In a simpler time waterways provided a lifeline to communities throughout the nation, helping them bring their crops to market and trade with nearby villages. The unique Chesapeake and Ohio Canal national park is a testament to the importance of these waterways, and visitors can relive history as they visit.
Stretching some 184-1/2 miles, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal national park is certainly one of the unique vacation destinations. Millions of visitors flock to spots throughout the park to hike, bike, fish, camp and enjoy the beauty of nature.
The rangers at the park are an important resource, providing valuable information to first time and experienced visitors alike. Ranger programs include organized hiking and biking trips through the park, as well as learning opportunities for school groups and others. Visitors may even get the opportunity to watch a park ranger demonstrating how freight was once moved down the canal with barges pulled by mules.
When a mule is not available hiking and biking is a great alternative. The towpaths that run the length of the park provide wonderful opportunities for both experienced and new hikers and cyclists, and many families enjoy precious time together exploring various parts of the path. Those who plan to ride the trail should be aware that bike riding is permitted only on the towpath. Riders also need to adhere to a 15 MPH speed limit while riding in the park. Cyclists also need to keep in mind that the towpath is a multiuse venue, and they should always yield the right of way to pedestrians, horses and of course the occasional mule.
Hiking is available on a wide variety of trails throughout the park, and comprehensive maps are available from the park rangers. The hiking options in the park are varied, ranging from easy trails to ones that are quite a challenge. Hikers who want to enjoy an overnight or multi-day adventure have access to several campsites along the way.
Others who wish to camp in the park have access to a number of campgrounds, with campsites being provided on a first come first served basis. Campsites can fill up quickly, so visitors are advised to arrive early and build some flexibility into their plans. The park does offer one reservation only campsite at the Marsden Tract Camping site.
Whether they choose to camp under the stars, hiking along the many miles of trails or enjoy a leisurely bike ride along the historic towpath, visitors are sure to be enthralled by the beauty of this unique national park. Visitors from around the country continue to flock to this historic venue for recreation, relaxation and even a little education. It is no wonder the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal national park has become such a national treasure.