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C&O Canal MP 61-69, MD
mini location map2017-10-31
17 by photographer avatarkingsnake
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C&O Canal MP 61-69, MD 
C&O Canal MP 61-69, MD
 
Hiking avatar Oct 31 2017
kingsnake
Hiking10.02 Miles 233 AEG
Hiking10.02 Miles   3 Hrs   10 Mns   3.16 mph
233 ft AEG
 
1st trip
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On previous Easter visits, I’ve hiked [ Antietam National Battlefield ] and completed the Maryland segments of the Appalchian Trail.

I have roughed out some ideas for hiking the Appalachian Trail south of Harpers Ferry, and also in Pennsylvania, but the drives to those hikes are getting longer than I’d prefer. I want to keep the driving to a minimum, so my wife & I have time to do what we actually visit Maryland to do: Visit family.

So, in order to avoid burning out the nearby A.T. segments, I’ve decided to do those during our Easter visits, while doing some other hike during our Halloween visits. The historical Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Path fit the bill.

The C&O canal itself, is now mostly dry or swampy, with many fallen trees, and only scattered pools. For the most part, bluffs & small cliffs line the side of the canal oppposite the towpath and Potomac River. In the old days, when the canal was still in operation (1834-1924), the space between the towpath and canal would have been free of obstacles, so boats could actually be towed, now there are many trees in that narrow strip of land.

After crossing the footbridge at Maryland Heights, the towpath parallels the final set of Potomac River ‘falls’ (really more like rapids) to a cluster of points of interest: Inlet Lock 3, Lock 35, the ruins of Dam 3, and Lock 36, at MP 62. Dam 3 was first built in 1799, to provide power to the Harpers Ferry Armory.

The Huckleberry Hill Campground, at MP 63, is 1.6 miles into the hike. There are a number of camping spots, grills, picnic tables, a well hand pump and, most importantly, a portapotty. (Note: Camping on the C&O Canal is only allowed at designated sites.) The Dargan Bend Boat Ramp is 3.6 miles into the hike and has a pit toilet. Those are the only designated pee stops from MP 61-69 (inclusive).

A third of a mile past the boat ramp, at MP 65, is an old lime kiln, on the bluff side of the canal. It consists of an old coal bin, on the verge of collapse, and two ovens. The ovens are faced in stone, and lined with red brick. Just a few hundred yards past the lime kiln was the quarry from which the limestone was extracted. The quarry includes a tunnel that is maybe 100 ft. deep.

After rounding Dargan Bend, Lock 37 and its lockhouse, are located at MP 67. Unfortunately, the lockhouse is not only boarded up, but screened, making it impossible to peer into, or take zoomed photos of the interior. :?

The final two miles, from the lockhouse to the Antietam Aqueduct, at milepost 69, there are no points of interest to speak of. Just mellow trail walking.

The Antietam Aqueduct was a water bridge over water. In other words, a way from the canal to cross Antietam Creek without interfering with the creek’s flow, or the passage of boat traffic on the C&O Canal. I didn’t realize it at the time, but there is another lime kiln, just up Antietam Creek, which was where an ironworks was built in 1764. Antietam Creek, itself, gave its name to the Civil War battle, which remains the bloodiest day in American history.

After my wife picked me up at Antietam Aqueduct, we headed back to our hotel for a shower & post-hike libation, before heading off to trick-or-treat with our grandaughter Boo. (Appropriate nickname, no? :scared: )

Hike Video: [ youtube video ]
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