Park Service taking care to maintain the C&O Canal trail

West Virginia

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. (WDVM) — The C&O Canal is attracting lots of visitors, especially with warm temperatures as summer continues.

William Derr used to live in the Maryland area before retiring to Florida; but it’s summer and time to vacation, visit family and friends back home and indulge his love for cycling on the C&O Canal.

“It is maybe the best ride. I’ve ridden trails all up and down the east coast. This has got to be one of my favorites, and I love what they’ve done. They’re doing an excellent job of maintaining,” Derr said of the Canal trail.

To the National Park Service, which maintains the canal trail, that is music to their ears. More than 5 million visitors a year enjoy the canal and that takes its toll on the crushed limestone surface and pavement. It is expensive to maintain. James Gann lives in Maryland and has family visiting from the Richmond, Virginia area this week. He is impressed by how little trash there is on the canal given how heavily trafficked it is.

“We did see a really old tire down there that a tree has growing up through it so it’s been down there quite a while. But the boat ramp is in disrepair on this side but I believe it’s still — it looks pretty good on the West Virginia side,” Gann said.

Gann’s young grandson, David, enjoyed his outing on the trail and is certainly paying attention to its trash maintenance.

“They were doing a really good job of picking it up and not polluting,” said Gann.

His sister, Sarah, said that the National Park Service had her in mind when they designed the canal for visitors in the first place.

“It’s just so wonderful that they made a bike path,” Sarah said. “It shows history and has cycling and running available, my two favorite things.”

A wide range of maintenance projects is in the works to keep this group and others like them coming back to the trail. Many of these projects for improvement are scheduled for 2023. The Park Service is restoring many of the “lock-keeper” homes on the canal and making them available for nightly stays.

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