Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park | HORSEBACK RIDING

Horseback riding on the C&O Canal towpath (photo by Jerry Edmundson)

Horseback riding on the C&O Canal towpath (photo by Jerry Edmundson)


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 that areas you plan to visit are open by checking the National Park Service’s official Current Park Conditions web page. The park’s Horseback Riding web page also has information about sections of the towpath that are closed to horseback riding due to construction.


If you have your own horse, you can ride anywhere on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath between Lock 21 at Mile 16.6 and Offutt Street at Mile 181.8 (mileposts similar to those on highways denote mileage along the towpath). The only exception is that horses are not allowed in the Paw Paw Tunnel and must take the Paw Paw Tunnel Hill Trail over the mountain. You must also dismount and walk over all aqueducts and cannot cross wooden footbridges over the canal. No riding is allowed after dark.

You can park your trailer at any dirt parking lot provided it is not at one of the five drive-in campgrounds or near a picnic area. Unless you know of a spot, I suggest using one of the boat ramps because they have large parking lots for vehicles with trailers. However, you can’t use a boat ramp that is next to a campground or picnic area. Available ramps would include Bonds Landing, Taylors Landing, Snyders Landing, Lander Boat Ramp at Lock 29, Point of Rocks, Nolands Ferry (there is a picnic area, but the trailer parking is in a separate location), and Edwards Ferry. See the Boat Ramps web page for an interactive location map.

If you are planning an overnight trip, you can camp at any of the Hiker-Biker Campsites along the towpath. However, your horse must stay at least 50 feet from the campsite boundary. Horses are not allowed at any of the drive-in campgrounds.

As long as you park in official Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park parking lots, no permit is needed for vehicles of those taking an overnight trip. However, the National Service does not patrol the parking lots at night, so parking is done at your own risk. Do not store valuable items in your vehicle.

You can also travel on the towpath with a sled and sled dogs from November 1 through March 15 between Sycamore Landing at Mile 27.2 and the Town Creek Hiker-Biker Campsite at Mile 162.

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With a few exceptions, use of any photograph on the National Park Planner website requires a paid Royalty Free Editorial Use License or Commercial Use License. See the Photo Usage page for details.
Last updated on June 7, 2024
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