Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Loop
ElevationAscent: 51' 15 m
Descent: -50' -15 m
High: 174' 53 m
Low: 132' 40 m
GradeAvg Grade: 1% (1°)
Max Grade: 4% (3°)
Popular hikes nearby
Short Overlook Loop
1.4 mi 2.2 km • Out and Back • 26 ft Ascent 7.98 m Ascent
Great Falls Park - South Loop
3.3 mi 5.3 km • Loop • 201 ft Ascent 61.16 m Ascent
Billy Goat Trail C Loop
2.9 mi 4.6 km • Loop • 140 ft Ascent 42.52 m Ascent
5.3 mi 8.6 km • Out and Back • 110 ft Ascent 33.4 m Ascent
1.9 mi 3.1 km • Out and Back • 19 ft Ascent 5.66 m Ascent
Cool Spring Run to Loops
4.3 mi 6.9 km • Loop • 352 ft Ascent 107.44 m Ascent
Navigate on-trail with our free app
“A beautiful family-friendly loop that mixes history with breathtaking scenery.”— Karl W
In front of the tavern is Lock 20 (the 20th lock out of 74). A bridge just below the lock offers access to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Tow Path - a trail that stretches for nearly 200 miles along the historic canal. Head north on this trail to the Washington Aqueduct Observation Deck. This elevated platform offers excellent views of one part of the Aqueduct, which began full operations in 1864 and is listed as a National Historic Landmark.
Head back south along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Tow Path, back past Lock 20, and then past Lock 19 and Lock 18. Look for Olmsted Island Bridges on your right/west. This short trail crosses over a unique "floodplain terrace" environment made up of a few islands. The islands are connected by two bridges that cross over narrow ravines through which the Potomac river rushes. These bridges alone offer views that are worth the trip. However, at the end of the trail you'll come to an observation deck for Great Falls - a series of falls that drop the Potomac nearly 80 feet. Sections of the Potomac Gorge have class V+ rapids that are popular with kayaks.
Return to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Tow Path and head back north. This time cross the canal at Lock 19 to shake up your vies of the canal and locks. Finally, pass back by the tavern (or stop in) and return to the parking area. There are bathrooms along this last section too. You can also take a boat ride during spring/summer along the canal.
Hiked this trail?
We need help with the following missing trail information:
ADA Accessible, Need to Know, Flora & Fauna
Land Manager: NPS - Chesapeake & Ohio Canal