I’ve heard people consider this a tough stretch of trail (the excellent Bike Washington guide concurs). I’m not sure this is any more difficult riding than others, but the timing of your ride might be a piece of it. If you’re coming from DC and ending a second day in Hancock, this section is at the end of your day, and fatigue certainly is a factor as you’re hitting 50 miles or more into your day. Tree cover disappears for portions of the ride, especially as you approach Little Pool and Big Pool, an extended lake-like section of the old canal. Wildlife encounters in this area are outstanding, particularly birds. Keep an eye out for turtles in the water sunning themselves on stumps – they’re a fun excuse to squeeze the brakes and take a picture.

One other feature of this section is the option to hop off the towpath and ride the paved Western Maryland Rail Trail. The downside is you lose access to a few of the campgrounds, so be sure to check maps if you’re planning to camp on the C&O but ride a stretch of the WMRT! It runs parallel from MM114-141.


MM 110 North Mountain

MM 116 Licking Creek

MM 120.6 Little Pool