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C&O Canal @ Dam No. 5-Four Locks Hike

Adventuring's Easter Parade this year will take us up the Potomac River beyond Williamsport, MD to an unusually historic and scenic stretch of the C&O Canal. The Canal's Dam No. 5 was the target of numerous Confederate attacks during the Late Unpleasantness, none more determined than the one led by Stonewall Jackson himself in late December 1861. After reviewing the military actions around Dam No. 5, we'll proceed upriver past an historic mill to Four Locks, a very pretty section where the Canal took a short cut across an inconvenient neck of land. Our turnaround point is McCoys Ferry, with its own rich history. Total length of our easy-to-moderate round-trip hike will not exceed 7.5 miles, with virtually no elevation gain. Bring beverages, lunch, and about $15 for transportation and trip fees. Meet at 9 a.m. at the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Station.

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  • Craig H.

    A steady though gentle rain only slightly dampened the spirits of five Adventurers today. After a talk about Stonewall Jackson's unsuccessful efforts to destroy the Canal's Dam No. 5 during the disastrous Romney Campaign (of 1861), we set out along a section of the Canal sometimes called Little Slackwater. Here the cliffs ran right into the Potomac with room enough along the shore only for the towpath, thereby forcing canal boats into the river for a brief stretch. We lunched at a picnic ground along a very picturesque bend of the Potomac where the Four Locks sit back-to-back-to-back-to-back. Several historic structures here, including an old lockkeeper's house now refurbished and being rented out on weekends, add to this spot's scenic allure. After lunch we maintained a good clip to our turnaround spot at McCoy's Ferry, where Jeb Stuart started an October 1862 raid that helped to end George McClellan's military career. We made it back to Dam No. 5 in less than 90 minutes.

    1 · April 1, 2013

  • Jeff H.

    Today we had to pay penance to the weather gods for all the times the rain was predicted and didn't come or came just as we ended the hike. However, despite the constant shower, the five of us had a great time exploring the canal. Thanks Craig for leading.

    March 31, 2013

  • Bruce P.

    The rain did not dampen our spirits. Great leader and great group with which to spend Easter. Thank you.

    March 31, 2013

  • Craig H.

    At the parking lot for Dam #5, several miles upstream from Williamsport. I've sent you complete directions separately.

    March 25, 2013

  • Bruce P.

    Where will the hike begin in Williamsport? I would like to meet the group there. Thanks

    March 25, 2013

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