Washington, DC is not all hustle and bustle. The Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal begins less than a mile away from Georgetown Suites and runs along the Potomac through historic Georgetown, providing a picturesque trail for hikers, runners, families, and bikers who crave a fascinating dose of history with their daily exercise.
All you need to do is lace up your walking (or running, or biking) shoes, grab a cold bottle of water from your in-room refrigerator, and head outside! Our friendly staff loves the close proximity of the C&O Canal towpath and will point you in the right direction.
President John Quincy Adams broke ground on the C&O Canal on July 4, 1828 in Little Falls, Maryland, heralding the beginning of a new era of trade between the mountain regions of Western Maryland and Washington, DC.
Even though the canal took over 30 years to complete, the 184.5-mile waterway provided a means of transporting coal, flour, grain, building stone, and whiskey from the Allegheny Mountains to the heart of Georgetown. Mules pulled large cargo-filled barges along the towpath while steam and battery-powered gondolas traversed the canal as well, carrying passengers for leisure and business.
Though flood damage and the growing railroad industry rendered the C&O Canal obsolete for trade and travel purposes in 1920, it is currently maintained by the U.S. National Park Service and the towpath is the perfect location to stretch your legs and enjoy the outdoors.
Thanks to a major Georgetown improvement project launched in 2017, the one-mile stretch of canal that runs through the DC neighborhood is about to experience a transformative revitalization. The city portion of the canal will soon be the backdrop for outdoor marketplaces, art galleries and picnic areas, and your stay at Georgetown Suites puts you at the heart of it all.
Not many hotels can brag that they are just a few pedals away from one of the top biking trails in the DC area, but we can. Strap on your helmet and gear up for a great ride – the C&O Canal towpath is pure fun.
Right outside Georgetown Suites, the towpath surface begins as brick, then transitions to a hard-packed dirt and gravel surface – smooth enough to cruise on but rough enough to give you an energetic workout. Make sure to watch out for pedestrians for the first few miles, but once you get past mile five, you will notice a decrease foot traffic and an increase in magnificent scenic views.
Keep cruising past the seven lift locks between mile eight and ten, and if you are feeling up to it, try to reach mile fourteen and you will be rewarded with a gorgeous view of Great Falls, a section of wild rapids and tumbling waterfalls on the Potomac.
Cycle back before dark and grab a hot shower. There is nothing better than that tired, sore but satisfied sense of accomplishment you feel after an invigorating bike ride.
Did you forget to bring your bike? No problem. Just pick up a rental from nearby Capital Bikeshare locations. It’s only $8 for a 24-hour window.
Are bike rides not up your alley? Wheels are not necessary to enjoy the C&O Canal towpath. Lace up your cross-trainers, slip on your headphones and use the towpath like countless Georgetown residents do: as their personal outdoor track. There is something about running along the water and in the forest that feeds the soul as well as exercises the body.
Walking is no different – after a long day of business meetings or conference presentations, you need a refresh. Georgetown Suites’ location is ideal for executive travelers and interested tourists who desire all of the comforts of home, including a scenic outdoor setting to keep up with their fitness routine.
Are you captivated by the history of the C&O Canal? You have the option to take a relaxing boat ride down the canal and learn even more about this incredible historic landmark!
You will see exactly how the cargo boats made it from the mountains to the city when you go on your own mule-drawn boat ride. Experience rising in eight feet of water in a boat lock. Talk to park rangers about what it was like to live and work on the canal.
The National Park Service offers boat rides on weekends in the spring, summer and fall at the Great Falls Visitor Center at 11710 MacArthur Blvd., Potomac MD 20854, a short, scenic 30-minute drive (or 14-mile bike) from our hotel. You can make reservations in advance for parties of 10 or more people.