Maryland’s Welcoming C&O Canal Towns
These cities and towns along the canal are where you’ll find the true spirit of the C&O.
Great places to stop and rest on your C&O Canal adventure, or destinations all their own, the towns and people along the C&O Canal make this a journey you’ll never forget. Offering guides for excursions, fantastic dining ranging from down-home to white tablecloth, or even just a tire patch for that cycling mishap and a perfect hot cup o’ Joe, these small towns will make big memories.
Home of the Poolesville Museum, the Seneca Schoolhouse Museum, and Historic White’s Ferry, Poolesville's historic architecture is sure to delight, and the welcoming spirit of the folks who call this hamlet home will have you coming back for sure.
This three block-long town with a population of 1,940 souls is named for the majestic rock formations on Catoctin Mountain. Point of Rocks is a truly beautiful place. The town’s historic Gothic Revival railroad station, built when the B&O Railroad arrived in 1873, is the stuff of postcard dreams. Point of Rocks is also home to fascinating Civil War history, its important strategic setting triggering numerous skirmishes between Federal troops and Confederate rangers.
As important a site on the B&O Railroad as it was on the canal, the town earned its name from its railroad workers, many of whom hailed originally from Brunswick, Germany. Brunswick’s main street community is replete with artists’ murals and is known for its restaurants and specialty shops; the town hosts an annual Wine & Chocolate Walk in September and Railroad Days in October.
Established in 1763, before the founding of the United States, Sharpsburg is best known for the events of September 17, 1862 when the Confederate forces of General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia were defeated by the Union Army of the Potomac in what remains the bloodiest day of battle in American history at nearby Antietam Creek. The Union victory at Battle of Antietam provided President Lincoln the impetus he needed to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. The town looks today much as it did then, more than 150 years ago.
You’re halfway there! Marking the midpoint of the canal, Williamsport is the only place in North America where you can see a lift bridge, a working aqueduct, a trolley barn, a turning basin, a lockhouse and a lock in the same place. The town is rich in history, and its walkable main street is a perfect place to take a break from the trail and unwind.
Set at the narrowest point in Maryland, Hancock also marks the intersection of the Western Maryland Rail Trail, an incredible journey of its own, and lies along the Historic National Road Scenic Byway. Main Street Hancock offers everything you’d want in a small-town destination, plus just down the road you’ll find Fort Frederick State Park, with a unique stone fort that served as Maryland’s colonial defense.
The terminus of the C&O Canal, Cumberland is a mountain town with so much to offer, including the start of the Great Allegheny Passage, a remarkable bike and hike path stretching all the way to Pittsburgh. Ride the Historic Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, visit the Allegany Museum, and explore the unique boutiques, shops and restaurants that give this western Maryland city its heart.