Park news

Paw Paw Construction and Closure

By November 25, 2020 No Comments

National Park Service will begin work to improve safety near the Paw Paw Tunnel on Nov. 25
Through hikers and bicyclists will use bypass trail until mid-2022 

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park News Release
November 25, 2020
For Immediate Release
Park Contact: Christiana Hanson, 301-491-6265, christiana_hanson@nps.gov

HAGERSTOWN, Md. — In order to protect visitors from falling rocks, the National Park Service (NPS) will close the northern approach to the Paw Paw Tunnel on Wednesday, Nov. 25. Through travelers on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath will be able to travel on the Tunnel Bypass Trail instead of through the tunnel. The NPS anticipates this closure will last until mid-2022 when construction to stabilize the rocks just north of the Paw Paw Tunnel is expected to be complete.

During construction, visitors can walk through the Paw Paw Tunnel when approaching from the south but will not be able to continue past the north end of the tunnel. The south entrance is where day-use visitors access the tunnel already, and it is the closest entrance to the Paw Paw Tunnel campground and parking area. The campground and parking area will also remain open to through travelers on the towpath.

Why is the NPS doing this work? 

Loose rock above the towpath at the north entrance presents a safety hazard to visitors. The rock also threatens to damage the boardwalk section of the towpath. The NPS will remove debris from a rockslide in May 2016, stabilize the rock face adjacent to the canal and replace 750 feet of wooden boardwalk that serves as the towpath in this area.

How is the NPS improving visitor safety?

The NPS will stabilize about 1000 linear feet of rock on both sides of the canal north of the Paw Paw Tunnel. This work will complement projects completed from 2017 to 2019 to stabilize rock elsewhere in this area.

What is the Tunnel Bypass Trail like? 

The Tunnel Bypass Trail detour is approximately a mile and a half long with an elevation change of 375 feet. From the south (closer to the Paw Paw Tunnel parking lot), the Tunnel Bypass Trail begins by crossing the canal and climbs 0.63 miles to the top (or about one foot of rise per nine feet of distance). On the downstream (construction) end, the bypass begins where the Tunnel Hill Trail meets the towpath near mile marker 155 and climbs 0.82 miles to the top (one foot of rise per 11.5 feet of distance).

For more information, visit the park website at

https://go.nps.gov/PawPawClosure