Heritage Hike features fall foliage west of Hancock
Hiker bus $10
By Steve Dean
Join fellow canal enthusiasts for a delightful autumn walk in the Hancock area on October 28th. This year’s Heritage Hike will feature an opportunity to go for a one-way hike on a Western Maryland section of the canal. A happy hour and catered dinner will be hosted at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Hancock after the hike. The after-dinner program will feature a National Park Service ranger familiar to many Association members, Dan Filer, for an informative account of the Chesapeake Watershed Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit.
Long and medium hikers will meet at the Hancock Park and Ride lot at 261 East Main Street in Hancock (across from the Hancock American Legion). A bus will depart promptly at 10:00 a.m. and will provide transportation to two drop off points for the long and medium hikers. Both hikes will feature spectacular views of the Potomac River and hills on either side of the river with bright fall foliage. The area has limited access points, so this will be an opportunity to enjoy one of the less visited parts of the canal.
The bus will drop the long hikers off at Lock 56 in Pearre, the starting point for a 12.9-mile walk back to Hancock. The long hikers will pass Locks 56, 55 and 54 and will be treated to the sight of Dam 6, which until 1850 was the western terminus of the C&O Canal. The hike will cover eight culverts on the way to Cohill Station, and a short side trip off the towpath to take a quick glance at Culverts 201 and 202 in Pearre or Culvert 193 near Deneen Road might be worthwhile for some hikers.
The medium hikers will start at Cohill Station, which was a hub of apple distribution in the heyday of the Hancock orchard industry. They will begin a 7.4-mile trek at this point. Both the medium and long hikers will visit Lock 53, below Cohill Station, and have an opportunity for another short side trip to Culvert 192. The route will continue on towards Hancock, and a spectacular view of the Round Top Cement Mill ruins (photo) and the Devils Eyebrow formation will be included along the way. The hikers will enter the town of Hancock, with its historic canal waterfront. At the old highway bridge crossing, near Buddy Lou’s Restaurant, the hikers will cross over to the Western Maryland Rail Trail for the 0.8-mile return leg to the Park and Ride. A handout of the hike route will be provided to the bus riders.
Short hikers will park at the Hancock canal access parking lot, near the C&O Canal Bicycle Shop at 9 South Pennsylvania Avenue. They will walk downstream 1.5 miles to the Bowles House C&O Canal Visitor Center, which will be open from 10:00 to 3:00 for the Heritage Hike, thanks to Rita Bauman. They will observe the Hancock canal waterfront and cross Culvert 179, the Tonoloway Aqueduct and Lock 52 on their trek to the Bowles House. From the Bowles House, they can either cross over to the Western Maryland Rail Trail and return to their vehicles for a 3-mile round trip hike, or walk further downstream on the towpath to see Lock 51 and then return, making a 3.6-mile round trip. A handout will be provided to the short hikers for their route options.
A happy hour will start at 4:30 p.m. at St. Peters Catholic Church at 6 East High Street in Hancock, followed by dinner at 5:30. The dinner will be catered and will feature chicken parmesan and a non-meat option of baked ziti with cheese.
During the program presentation at 6:30, Dan Filer will discuss the Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (CESU), which is a network of 15 partners, including the NPS, created by Congress to provide education, research, and technical assistance to federal program managers through over 400 universities and non-governmental partners. The type of research ranges from anthropology to zoology. The Chesapeake Watershed CESU was created in 2001 and engages nine federal partners and 30 universities/non-governmental organizations. This presentation will include a sampling of completed and ongoing projects that showcase the value of this network to both federal managers and the American public.
Costs: Dinner is $20. The bus ride is $10 if paid in advance; $12 on day of event. Please indicate number of dinner attendees and bus riders on the enclosed form, or register and pay on-line at www.candocanal.org/calendar.html. Reservations are required by October 16.
A word about bus fees: The Association strives to provide bus service to our members to enjoy interesting and worthwhile hike options. However, recent increases in liability insurance for bus operators has decreased the available options for service and driven up the insurance costs for the remaining operators. This results in increased bus fees for our events. While the cost increase is regrettable, it is a necessity if we are to continue to provide this option.
Directions to the Hancock Park and Ride lot: From Interstate 70 east or west, take exit 3 to Hancock. At the end of the exit ramp turn right on Md. Route 144 (East Main Street) and proceed 0.5 miles. The Park and Ride will be on the left, just across from the American Legion.
Directions to the Hancock C&O Canal Access and boat ramp: From Interstate 70 east or west, take exit 3 to Hancock. At the end of the exit ramp turn right and proceed 1.6 miles to the intersection with Pennsylvania Avenue. Turn left on South Pennsylvania Avenue, proceed 350 feet and turn right on the Berm Road. Proceed approximately 150 feet on Berm Road and cross the canal on the bridge into the parking lot.
St. Peter’s Catholic Church from the east: From Interstate 70 east or west, take exit 3 to Hancock. At the end of the exit ramp turn right on Md. Route 144 (East Main Street) and proceed 1.4 miles (or turn left out of the Park and Ride and proceed 0.9 miles on East Main Street). Turn right on North Church Street, then after 375 feet turn right on East High Street. After 350 feet turn left on Cemetery Road and parking will be available.
St. Peter’s Catholic Church from the Hancock Canal Access: Cross the canal and turn right on to Berm Road, then left on South Pennsylvania Avenue. Turn right on Main Street, proceed 0.2 miles and turn left on North Church Street, then after 375 feet turn right on East High Street. After 350 feet turn left on Cemetery Road and parking will be available.