The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail corridor is filled with history, culture and outdoor adventure. The Trail network embraces both shores of the tidal Potomac River; the escarpment within the Nation’s capital; and trails within the Piedmont and the Blue Ridge; and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath. Bridging the Eastern Continental Divide, the Great Allegheny Passage traverses the Allegheny Plateau to connect with the Forks of the Ohio and the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail. The evolving Trail network offers opportunities for hiking, bicycling, paddling, horseback riding and cross-country skiing. These pages provide a means to explore the network by region and by activity. Please tell us about your experiences through commenting on itineraries or sending us your own.

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Alexandria’s Canal Trail

The historic port town of Alexandria is one of the Potomac Heritage Trail’s most vibrant, happening places. There are shops, watering holes, and all variety of eateries. Alexandria also has the distinction of being an archaeological treasure. It’s one of the most studied towns in America. There’s an Alexandria Archaeology Museum in the Torpedo Factory Art Center, as well as several self-guided walking tours along The Alexandria Archaeology Trail.

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Journey from Hancock Along the C&O Canal Towpath and W. MD Rail-Trail

Europeans began arriving in the Hancock area as early as the 1730s. When the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal (C&O) came a century later, followed by a toll road on the National Road, followed by the railroads, Hancock boomed between the early 19th and early 20th centuries..

During the Civil War, troops from both sides frequently crossed the river and the C&O Canal.  Soldiers traded volleys across the water and skirmished in and near Hancock. Confederates attacked canal boats and trains, destroyed [...]

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Point of Rocks & the Civil War Along the C&O Canal

Photo provided by Judy Olsen Photography

Point of Rocks (POR) has been an important crossroads of travel since American Indians established routes through the region. Though quieter these days, the area was bustling with commerce between the 1830s and 1930s. During the Civil War, POR found itself in the middle of a battleground, and the village today is a staging point to explore this history.

You can park at the commuter train station (3800 Clay Street) or at the National Park [...]

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On the GAP: Ohiopyle and Confluence

Few places in the Potomac Heritage Trail corridor offer so many outdoor recreational opportunities as this segment of the Great Allegheny Passage—actually there are few places like this anywhere. This trip involves an easy 10.5-mile bike ride or walk from Ohiopyle, the focal point of a State Park by the same name, to the little town of Confluence, where one finds many eateries and options for lodging. Seasoned cross-country skiers can make this a day trip, though skiers of all [...]

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The Cumberland Coast along the Great Allegheny Passage

What about a biking experience that includes a 20-mile downhill cruise involving little-to-no pedaling, a scenic vista available only to cyclists and hikers, a 3,300-foot long tunnel, a 140-year old iron bridge and ice cream?  Welcome to The Cumberland Coast, a scenic ride, and sometimes a “coast” from Meyersdale, Penn., to Cumberland, Md., on the Great Allegheny Passage.

The Particulars:  Set Up a Shuttle

Arrange a shuttle if you are interested in a one-way ride only, although you will pass many bikers [...]

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Experience Art and Nature in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands

The Laurel Highlands is one of the most scenic and diverse destinations in Pennsylvania. Its unique typography and natural resources of mountains and rivers, offers a wide range of active outdoor experiences for visitors year round. Thousands of acres of state and federal park land throughout the region are open for hiking, biking, water recreation and wildlife viewing. Incredible vistas open over white water and quiet pools as the parks are crisscrossed with hundreds of streams and tributaries. Thanks to photographer paul g. wiegman for providing the wonderful photos that accompany this itinerary. (more…)

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Abner Cloud’s Georgetown

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This is a fine little urban jaunt along the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., following the C&O Canal from mile 3.1 to mile 0.5. There are terrific views of the Potomac River and the Rosslyn, Va., skyline. And the canal in Georgetown was once its Main Street, where buildings were oriented to take advantage of the waterway. (more…)

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Alexandria’s Canal Trail: Bogs, Bluffs & Bays

The historic port town of Alexandria is one of the Potomac Heritage Trail’s most vibrant, happening places. There are shops, watering holes, and all variety of eateries. Alexandria also has the distinction of being an archaeological treasure. It’s one of the most studied towns in America. There’s an Alexandria Archaeology Museum in theTorpedo Factory Art Center, as well as several self-guided walking tours along The Alexandria Archaeology Trail. (more…)

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Fort Washington and Oxon Hill

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Talk about a wonderful day enjoying history and scenic views of the Potomac River only minutes from Washington, D.C.! Here are three fascinating historic sites on the river only minutes apart by car. You can spend hours exploring Fort Washington’s immense fortification and garrison—with some of the most amazing views of the Potomac you’ll ever find. Oxon Hill Park and Farm offers a chance for exploring nature and for kids to see farm animals and learn about life near the Nation’s capital. The architecture and gardens Oxon Hill Manor offers an elegant sojourn into one of Washington’s finest estates—not to mention a romantic place to watch the sun go down. (more…)

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Snavely Ford Trail, Antietam National Battlefield

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Here’s a pleasant circuit walk along the surprisingly wild Antietam Creek less than a mile from the C&O Canal. The hike meanders along one of three fronts in the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day of the Civil War. Wild turkey, beaver, barred owls, and other wildlife inhabit the stream valley. Cows can often be seen grazing on the other side of the creek. The lovely bucolic countryside belies the carnage that took place along the creek on September 17, 1862. (more…)

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