Washington D.C.: Georgetown & the C&O Towpath Canal!

tour of georgetown washington dc

“Georgetown is a charming area with Federal-style architecture, cobblestone streets, and fashion and design shops. The dining scene is defined by upmarket restaurants and waterfront seafood spots, while nightlife spans boisterous college bars, traditional taverns, and intimate live music lounges. Georgetown Waterfront Park has a riverside promenade and gardens, and there’s a bike path along the C&O Canal.” – Google

Note: Our ride began somewhere close to Dupont Circle, which is a little ways from Georgetown, but we did end up there eventually!

c and o towpath canal tour
My tour guide, Patricia L, somewhere close to Dupont Circle

“The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, abbreviated as the C&O Canal and occasionally called the ‘Grand Old Ditch,’ operated from 1831 until 1924 along the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, Maryland. The canal’s principal cargo was coal from the Allegheny Mountains.” – Wikipedia.org

tour of georgetown washington dc
Rolling out on the C&O!

“Construction on the 184.5-mile (296.9 km) canal began in 1828 and ended in 1850 with the completion of a 50-mile (80 km) stretch to Cumberland. Rising and falling over an elevation change of 605 feet (184 meters), it required the construction of 74 canal locks, 11 aqueducts to cross major streams, more than 240 culverts to cross smaller streams, and the 3,118 ft (950 m) Paw Paw Tunnel. A planned section to the Ohio River at Pittsburgh was never built. The canal way is now maintained as the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, with a trail that follows the old towpath.”

c and o towpath canal tour

“The Potomac River is found within the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States and flows from the Potomac Highlands into the Chesapeake Bay. The river (main stem and North Branch) is approximately 405 miles (652 km) long, with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles (38,000 km2). In terms of area, this makes the Potomac River the fourth largest river along the Atlantic coast of the United States and the 21st largest in the United States. Over 5 million people live within the Potomac watershed.”

c and o towpath canal tour

“The river forms part of the borders between Maryland and Washington, D.C., on the left descending bank and West Virginia and Virginia on the river’s right descending bank. The majority of the lower Potomac River is part of Maryland. Exceptions include a small tidal portion within the District of Columbia, and the border with Virginia being delineated from “point to point” (thus various bays and shoreline indentations lie in Virginia). Except for a small portion of its headwaters in West Virginia, the North Branch Potomac River is considered part of Maryland to the low water mark on the opposite bank. The South Branch Potomac River lies completely within the state of West Virginia except for its headwaters, which lie in Virginia.”

c and o towpath canal tour

In this video, JOM of the Gravel Cyclist crew tags along with D.C. area local, Patricia, for a quick jaunt through Georgetown, for some relaxing cruise miles / kms along the C&O Towpath Canal Trail. This little ride heads up to the Great Falls, before returning to Georgetown.

Washington D.C. – Georgetown & the C&O Towpath Canal Video

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2 comments on “Washington D.C.: Georgetown & the C&O Towpath Canal!

  1. Thanks for featuring this JOM..a couple of other interesting points about the C&O is that you can camp along the way at well appointed campgrounds along the Potomac and even rent out the lock houses overnight if bikepacking isn’t your thing. Also for those that want to travel to it you can fly into national and be in the dirt in 20 minutes via a bike path that runs from the airport straight into georgetown.
    The towpath (what some locals call it) is a gravel treasure around here and even though it does not have any real elevation change its a huge training ground for cyclist and adventure riding around the DC area. There are FKT on it from Cumberland and you can even take a variation of it all the way to Pittsburg.
    Anyone traveling for a quick work trip could rent a basic bike and get on it for however long you have…you can’t get lost and there are some great views of the are! Rideon!

  2. When connected to the Great Allegheny Passage (gaptrail.org), the C&O Towpath forms an uninterrupted 350-mile gravel/dirt route from Pittsburgh to DC. It’s a great five or six day trip through spectacular scenery with lots of interesting history.

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