Maryland Mountain Dreams

Time To Plan A Bike Ride? How About A Spring Hike?

While the weather outside right now may not be conducive of going off on a bike tour, right about now may be a good time to start planning for the spring and summer.

A good place to start (or end) could be the town of Cumberland, Maryland where two hike and bike trails come together. Heading south on the C&O Canal towpath you can travel all the way to Washington. Heading north and west is a 150 mile trail system called the Great Allegheny Passage leading you all the way through the mountains to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania once it’s completed.

Going South On The C&O

When you are traveling on the C&O you are visiting a 184.5 mile long National Historical Park. The National Park Service has this to say about the canals importance to the area…

Packet Boat on Canal
Packet Boat on Canal, NPS Photo

In the 19th century the C&O Canal provided jobs and opportunities for people throughout the Potomac River Valley. Today the canal's remains provide a place to recreate and enjoy nature, but most importantly they tell the story of the canal's important role in many aspects of American history. These include western expansion, transportation, engineering, the Civil War, immigration, industry and commerce. (via Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park – History & Culture (U.S. National Park Service))

Today, millions of visitors each year hike or bike the towpath alongside the canal. If you plan in advance there is the possibility of staying the night in a furnished Lockhouse. At this time there are three lockhouses set up to allow for overnight stays with two additional lockhouses being rehabilitated for the program.

Stay the night, remember forever

Have you ever wanted to see the inside of a lockhouse or wondered what it was like to live and work along the canal? Well now you can!

Canal Quarters offers an extraordinary interpretive opportunity for people of all ages. Now, for the first time ever, you can stay overnight in a lockhouse and experience life as it may have been during a bygone era on the C&O Canal. Four lockhouses have been painstakingly rehabilitated and furnished to evoke different eras in the canal’s history.(via C&O Canal Trust – Exploring a Canal of History)

Just keep in mind, you really will be experiencing life as it was…In some houses running water and electricity are not available. In addition to the lockhouses  there are over 1,300 historic structures in the C&O Canal NHP, more than in any other national park in the country.


Begun in 1828, it wasn’t until October 10, 1850 that the canal was opened in Cumberland. On that day the first five coal boats of what would be a multitude over the following years started their journey towards the Atlantic.

“Many of us were young when this great work was commenced,” said the spokesman for the town, “The opening of yonder gates to let through the first boat carrying freight…is the turning point in the history of the canal.”

The engineering feat was impressive. There were 74 locks, 7 dams, 11 aqueducts and a 3,118-ft tunnel along the 184 and a half miles of ditch and towpath.Boats

It was the flood of 1889 that spelled the end of the C&O as a viable business. Ownership passed to the B&O Railroad, long time competitor of the Canal Company. By 1902 the management of the canal was in the hands of Canal Towage Company and the life on the canal was totally different. Boats once owned by the watermen became company property; impersonal numbers replaced the boat names.

After another flood in 1924 left the canal in ruins the canal age was abandoned to history until granted a new lease on life in 1971 as a National Historical Park.

Up Next: The Trail North…

See Also:

Maryland Mountain Dreams

A natural kind of charm in Oakland, Md.

In the heart of the Allegheny Mountains of westernmost Maryland, near where its borders meet those of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, the anglers, hikers and boaters have departed, giving way to the skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers. The mountains, lakes and wilderness areas of Garrett County await them, with opportunities to indulge in its laid-back rural ambiance.

via Getting away: A natural kind of charm in Oakland, Md..

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Maryland Mountain Dreams

The Appalachian Trail in Maryland

Ranger Supervisor Tammy McCorkle shares her experiences, and those of other day hikers and thru-hikers, of what it’s like to hike the Appalachian Trail in the Fall 2002 edition of The Natural Resource Magazine.

Forty miles of the Appalachian Trail run through Maryland. From Harpers Ferry, the trail follows the Potomac River on three miles of the C&O Canal towpath, then climbs South Mountain at Weverton Cliff. From there the AT follows the ridgeline of South Mountain all the way to Pennsylvania, mostly through state and federal lands. Here, as elsewhere along the trail, overnight shelters for backpackers are located about one day’s walk apart. Some of these are historic, built by the CCC in the early 1940s. The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club has also built two new shelters during the last few years, naming one after Ed Garvey.

The Maryland portion of the AT passes through significant historic sites comprising South Mountain Recreation Area, including: Gathland State Park, home of the War Correspondents Arch; South Mountain State Battlefield, site of the Civil War battle that took place in Crampton’s Gap, Fox’s Gap and Turner’s Gap; Washington Monument State Park, location of the first monument to George Washington; and Greenbrier State Park, which boasts a 44-acre lake. Hardy hikers find breathtaking scenic vistas at Weverton Cliff, White Rock, Washington Monument, Annapolis Rock, Black Rock and High Rock worth the climb.

via The Appalachian Trail.

Maryland Mountain Dreams

Meeting of the Maryland Native Plant Society: Western Mountains Chapter

On August 18 at 7 pm at the Appalachian Laboratory in Frostburg, the Western Mountains Chapter of the Maryland Native Plant Society will hold it’s regular meeting. There will be a presentation after the business meeting.

Topic – Native Orchids of North America

Speaker – Jessie Harris

Program will begin immediately following a brief MNPS chapter business meeting. The public is welcome to attend.

The Western Mountains Chapter of the Maryland Native Plant Society will hold its regular meeting at the Appalachian Laboratory in Frostburg on Tuesday August 18th at 7:00 pm. The guest speaker will be Jessie M. Harris, world-renowned nature photographer and owner of Flower and Nature Photography in Washington, D.C. Ms. Harris will give a slide presentation called “The Native Orchids of North America.” During her program she will showcase native orchids, the real gems of the forest, using the exquisite photographs that she has taken over the last 30 years.

For more information visit the Society’s website: Maryland Native Plant Society: Western Mountains Chapter

If you would like to know more about the Maryland Native Plant Society you may want to download their latest newsletter at Native News, July/August 2009. I found it an interesting read and worth the investment in time…

Maryland Mountain Dreams


To Maryland Mountain Dreams.

Continuing the expansion of my Mountain Dreams concept…

I will be posting information relevant to visiting, moving to and living in these mountains I have come to love.

Hopefully as this site grows it will become a resource for more than my own informational purposes…Enjoy your visit and feel free to let me know about any glitches.

I look forward to hearing from you as I go forward.


Gary Boyd, Head Dreamer