A marvel of engineering, the C&O Canal was designed to stretch alongside the Potomac River from the Chesapeake Bay to the Ohio River. Construction on the canal began in 1828 but was halted here in 1850 by the Appalachian Mountains. The park's protected 184.5-mile corridor includes a 12ft-wide towpath, now a hiking and bicycling trail, which stretches from here to Georgetown in DC. The Cumberland Visitor Center, also located here, has displays chronicling the importance of river trade in eastern seaboard history.
At the visitor center, look for the helpful Towpath to Town brochure, which shares lodging and restaurant options in eight small canal towns along the route.