Self-Guided Opportunities
Canoeing and Kayaking
Location Potomac River
Oldtown to Paw Paw
Allegany County
Launch Site/Directions Oldtown, Maryland
From I-68 in Cumberland, take the Industrial Boulevard Exit 43 B. Follow Industrial Boulevard to Route 51 south. Continue approximately 14 miles to Oldtown, Maryland. Turn right onto Main Street. Turn right onto Green Spring Road. Cross over the canal and stop at the tollbooth. Tell the attendant that you are launching a boat not crossing the bridge. Drop off your boat to the left of the bridge to launch. Then park back at the C&O Canal parking area.
Takeout Site/Directions Paw Paw, West Virginia
From I-68 in Cumberland, take the Industrial Boulevard Exit 43B. Follow Industrial Boulevard to Route 51 south. Continue approximately 26 miles to Paw Paw, West Virginia. Make the first left after crossing the bridge to the boat ramp.
River Trip Distance 10.9 miles
Time 3.5 hours
Water Conditions Class I
Skill Level Novice
Suitable For Families? Yes (with older children able to paddle)
Hazards/Restrictions All paddlers should understand that river conditions vary depending on weather conditions and caution should always be exercised. PFD's are required from November 15 through March 15 and paddlers are encouraged to wear them at all times. Prior to beginning a trip call for river conditions at 703-260-0305.
Potable Water All water should be treated or filtered
Natural Features Scenic Potomac River -- Floodplain shoreline rich and abundant in wildlife, including beavers, colorful wood ducks, great blue herons, red-tailed hawks, ospreys, and occasionally bald eagles.
Historic/Cultural Features Paddlers will parallel the historic C&O Canal, pass under five railroad bridges and may choose to take the opportunity to hike the Paw Paw Tunnel. While paddling on this section of the Potomac River visitors can visualize the important role this river played in history. It served as the main source of transportation prior to the automobile. The Native American's very existence was dependent on this river. They drank its water, fished it for food and used it to guide them from one hunting ground to another.
Canoe Rentals/Service Allegany Expeditions, 301-722-5170
Adventure Sports, 301-689-0345
Camping Primitive camping available at Green Ridge State Forest, 301-478-3125
Improved camping available at Rocky Gap State Park, 301-777-2139 or 1-888-432-2267
Primitive camping available at National Park Service, 301-739-4200
Other Points of Interest The C&O Canal is a 184.5 mile towpath that runs along the Potomac River.
Other Accommodations Rocky Gap Lodge and Golf Resort, 800-724-0828
Town Hill Hotel Bed and Breakfast, 301-478-2794
Rocky Gap State Park chalet and mini cabins, 301-777-2139
Fees or Permits Camping service charge
Camping permit required
Description This is a relaxing river trip that has several small ripples and rapid areas that give an added element of excitement. The adventurer that chooses this trip will pass through scenic areas of rock outcroppings and sheer rock cliffs. Along the trip guests can stop at one of the hiker/biker stops.

  • C&O Canal Companion (Mike High)
  • Land of the Living - History Green Ridge State Forest and Eastern Allegany County (John Mash)
  • Chesapeake and Ohio Canal: A Guide to Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Maryland, District of Columbia and West Virginia (National Park Service)
  • Maryland and Delaware Canoe Trails (Edward Gertler)
  • Rocky Gap State Park homepage
Recommended Gear and Safety Tips
  • Spare paddles
  • Knee pads
  • Hat
  • Water