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C&O Mile 85 - 105: Big Slackwater & Williamsport

Tags on this page: Bike Touring, Bike Packing, C&O Canal Lodging, Slackwater, Williamsport

A very nice section highlighted by several dams in the Potomac, Big Slackwater restoration, the canal town of Williamsport, and the halfway point (99.25 miles) from DC to Cumberland.


The seven dams on the Potomac River were built to divert water into the canal.  Dam#4 provided water for 22 miles of the canal.  Dam#4 also made it possible to divert canal boats into this calm area of the river for 4 miles with the towpath being on the river bank.  Annual rains and flooding made this section of the towpath mostly impassable until 2012 when a two-year construction projection came to fruition.  Riders can now ride along a beautiful concrete walkway/bikeway immediately adjacent to the Potomac.  Not only does this allow for beautiful views of the river, but it negates the prior detour over narrow roads.  The area also has a picnic area and a boat ramp and for the last 100+ years Dam number 4 has also provide hydroelectric power.

Williamsport is a town that understands the impact of the C&O Canal National Historic park.  The canal basin has been rewatered and supports boat rides.  Under construction is the Conocheague aqueduct, which will soon be the only re-watered aqueduct on the canal.  There is a visitor’s center at the basin and the town offers restaurants, hotels and shopping.  Ample parking  at the basis also makes  this a great place for a day ride

Conococheague Aqueduct: Currently closed as of May 2017. As part of a larger restoration project costing $9 million to be completed in 2019, this will return the Conococheague Aqueduct to its 1920’s appearance and create the first watered, operational aqueduct along the C&O Canal since 1924. As such, there is a short 1.1 mile detour around the aqueduct, seen below. The entrance and exit spots are marked on the interactive map below as well.

Press release on the renovations

Additional history on the aqueduct:

Detour around Cushwa Basin & Conococheague Aqueduct:

How to use the map: The map below contains points of interest for this section of the trail! Click the upper left hand button to see a menu with a list of all points. Items on this map are grouped by Category or trail, and can be toggled on or off through this menu to get a better picture of  a specific category of options. All items contain their description from the table below, as well as google-maps information as availble. Click on the upper right hand button to view the map in greater detail.


How to use the table: The table below contains points of interest for this section of the trail! Click on the heading of each section in order to get a sorted list of items (i.e. see all items by Mile on the trail, or all places with Food.) The upper right contains a search bar -- use this to find all items with a specific word (i.e. all 'locks' or all 'attraction'). All items below also exist on the map above, grouped and labeled by type for clarity and convenience. 

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