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C&O Canal Rewatering - 10 Possible Loops
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10 Possible No-Shuttle Trips – 5 Loops + 5 Out-and-Backs:        7 Jan 2018


Bearing in mind that water runs downhill (from the two feeder dams):


PRIORITY I - Restore water into “our” sections (Violettes & Little Falls Loops) [Level 4 and Level 22] soonest –


Violettes-GW Canal Loop:  (2.5 canal-miles) The run is from Violettes across the Potomac to the GW Canal, back across at end, return to Canal at Mi 21. Held by Pennyfield Lock, which is brand-new refurbished – and like all Lock gates, has an adjacent waste-weir so blocked water may exit to the river.  It needs to be replastered – (clay put into the prism) – a small leak at the Pennyfield Aqueduct has been trickling for over a year (I reported it to KB).  Pls replaster this reach this winter.    Two CCA access projects:  Blockhouse Point transfer/Mile 21 – across the towpath – Violettes put-in.   Parking at Violettes, Pennyfield


Dalecarlia Intake/Little Falls Loop: (0.3 canal-miles)

     [The run is from Lock 6/Feeder Canal. Down Z Channel, Potomac, Little Falls]  Held by L4 down in Georgetown, which is under construction.  When will it be done?  If not by Spring 2018, then press for coffer dam.  Can L5 be fixed – or fallen limbs removed from the brackish L5 to L6 reach?  If not, can access to the Feeder Canal be improved (field research for details)   With the Georgetown money bubbling, to beautify the first mile and re-start a canal boat, and already deeply engaged at Lock 4, this is clearly NHP’s first priority.  Three CCA access projects:  L6 Put-in, LF Takeout, Beaver Slide into the Canal.    Parking at L6, L5, Clara Barton Pkwy at Chain Bridge.


PRIORITY II – a new loop – Mather Gorge Loop: (0.7 canal-miles) 

      [The run is from Sandy Beach to S Turn, Rocky Island Wave, Wetbottom, Mather Gorge, the Chutes, out at Anglers]  Canal needs water in Widewater and down to the Anglers bridge.  Above that, a L15 fix is not needed (short portage) but reconstructing the top gate of L16 would afford water along its upper reach (0.36 mi) all the way to the entry to the Sandy Beach trail.  

Water Flow: This implies water coming down from Dam 2 at Violettes in a trickle through Pennyfield and Swains and the Six Locks (L-15-20) to fill up Widewater (obvious problems for NHP works in progress upstream).   On the other hand, possibly the rivulets entering the L14-15 reach are sufficient to keep it watered, the outflow going down the brook draining Widewater.   With its interest in getting the “Mercer” excursion boat afloat, the NHP will probably emphasize fixing Lock 20 so the passengers can be locked through.

Coffer Dam:  The next lock down, L14, is the top of the 7-Locks; this nice long section has the infamous “Log Wall” with the Dulles Sewer buried below.  Here is where the NHP’s projects will run into huge problems, meaning time and $$$$.   Somewhere below Anglers bridge but above the Log Wall at Carderock, a coffer dam would be needed.  

3 CCA access projects:  Anglers, Rocky Island, and Sandy Beach.  Parking:  Anglers


Priority 3 – another new loop - Carderock Loop: (1.84 canal-miles)

      [The run:  Anglers, Offutts Rapid, Yellow Falls, to Carderock]  held by L14, the last of the 7 Locks  While there is but one, Lock, 14, involved and it’s along a single level, there’s a huge problem at the Log wall/ Dulles Sewer.  Two CCA access projects:  Anglers, Carderock.  Parking: Anglers & Carderock (plus end of Brickyard Rd near Marsden Tract)


While the Sewer problem is being resolved:  Anglers to just above Marsden, for Anglers / Offut Loop,   play at Offut.  To return, carry the rocky ridge on the Billy Goat Trail, then up an informal trail  to the towpath, about 0.17 mile at est. Mi  11.7.  Then up the "mini-Widewater" to Anglers. 


Priority 4 – another new loop – Seven-Locks Loop: (1.6 canal-miles, involving 5 of the 7 Locks)

      [The run:  Carderock, Stubblefield Falls, to Lock 10]  The return: up Lock 10 and 11 reaches (0.2, 0.3 mi., resp.), carry Locks 12, 13, and 14 (a 0.2 mile lift), and then (1 mi) along the L14 reach to Carderock – any one of the three wooded parking lots.   Again the huge problem at the Mile 11 Log Wall/ Dulles Sewer just upstream from the take-out for this loop.  Two CCA access projects: Carderock, Lock 10.   Parking: L10 & Carderock                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     


      We would support reconstruction of the upper gate of 9 locks:  4, 5, 10, 11, 14, 16, 20, 21, 22  (L4 is under construction, L22 is done)  At each lock boaters would carry, so a small dock below and one above each lock and steps up the side to the towpath or lock-keeper’s house would be helpful.

      We need water to flow through 9 other locks:  6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19   For these we might explore having a minimal water-flow through the reaches above, with portage possibilities around the open lock-gates.


5 CANAL-ONLY OUT-AND-BACK TRIPS (double the distances for full loops)  24 Dec 2017



Widewater (Level 14) (1.1 mi) Anglers to Lock 15 & back. Water between Widewater and Anglers is now too low, so it needs a small dam placed below the Anglers bridge. – CCA access project at Anglers    Parking:  Anglers

Great Falls Tavern-Swains Lock (Level 20) (2.3 mi) – NHP will do this anyway for the canal boat. – CCA access project at Swains.   Parking:  Anglers & Swains


Lock 14 Reach (0.5 mi) Downstream from Anglers to the big broad bend.  Many turtles, Great Blues, Canadas & goslings in season. Even if the Dulles Sewer/Log Wall thing can’t be fixed.


Fletchers/Lock 4 Reach (Level 4) - 4.5 miles from Georgetown to Lock 5 / Feeder Canal.  Flat water canoe, kayak, and SUP paddlers from the Washington Canoe Club have trained on this section for years.  The concessionaire at Fletchers has a fleet of canoes and kayaks to rent to paddle this section.  It is an excellent place to teach basic flatwater canoeing and kayaking lessons. If L4 repair drags on, build porta-dam at Foundry Branch next to the waste weir.  CCA access projects at Fletchers, Dalecarlia, Lock 5.   Parking:  Georgetown, Fletchers, C Barton Pkwy at Chain Bridge 


Violettes/Pennyfield Reach (Level 22) (2 mi) – CCA projects at Mile 21 and Violettes.  NB:  It is already listed as CCA’s first priority in the 5 loop trips above. – so total is 9 “loops.”


The five above projects total 10.4 miles of restored Canal.  They are low-hanging fruit, as these are all sections that have had water in the last five years.


Additionally, though unlikely – not a priority:

Lock 14 through Carderock/Anglers/Widewater to Lock 15 (4 mi) If the Log-Wall & Sewer are fixed.  CCA access projects at Carderock and Anglers  This could relieve the parking crush at Anglers by taking advantage of parking opportunities at Carderock - to go up the Canal and put in at Anglers for up- or downstream paddling.


Boaters have less interest in Lock 6 up through Lock 10 (3.4 mi – 4 locks), as paddling upstream (attaining) in the Potomac is almost as easy as using the Canal.   However, it could be useful at times of high water.


MAPS:  Another fine source of Canal maps is the C&O Canal Assn's online map: 


  which has mileages and access points and attendant parking (with how many pkg spots) - and links to Google maps.  It goes on to Cumberland and so could be useful for attacking the whole Harpers Ferry ball-o-wax.


A good overview map up to Swains Lock is by the NHP itself:

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