The C&O Canal Towpath Oldtown Maryland 03.14.2012

DSCF1403CoverThis is our 14th Stop on The WooFDriver Tour!! I get so amped just looking and savoring all these Tours! I have had so much fun and the memories are priceless!! I encourage all to visit parks, trails, and other nature areas you can to experience yourself the beauty and awesomeness of mother nature. I feel so fortunate to also live where there are so many areas to do this relatively close by!! The ultimate, is again, for my dog’s enjoyment and the experience these places provide for them as well!! Hope you can appreciate the fun and feelings from my write ups, videos, and photos!! Enjoy!!

Today we are headed in Maryland (our home state)  to The C&O Canal Towpath!! This is a large trail with many access points, we are going to start in Oldtown towards Cumberland Maryland. Again Dave is routing our tours and feels this is a good place to start for logistics and other planning factors!! The crew today is the usual Jim, Chris, and Dave. We rolled out today around 9:30 and were trail borne around High Noon!! We had to ride some interesting mountain roads along the way to get to our trail head. This is always a beautiful way to start our day!! To get on the trail we had to cross a bridge that was grated with a small area of solid steel. We had to therefore take 2 of the dogs off, and Dave walked them across as I fit on the solid steel plating with the other two on the SuperQuad Low Ryder!! We than were able to gain access to the trail!! Today is very hot for this time of year, beautiful for us humans, but hot for the dogs. Temperatures were close to 80 degrees!! We were going to do a shorter run today and constantly cool the dogs!!

Click Here for A Link to This Trail!!

The trail is a lot of packed stone and dirt with a narrow grassy strip running down the center. It appears that this is a result from vehicle travel from the park ranger etc.. There are a lot of dips and uneven riding on this trail. it appears not to be to well maintained. Well, the dogs of course can handle it well, but we were in for a bumpy type of ride!! There was also a lot of tree branches and natural debris  all along the path to avoid and be careful of. This path has a lot of history. It parallels The C&O Canal which was built in the 1800’s and in used until 1924, to allow for boats especially geared for shipping purposes. Apparently they redirected the river to create this canal. It travels about 185 miles and goes from Cumberland Maryland to Washington DC!! The canal, still today has water in most places along the path we traveled!! Some areas were dry and the water was redirected by pipes. The water seemed pretty stagnant and rather cloudy looking!!

As we started out, we saw so many turtles!! It was incredible, I have never seen this many turtles in my life!! Literally there were as many as a few hundred all along branches and other areas in the Canal. They seemed to me to be Painted Turtles. Some looked over one foot in diameter!! Our first interesting structure we came to was an Old Lockhouse!! This is where the controller of the Lock, that allowed the ships to pass through, would stay!! We were traveling through some very quiet and unpopulated areas. Really a soothing ride(except for the bumps) but the day was actually heating up from this unusual hot weather in our area. We found a wonderful spot to let the dogs take a dip in the river!! They were loving it!! This is what they live for!! Running the trails, exploring the area, and water to cool down and drink!! It doesn’t get any better!!

The cool down really invigorated them. They wanted to pick up the pace now!! Again, I was going to contain their fire because of this early year warming!! Overheating is very serious for a dog, I take all precautions to avoid it!! So we continued trucking along with similar views for about 8 miles, again, with generous water breaks for the dogs. It was quiet where we were at, no road crossings and we only saw a hand full of people. At about our 8 mile marker we met up with the rest of our crew Jim and Chris.

Jim and Chris had scoped another spot we could take the dogs to and get them into the river. We proceeded to that cool down spot! This was a great area also. We had to walk a little ways to get there, but it was well worth it. The area we walked through looked like that the river runs through it when it rises!!

DSC03827CoverWe got back on the trail and proceeded another 3 miles or so, and came to the Paw Paw Tunnel!! It is called The Paw Paw Tunnel not because of the dogs, but because it is right near the town of Paw Paw West Virginia!! This is the most impressive part of the trail from what I understand!! I have never imagined or seen anything like it before!! It is a half mile tunnel through a mountain that the Canal travels through and the towpath is on the ledge of this tunnel paralleling the canal!! Well, Dave had done his research and said we were allowed in there with the dogs and The SuperQuad Low Ryder!! So we proceeded in this dark tunnel!! Dave, by the way did outfit us with a head lamp and flashlight for this expedition!! Good thing for that, because we needed this extra lighting!! As we got into the tunnel it was somewhat narrow and there was a barrier rail to protect us from falling down what appeared to be 15 feet or so into the dark canal!! It was wide enough for us, but the dogs on the side of the rail could see below and were apprehensive about proceeding. Well you know me by now!! I was prepared, so easily without hesitation, we were able to take those two dogs, (Chase and Jag) from that side, and move them to the other Low Ryder bike that Chris and Dave were riding. Then, with 2 dogs on my vehicle and 2 dogs on the other, we could continue on through The Paw Paw Tunnel!! Now all the dogs were running great, they were now on the inside and close to the wall of the tunnel, but through our training they were confident and comfortable this was a safe position!! They were also feeling good because the temperature in the tunnel felt like it was in the 40s!! It was like a refrigerator in there, especially compared to the warm temperatures on the outside!! It was dark inside,  you could in the distance see the exit and other end of the tunnel. It seemed like it was closer than it was!! This tunnel seemed to go on forever!! We were getting wet from cold drippings scattered along the tunnel also. We could see there were people coming toward us, which was a little interesting because we were tight as it was now, we would have to get by them some how!! Oh Boy!! The dogs actually sensed them of course, and made sure we knew there was something ahead!! We called out to the people ahead,  and explained our predicament that we were on a wide vehicle with dogs. They were very responsive, and we made a plan that they would squeeze by us!! We moved all the way over to the wall, which gave them about a foot, and we used our light to shine on the walking area for them. It went perfect!! We made it to the other side, finally, without anymore surprises!! The C&O Canal Path continues on!! The trail now turned into a boardwalk type path that we followed now outside of the tunnel, as this boardwalk was wedged between a mountain to the right of us with interesting bars drilled into the stone of the mountain to prevent rocks from falling off of it. How comforting:) On the other side of our rather narrow boardwalk was  about a 15 foot drop into the Canal, WOW!! Well, we traveled this boardwalk which changed to crushed limestone, for about a quarter of a mile,  this was really the most exotic part of the trail, this rock mountain area was awesome!! We decided it was time to head back since we knew we would need time to travel through the tunnel again!! We would also be at our mileage target for the day around 14 miles. We proceeded back through the tunnel, the same way, with 2 dogs on each vehicle. Everything went so well!! We got back to our truck around 5:00 and were all good and tired!! This Paw Paw Tunnel was the wildest thing we have encountered on our WooFDriver Tour so far!! WOW!! Be sure to relive this one with The WooFDriver by checking out the Video Footage and Pictures!! A well deserved dinner tonight was at the same place we enjoyed so much last week. The Black Hog. Again a wonderful Barbeque style restaurant. It is located in downtown Frederick.


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