Bike Trails MD. C&O Canal Towpath Trail and Western Maryland Rail Trail

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Last updated 01/07/2015

Raw file: C&O Canal Trail 1-7-15.gpx (1.19 MB)

My wife, brother and I are bicycle enthusiasts who enjoy riding the ever increasing number of rail / canal trails mostly in the Northeastern US. We also do volunteer work for NOAA by recovering US Coast & Geodetic Survey Benchmarks. We often combine these hobbies while trail riding.

Unlike geocaching, benchmark hunting serves a valuable purpose by providing NOAA with updates on the condition of their 700,000+ benchmarks across the Unites States. Information on Benchmarks is available here:

We have been riding these trails for over 10 years now and I decided to share some of the .GPX files I’ve created. Of the hundreds of trails available in this part of the country, I selected these for their quality, scenic beauty, lack of excessive grades or hazardous terrain and overall riding or hiking enjoyment. These files contain tracks for trails and waypoints for significant features such as road crossings, bike shops, campgrounds, points of interest and USCGS benchmarks along or near the trail. These files were compiled using a variety of resources including:


Garmin’s Mapsource & Basecamp software

USCGS Topographic GPS Map Files. Available Legally at no cost for many States here:

Google Earth & Google Maps

Garmin’s Birds Eye Imagery

Camping Rivopom’s COMBINED US Campground POI file

Personal Knowledge

Various Internet & Print resources including:

The C&O Canal Companion by Mike High

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Handbook published by the National Park Service

The National Park Service C&O Canal website

C&O Canal Bicycling Guide

C&O Canal Trust website

Maryland Park Service WMRT website

Bike Washington’s WMRT web page

This file is the C&O Canal trail located in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park. The trail is the actual towpath of the old Chesapeake and Ohio Canal which runs 185 historic and very scenic miles along the banks of the Potomac River between Washington DC and Cumberland MD. Much of the original canal infrastructure is still visible including locks, lock houses and dams. The trail’s packed gravel surface is mostly level and well maintained by the National Parks Service. Narrow tired road bikes are often used on the trail but the surface can be soft in places during wet weather. Wider hybrid or mountain bike style tires are recommended.

This file also includes information for the Western Maryland Rail Trail, which parallels the C&O trail for 22 miles between Ernstville, MD. and Pearre, MD. The trail’s paved and nearly level surface makes it suitable for all types of bicycles. There are 8 crossover points allowing riders to switch from one trail to the other.

Anyone interested in Benchmark hunting can obtain detailed data sheets for each mark by going here:
The PID is the waypoint name symbolized by the color coded cube icons. Green= Recovered within the last 10 years. Blue= No recent recovery but set in a massive structure which still exists. Red= Likely missing or reported destroyed.

Be aware that the GPS coordinates provided in this file for benchmarks are scaled and can be off by as much as 600 feet. In most cases, the specific detailed information provided on the data sheets is necessary to locate the benchmark. The on line data sheets are easily converted into .PDF files and can be stored on most smartphones.

Free, legal, 24K and 100K topo map downloads for the states with these trails are available here: Segments of these maps covering the above trails can be loaded into many older handheld GPS receivers with limited memory by using Garmin’s Mapinstall program available here:

I’ll post more trail files as I update and clean them up.
I always enjoy conversing with fellow bike trail enthusiasts so please feel free to contact me with comments, questions, inclusions or revisions. – Enjoy!

*** Update Information ***

1/7/2015 – Added 368 waypoints. Added additional parking area locations and information.
Corrected track alignment in 6 locations

POI Packages

Change History

  • charlesd45 - Jan 17, 2016

  • bdhsfz6 - Jan 7, 2015
    1/7/15 Added 368 waypoints Added parking area locations & Info. Corrected track alignment