paddling near the Monocacy Aqueduct
Justin Tsucalas - Visit Frederick

Enjoy Water Experiences Along the C&O Canal

paddling near the Monocacy Aqueduct
Justin Tsucalas - Visit Frederick

It seems kind of obvious that a canal would be a great spot to find fun water experiences, but if you expand your horizons just outside the canal's boundaries and into the C&O region, you’ll be amazed at the opportunities. From historic canal boat rides to white water adventures, you’ll find H20 awesome adventures along the C&O Canal.

Step Aboard History on the Great Falls Tavern Canal Boat Ride

Experience what life was like on the working canal aboard the Charles F. Mercer, a historic canal boat that still plies the “Grand Old Ditch.” Pulled by mules in the same way canal boats were a century ago, interpreters in period costume lead your journey from the Great Falls Tavern stretch of canal and through a working lock. If you want to experience the canal as it was at the beginning, this is the ticket!

Set a Course for Fun with Cushwa Basin Boat Rides
C & O Canal at Cushwa Basin

Get a glimpse of life in the working canal’s later days with boat rides out of the Cushwa Basin. Once an embarkation point for loads of Western Maryland coal, the basin is now plied by replicas of 1890s powered launches. Climb aboard for an hour-long boat ride that will take you under the canal’s last working aqueduct, up and back down on an original lift lock, and roundabout in a turning basin.

Go Tubing, Rafting or Kayaking with River & Trail Outfitters
Whitewater Rafting

For nearly 50 years, River & Trail Outfitters in Knoxville has been generating Western Maryland water memories for thousands of visitors. With selections ranging from mild to wild, River & Trail offers inner tubing tours, white water rafting and kayaking on the Savage and Potomac rivers, as well as flat-water paddling. They can also hook you up with bicycling, ziplining, and unique food & drink tours that combine the bounty of the region with the thrill of the water.

Drop a Line in Local Fish Filled Rivers
Family fishing

Go for bass and snakehead in the Potomac, fish for plentiful trout in surrounding rivers and streams, or rent a boat in nearby Lake Habeeb. Whatever your fishing pleasure, the C&O Canal’s Western Maryland backdrop has got just the spot for you. Find out more or pick a local fishing guide at Fish & Hunt Maryland.

Spend the Day on Beautiful Lake Habeeb

With scenic camping surrounding the lake, and more posh accommodation options at the lakefront Rocky Gap Casino Resort, Lake Habeeb is 243 acres of liquid heaven. From its sandy beaches and tree lined shores, you can rent stand-up paddleboards, canoes, and kayaks. Fishing is gratifying, with folks even braving the lake in winter for ice fishing! Worth a trip all on its own, Lake Habeeb in Rocky Gap State Park is a great aquatic getaway just off the C&O Canal.

Watch the Kayakers at the Great Falls of the Potomac
Great Falls
csheildsphotography - Instagram

Compared by our founding fathers to the great Cataracts of the Nile, the raging rapids of Great Falls are outside the reach of even some seasoned paddlers, but some of the best kayakers in the world come to test their metal along this national icon. And the view from the Great Falls Overlook by the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center is simply staggering. Imagine “The Wide World of Sports” amped up to 11. If you are a highly experienced white water paddler, you might consider braving these Class V+ rapids, but for most of us, just watching is thrill enough.

Take the Plunge on a Potomac Paddlesports Whitewater Adventure
Image of people enjoying whitewater rafting
Potomac Paddlesports

Potomac Paddlesports' Expert guides keep you safe and steady while class II/III whitewater get your heart pounding when you explore the rushing waters just down-river from the iconic Great Falls of the Potomac . Just 20 minutes from downtown DC an unforgettable experience is waiting. Dare the thrilling rapids, take in the majesty of Mather Gorge, and witness the beauty of Bear Island on this amazing three-hour adventure.