Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park | BIG SLACKWATER BOAT RAMP

Big Slackwater Boat Ramp at Mile 85.5 on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath

Big Slackwater Boat Ramp at Mile 85.5 on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath


The Big Slackwater Boat Ramp is located at Mile 85.5 on the C&O Canal towpath. See the Boat Ramps web page for an interactive location map.


The Big Slackwater Boat Ramp launches into the Potomac River and is suitable for both trailer- and hand-launched watercraft. There is parking for approximately thirty vehicles with boat trailers. Like all boat ramps within the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, there is no usage fee.

Just next door is the Big Slackwater Picnic Area with four tables and grills. A chemical toilet—a fancy outhouse in a permanent building—is also available to park visitors.

Big Slackwater is the name given to a section of the C&O Canal where boats could travel directly on the Potomac River. Because of this, three miles of canal did not have to be constructed. River travel was possible because Dam 4, which was located just downstream, created a deep pool that was navigable year-round (unless frozen during the winter).


NOTE: Sections of the towpath, locks and other historical structures, trails, campgrounds, picnic areas, boat ramps, and visitor centers are constantly being closed due to damage and/or repair. When planning an adventure within Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, make sure areas you plan to visit are open by checking the National Park Service’s official Current Park Conditions web page.


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Last updated on May 30, 2024
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