Experience 24 of 52: Riding bikes along the C&O Canal

Riding bikes on the C&O Canal towpath allowed the girls to visualize the book “Captain Kate“, purchased during Experience 1 of 52 at the Cumberland Visitor Center, that Susan is currently reading to the girls. The book follows a young girl named Kate and her step-brother as she learns humility while captaining their mule-drawn canal boat from Cumberland to Georgetown. Having heard about the canal, seeing an actual lock with the home a lock master would have lived in with his family and seeing the depth of the aqueduct provided context the girls could apply to help visualize the story.

We began our experience at mile 44 of the C&O Canal, a.k.a, Noland’s Ferry because it was the closest point to our home. As this was our first time on the towpath, we decided we would go as far as Kate and her seven-year old legs (and non-existent trail biking experience) would take us.

We headed south towards the Monocacy Aqueduct where we would have our picnic lunch before making the round trip back home. Grace led the way as if she were a veteran of the Canal and Kate, as she always does, persistently pedaled along determined to stay on the path and keep up with the rest of us.

After a few breaks along the way, we reached the aqueduct and enjoyed the serenity of the Potomac River over which the aqueduct was built. The girls learned that an aqueduct is essentially a water bridge and this aqueduct is considered the finest one of eleven built along the canal. Seeing and walking along the aqueduct also allowed us to envision the depth of the canal and to help us visualize why the draft of a canal boat was less than five feet when fully loaded.

After lunch at a picnic table near the aqueduct we decided to continue another 3/4 mile to Lock 27, a.k.a. Spinks Ferry. This was an easy ride and we were rewarded with seeing an actual lock and the house a lock master would have lived in, as well as several turtles living in the canal.

This experience was worth the time and the effort although the next time we take this adventure I think we’ll seek new sites to see by either starting at Brunswick, MD and riding five miles north to Harper’s Ferry, or starting at the Monocacy Aqueduct and riding about five miles south to the Marble Quarry. Riding along the canal was time well spent and an experience worth repeating. Kate was very determined and did a fantastic job with her biking, however, if you have younger kids who may not be as determined you may want to wait on this experience. Grace, at 10 years old, had plenty of stamina and a bit of an easier time since her bike could change speeds and was intended for trail riding.

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Categories: Educational, Historical Site, Recreation | Leave a comment

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