Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park – Great Falls Tavern

CHOH Great Falls TavernThe C&O Canal follows the route of the Potomac River for 184.5 miles from Washington, D.C. to Cumberland, MD. The canal operated from 1828-1924 as a transportation route, primarily hauling coal from western Maryland to the port of Georgetown in Washington, D.C. Hundreds of original structures, including locks, lockhouses, and aqueducts, serve as reminders of the canal’s role as a transportation system during the Canal Era.

In addition, the canal’s towpath provides a nearly level, continuous trail through the spectacular scenery of the Potomac River Valley. Every year millions of visitors come to hike or bike the C&O Canal in order to enjoy the natural, cultural, and recreational opportunities available.

Location: The C&O Canal stretches from Washington, D.C. to Cumberland, Maryland. Great Falls Tavern is located in Potomac, Maryland.

  • Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park MapField Studies available: Water Canaries, Watershed Watchdogs, Don’t Get Sedimental, Exotic Invaders, Potomac Gorge
  • Habitat: Lowland forest; river/stream bank
  • Terrain: Approximately a 10-15 minute walk from the main parking lot. Flat, even terrain to the stream’s edge; trail can be quite muddy in places. Vegetation at the stream bank, including poison ivy. Less than a three-foot bank in most places to access stream bed. Stream shallow under normal water conditions – mid -calf or lower.
  • Facilities: Restrooms near Visitor Center, 10-15 minute walk
  • Suitable for the disabled, though the distance to site may be a factor.
  • Additional Info: During the winter months, the park service drains the canal, making Water Canaries and Watershed Watchdogs difficult. Can accommodate up to 80 students, as long as they are split into two groups, one which will be doing the field study with one hiking, and then they will switch.


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