lot (Lat:39.0704 Lon:-77.3395)
Trail Guides for C&O Canal - Rileys Lock to Swains Lock:
60 Hikes within 60 miles of Washington D.C.
by Paul Elliott (Menasha Ridge Press)
Best Seasons: Year-Round
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs, Bikes, Horses,
Ranger Contact: Canal National Park Headquarters (301) 739-4200
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Joe Cross, who has posted 56 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Submit your own review
Reviewed by H.K. on 11/2/2005
It's one of my favorite running routes. Starting on Riley's Lock, you see the old lock keeper's house, the lock, and the Seneca aqueduct that used to carry canal boats over Seneca Creek. For the first mile or so, the canal is dry. Soon after, it's full of water. There are some very interesting rock formations on the opposite side of the canal. For a while, the hike passes between the canal and some marshes. It is not uncommon to see blue herons and turtles. After going through some beautiful areas and a few more canal locks, the route ends at Swains Lock, a very quaint place with rental canoes and bikes. At Swains Lock there is another lock keeper's house. A true gem.
Reviewed by kp on 6/16/2005
My Fiance and I were both off work on a Thursday together and decided to explore the MD side of the Potomac. After getting lost and finding our way back on some 4-way drive trails we came across this C&O canal lock. We decided to rent a canoe figuring that it would be nicer than a bike rental and was pleasantly suprised. Definitely recommend stopping by this place after work, day off, etc. great way to unwind then go back to the concrete city.
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