America's Scenic Byways

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Byway

236 miles - Allow 4 hours to drive the byway.

Workers who toiled on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal between 1828 and 1859 could not have imagined that their engineering feat - designed for the sole purpose of speeding up commercial trade - would one day become a hub of outdoor recreational activity. Hiking, biking, bird watching and mule-drawn barge rides are among the many popular pursuits now enjoyed beside this peaceful passage.

During its century of service, the canal worked with a system of 74 lift locks that regulated water levels, allowing boats laden with coal, flour, lumber, grain and produce to be pulled by mule trams walking on an adjacent towpath. Their 184.5-mile journey stretched from the mountains of Western Maryland, through farmland and forest, to the tidewater outskirts of our nation's capital. Your journey follows this same course, allowing you to make heritage discoveries along each new mile.

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