Start to finish, Georgetown, DC, to Cumberland, Maryland, the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal is 184.5 miles long. Gorgeous. A tow path parallels the canal its full length, leading past woodlands, pastures,rocky cliffs, great falls, old stone structures and historic towns as it travels. The whole business is called the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park.
Pick up the trail in Georgetown on Thomas Jefferson St., just south of busy M St. Then, hike, bike, fish, or boat: it’s your choice. Don’t even need to bring your gear. Fletcher’s Cove, at the 3 mile marker, will rent you boats, bikes, a fishing license, even bait. (This is a seasonal operation.)
Built in the 1800s as a conduit for transporting goods into the city, the canal swiftly was supplanted by the railroad, at least for commercial purposes. Nothing outshines the canal and its towpath for sheer natural beauty and for the many outdoor recreation activities it offers.