A Western Maryland Walk on the C&O Canal

Follow the Potomac River west from Washington, D. C., oh, I’d say about a hundred miles, or so, and you will come to a sweet, little river town that was once in the running for the capital of the United States.  Williamsport, Maryland was reviewed by none other than George Washington for a possible location for the United States capital!!  Even though it wasn’t chosen as the capital…well, I am sure it was an honor just the same!

I headed to Williamsport to do some flatland hiking since it was way too hot and humid to climb a mountain today (for me anyway 😉 ).

Williamsport is a cool river town with the Potomac River forming a natural boundary on the west and Conococheague Creek hemming it in on the north.  The C&O Canal runs along the Potomac River.  Many bikers were already on the Canal or taking a break at picnic tables when I rolled into the parking lot.

Museum & Parking Area-Picnic tables and bathrooms!

Museum & Parking Area-Picnic tables and bathrooms!

Another large group of young folks were on their way to the river’s edge with fishing poles, buckets, and bait ready for whatever the river might bring them today.  It was quite a bucolic setting to behold.  I changed out my flip flops for walking shoes then set off to stroll upstream along the C&O Canal.

Of special interest is the crossing of the Conococheague Aqueduct.  The aqueduct is currently undergoing restoration but is still part of the C&O Canal so can be used during restoration.

Conococheague Aqueduct

Conococheague Aqueduct

One convenient aspect of the Canal is having mileage markers!  Walkers, bikers, or horse riders can keep track of how far they have gone.  I planned on hiking 6 miles, so I noted the first mileage marker, and knew I would need to turn around at mileage marker 103. Side note…One of drawbacks of the Canal is usually having to retrace your footsteps in the opposite direction to get back to your car.

First Mile Marker...100!

First Mile Marker…100!

It was a hot morning and I could feel the heaviness of the air settling over the river and the Canal. Occasional breezes which made the towering trees rattle their leaves did little to alleviate the heat and humidity that seemed to surround me. I am indebted to the birds that distracted me with a variety of melodies and, lucky me, an owl also hooted a welcome!

Big Trees, Shady Path

Big Trees, Shady Path

Each section of the Canal takes on its own personality.  At the beginning of my hike, and probably for a mile or so, there was farm land on my right and the Potomac River to my left.  A farmer was out on a tractor… Oh, I cannot tell you how welcoming it is for me to hear a tractor out in the field! I hail from southern Indiana and this sound takes me back to a place in my childhood that brings a feeling … of what…happiness? well being? comfort? love?…hard to describe, but good, good, good! 🙂

Then the farmland disappeared and all I could see is a huge rocky wall.  Boulders have fallen into the Canal here and the whole place takes on a rugged look.  I thought about whether it would be possible to climb to the top of the rock wall, just to see over to the other side, but it looked rather overgrown and vertical. And I was hot…well…that energetic, rock star moment didn’t last long. 🙂  Back to putting one foot in front of the other!

Towering Rock Wall

Towering Rock Wall

Quite a few bikers with packs were making their way down the Canal today.  I enjoyed the whoosh of air that accompanied them as they flew past me in groups of two, four, and more.  I was hoping for more as I neared my car and the end of my hike!

Potomac River on a Hot & Humid Summer Morning

Potomac River on a Hot & Humid Summer Morning

I trudged up the short incline to my car and ripped off my shoes and socks.  I could not put my flip flops back on fast enough!

Hot and Sweaty…Hike On!

Snowy Hike up to Weverton Cliffs, Maryland

Well, an unexpected 12 inches of snow! I was excited! Finally, a snowstorm that didn’t end in the dreaded wintry mix, a snowstorm that exceeded expectation, so off we went to play…WHEEEEEEEEEE!!!! 🙂

I headed down 340 towards Harper’s Ferry, and thought briefly about going down towards Shenandoah National Park…but then Weverton came into site as I rounded a corner.  I pulled off into the commuter lot, grabbed my pack and Sidekick Pauli…we were off!

Yay, someone had broken trail before us! Boooo…the plows had come by piling up the snow at the edge of road next to the trail.  It must have been 4 feet high! I started to climb over the the snow bank and promptly sunk into my knees, lovely way to start a hike.  😉 Sidekick Pauli didn’t seem to mind and jumped like a jack rabbit through the pile up of hard packed snow.

Winter on the  Appalachian Trail up to Weverton Cliffs

Winter on the Appalachian Trail up to Weverton Cliffs

I noticed snowshoe prints alongside the trail…brilliant! I was wearing microspikes and glad of them…but the snowshoes would be a perfect choice for this soft, fluffy stuff.  Sidekick Pauli did well with her four on the floor sticking her nose in the air sniffing her way up the snowy trail.

Steep! and great winter views!

Steep! and great winter views!

This trail has its fair share of rocks and step ups, but not today.  The blue skies and snowy trail made for a lovely walk. Steep as usual, but without the toe stubbing spots and ankle turner opportunities.   The temperatures were also delightfully mild and I actually found myself wishing I hadn’t opted for the heavy weight long underwear!

I posted a pic of the trail sign to Instagram… GroundBird Gear posted back at me stating they had broken trail the day before…in snowshoes!!! Well, now I know who made those prints I was admiring! 🙂

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We stopped at the top to share a PB&J and some cheese (Sidekick Pauli’s favorite hiking snack). The views were amazing and we had the sunny overlook to ourselves for quite awhile today. Nice!

Sidekick Pauli enjoying a break at Weverton Cliffs, Maryland

Sidekick Pauli enjoying a break at Weverton Cliffs, Maryland

Weverton Cliffs with the Potomac River in the background.  I can see Spring from here!

Weverton Cliffs with the Potomac River in the background. I can see Spring from here!

Hike On-it’s almost Spring! 😀

Balls Bluff Battlefield Regional Park: Leesburg, Virginia

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Do you know what it feels like to walk down a trail and not know what is around the next bend?  Many of the trails I walk are well worn paths that I have walked routinely for years…so there is nothing that sparks my curiosity like a new trail to explore! Virginia has recently created or […]

Humpday Hike @ C&O Canal 7/24/13

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Ever have that feeling you have to get out in the middle of the week even though you don’t really have the energy to do it… That was today.  I got home from work at 4:30 pm.  Fed the pack, then hemmed and hawed over whether it was worth it to drive in rush hour […]