CandO Canal Towpath - Paw Paw Tunnel

Cumberland, Maryland 21503

CandO Canal Towpath - Paw Paw Tunnel

C&O Canal Towpath - Paw Paw Tunnel Professional Review and Guide

"A walk along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath through a tunnel more than half a mile long, followed by a scenic walk near a remote stretch of the Potomac. The return hike is over a shoulder of the mountain on the Potomac side, offering stunning views of the West Virginia mountain landscape.

You could take longer getting to the trailhead than hiking this delightful section of the C&O Canal Towpath, but you will find you want to savor every moment out there. Take a flashlight along to better explore the tunnel walls and the several places where brick courses have been removed back to stone. Special considerations: Bring a flashlight for walking through the tunnel."

C&O Canal Towpath - Paw Paw Tunnel Reviews

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I have hiked and biked through the tunnel many times, but this was the first time I hiked through and then over it. The day was the warmest day we had seen in a few weeks -- temps in the 50s. The previous few weeks had been very cold which meant many beautiful ice sculptures in the "canyon" on the east end of the tunnel. One 6-foot section of the C&O Canal Trail was a sheet of ice, angled towards the canal! The kids in my group managed it just fine, but us "older" people were very worried about our balance. I ended up throwing a lot of debris (rocks, twigs, dirt) on the ice to give me more traction We all made it and everyone enjoyed the trail from the wonderful natural ice sculptures to the views from the top of the trail.
Fun short hike. The tunnel is interesting. Great for small kids if they don't mind the dark tunnel. Be sure to bring a flashlight. The rest of the hike is nice for a fall afternoon. It was worth the trip from northern Virginia.
This short trail was strenuous at first but then easy on the down hill. You start at the entrance to the tunnel - don't go thru the tunnel first. You go over the tunnel and end up on the other side and then walk through the tunnel. It was SO COOL !!! The tunnel is sooo much longer than it looks. This was a very fun experience and I highly recommend it.

C&O Canal Towpath - Paw Paw Tunnel Photos

Trail Information

Nearby City
360 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
April and May for flowering trees and wildflowers are best
C&O National Historical Park
Local Contacts
USGS Paw Paw, West Virginia;
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018