Hikes|Travel|Uncategorized|Washington DC

5 Hikes Within 20 Miles of DC: Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Tow Path

Back in September, we went to a free Women’s Backpacking Basics class at the Washington, D.C. REI flagship store (super informative, highly recommend). On our way out, we picked up the American Hiking Society’s list of “Five Great Trails…All within 20 minutes of Washington, DC!” On Sunday, we set out to cross one off the list: Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Tow Path.

The C&O Canal served as a transit route along the Potomac. The tow path features original canal locks, lock houses and aqueducts. And, the trailhead is conveniently located by Georgetown’s waterfront promenade.


  • Fox Love Taco breakfast tacos for pre-hike fuel
  • Walking along the Potomac was a nice escape from the city
  • Wildlife sightings: 7 deer, 5 blueback herrings, 3 chipmunks, a field mouse, and a hawk in a bare tree (cue 12 Days of Christmas rendition)
  • 8 Miles – one of our longest hikes in quite a while
  • Cheering on the runners in a small marathon that was taking place


  • Canal Locks are just old wooden gates holding back algae covered water on the other side. Fascinating.
  • A considerable portion of the trail is a few yards off a busy road and not the most scenic trail
  • Unnecessary hiking boots, complete with sock and liner, provided quite a few blisters
  • One hunger and fatigue induced fight around mile 6 (bring snacks)
  • The refreshment tables along the trail were only for the marathoners



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