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C&O Canal Path
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16 by photographer avatarkingsnake
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C&O Canal MP 124.5-130.7, MD 
C&O Canal MP 124.5-130.7, MD
 
Hiking6.98 Miles 125 AEG
Hiking6.98 Miles   2 Hrs   14 Mns   3.13 mph
125 ft AEG
 
1st trip
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Today, I hiked he C&O Canal from Hancock (MP 124.5) to Cohill Station (MP 130.7). Hancock is a “trail town”, complete with a canal-side bicycle shop (C&O Bicycle). Cohill Station, is a just a name on a map for what was once a Western Maryland Railway siding.

I started hiking at 8:10 a.m., almost an hour earlier than planned, due to rain being expected late morning all across Washington County. Even though I was not bike riding, I still wore my Camelbak, and good thing too as it was 94% humidity!

Unfortunately, besides threatening to rain later in the morning, it had rained the night before, so every time I stopped I got swarmed by mosquitoes. At least the towpath drains well.

Berm Rd. closely parallels the north side of the C&O Canal for 1½ miles. There is no potential bail point until almost five miles later at Cohill Station.

MP 126.5: White Rock Campground has the usual handleless well hand pump, portapotty, picnic table, grill, fire pit, direction & distance sign and doggie doo bag dispenser. Camping is free, and I saw a bike tourist taking advantage of the site. I was surprised he was still in his tent at 9 a.m.

Somewhere along the way, I stepped off the C&O Canal towpath into the what appeared to be a firm, or at least not watery, canal bed. I immediately sank into 4″ of mud. 🙄

Round Top Hill (1,358 ft. el.) is a stand-alone ridge that stretches two miles south-southwest from MP 127.2 to near Leopards Mill Campground. It is exceptionally steep at its northern end, above Devil’s Eyebrow, climbing 950 ft. in only ¼ mile (a 38% grade). As I approached Round Top Hill, the upper ⅔ was shrouded in low-lying clouds.

MP 127.4: The first feature of Round Top Cement Mill I noticed was the stone-faced kilns 30 ft. up on the bluff-side of the canal. Trying to beat the rain, I skipped exploring the kilns like I did back down the C&O Canal near Dargan Bend. [ photo ]

Round Top Cement Mill, in operation from 1838 to 1903, provided cement for the construction of the Washington Monument — the one in DC, not the original along the Appalachian Trai [ photo ] — and the U.S. Capitol building being most prominent.

MP 130.0: Camping at Leopards Mill Campground is free. The campground has a portapotty, picnic table, grill, fire pit, direction & distance sign, doggie doo bag dispenser and … DRUM ROLL! … the first functional water pump in over 20 miles. No joke. I’m serious. Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye. 🤞

Lock 53 is just past Leopards Mill Campground and is the first C&O Canal lock I remember that is impassable due to dense brush. The canal sure, but not any lock I recall. Lock 53 also had some foundation and cement steps that appeared to be lockhouse remains.

MP 130.7: I arrived at Cohill Station just as a light sprinkle began. There’s a boat ramp to the left, but a narrow footbridge to the right, so the only “boat” getting across that is a kayak. Parking is in a pull out just across the bridge.

Hike Video: https://vimeo.com/735430515
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
Phlox paniculata, white bergamot, dame’s rocket, European black nightshade, Japanese wineberry, Carolina vetch (???), crown vetch. The Maryland Biodiversity Project is a great resource! https://www.marylandbiodiversity.com/

I was surprised at the lack of fungi.
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