A Dozen Must-See Sights for Your C&O Canal Adventure

1. Great Falls of the Potomac Overlook
These raging rapids of the Potomac are a massive stretch of whitewater and several waterfalls that drop a total of 76 feet and challenge the best paddlers in the world. Just off the towpath, the Great Falls of the Potomac Overlook offers a truly inspiring vista, and a great place to begin your C&O Canal adventure from the east.

2. Antietam National Battlefield
Located in the Canal Town of Sharpsburg, Antietam Creek was the site of the single bloodiest day of battle in American history. The Union victory emboldened President Lincoln to deliver the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves in states that were in rebellion. Today, the battlefield provides remarkable historic insight along with amazing hiking and bicycling and paddling opportunities on Antietam Creek, a beautiful waterway spanned by the historic stone arch of the Burnside Bridge.

3. Washington County Museum of Fine Arts
Located in the heart of historic Hagerstown along the walkable, wonderful cultural trail, the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts is one of the best small museums in the country. The museum collection houses more than 6,000 works, spanning the globe and the centuries.

4. Sugarloaf Mountain
With an elevation of nearly 1,300 feet, Sugarloaf may not be the tallest mountain on the planet, but it’s sweeping views of surrounding farmland and challenging yet approachable climb make it a must for hikers in the area.

5. Paw Paw Tunnel
Hewn from ancient mountain rock, and built with more than six million bricks, the tunnel burrows 3,118 feet through the earth. Considered “The greatest engineering marvel along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal,” the journey through the tunnel is one you’ll never forget.

6. Glen Echo Park – Clara Barton House Cultural Landscape
This historic home of Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, is a monument to her dedication to fighting for those less fortunate. Located in Glen Echo, a 19th-Century amusement park complete with its historic carousel, this two-for-one National Park is a truly unforgettable cultural landscape.

7.  Killiansburg Cave
A natural refuge, Sharpsburg residents sheltered in Killianburg Cave in fear of Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army during the Battle of Antietam. Located at mile marker 75.7, this Gothic limestone cavern is one of the largest natural caves in the area.

8. Fort Frederick
Older than the nation itself, colonial Fort Frederick was built in 1756 at the outset of the French and Indian War, was manned again for the American Revolution, and was the sight of a skirmish during the Civil War. The restored battlements offer an enthralling look at our colonial past. 

9. Ferry Hill Plantation
Built on a soaring bluff over the Potomac, Ferry Hill Plantation is also a C&O Canal National Historical Park Visitors Center located at mile marker 72.9. Its expansive porch offers a grand view and a perfect spot to rest on your C&O Canal journey.

10. National War Correspondents Memorial Arch
Set in nearby Gathland State Park this stone arch dedicated to the journalists who gave their lives reporting the Civil War is the first memorial of its kind in the world.

11. Green Ridge State Forest
Spanning 47,560 acres with more than 50 miles of hiking trails, Green Ridge State Forest is the largest contiguous block of public land in Maryland, and a fantastic destination in its own right. Offering fishing, camping, paddling, and breathtaking views, this rugged Appalachian tract is well worth the journey.

12. Sideling Hill Welcome Center
Set at the road-cut for Interstate 68 and home of the Sideling Hill Welcome Center, this place is best known for its commanding view of the countryside stretching out from the edge of the Appalachian Mountains. The cut itself, however, offers a fascinating look through millions of years of the area's geology.