Once again, we decided to stay close to home while preparing for the 184.5 mile bike ride coming up in June. It’s funny how we usually explore the more remote parts of the C&O and steer clear of the more used and populated areas. So…why bike from Williamsport to the detour? The truth is that there are a couple of ongoing attractions occurring locally, the first of which is the canal boat that was recently placed in the pond at Cushwa Basin. Honestly, expected to see something that resembles the Georgetown or Canal Clipper, but the small passenger boat wasn’t disappointing. Hopefully it will be available for rides at some point.
Moving down the trail, Lock 44 is a well-preserved canal structure. Many of the old locks and lock houses are shells of what they once were, but anybody who wants to see what the canal looked like in bygone days can do so by taking a quick hike around the Cushwa Basin area.
A few miles down the trail we encountered a unique historical sign relating events that occurred near the canal during the Civil War. The Potomac is a big and dangerous river, but apparently the Falling Waters area made for a good crossing point for the retreating Confederate army.
Finally, we reached the detour area with great anticipation. We planned on riding to McMahon’s Mill, in hopes of catching a glimpse of the work being done to replicate the old towpath. Unfortunately, the trail is presently closed about a mile short of the mill, but we did gather some information from a volunteer at the Williamsport Visitors Center. Apparently, a lot of heavy equipment is being staged in the area, and travel beyond that point is both dangerous and a nuisance to the workers. Meanwhile, a lot of C&O Canal NHP visitors will wait with great anticipation for the completion of the Big Slackwater project, which should be during the summer of 2012.