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Become a Level Walker

What Is a Level Walker?

Level Walkers are C&O Canal Association volunteers who are assigned one or more sections of the canal to walk on a regular basis, monitoring the status of historic structures, checking facilities, reporting any problems to NPS, and removing trash. The towpath is 184.5 miles long. The park service is understaffed. They welcome the Association’s help to keep the towpath in good condition. This is a wonderful way to enjoy the canal while helping to maintain it. Level walkers must be:

  • Members of the C&O Canal Association
  • Willing and able to carry out Level Walker duties
  • Signed to an annual Volunteer Service Agreement with the National Park Service

If you want to become a Level Walker, the Level Walker chair will assign you a level, taking into consideration your preferences for the length of the level, location of the level, and special interests.

What Do Level Walkers Do?

  1. Walk the assigned level a minimum of once a year, but ideally 3-4 times a year, or seasonally
  2. Assist in litter pickup and other light maintenance along the level.
  3. Submit a written report in a timely manner after each walk. The report includes data on human usage, and comments on flora and fauna, the conditions of the level and canal structures, and the quantity of litter. Level Walker reports may be submitted to the Level Walker chair by regular mail or e-mail. The reports are the basis for the Level Walker chair’s report at board meetings and the Annual meeting. In addition, they are summarized in the Association’s quarterly newsletter, Along the Towpath, and a summary of the reports is provided to the National Park Service.

For more information contact:

Steve Dean
Level Walker Chair, C&O Canal Association
[email protected]

Level Walker and dog on towpath

Level walker and companion approach Lock 56

Read Steve Dean’s
Level Walker blog:

What Is a Canal Level?

For the purposes of the Level Walker Program, the 184.5 miles of the canal have been divided into 69 segments, varying in length from a little over a mile to more than 5 miles, but usually 2-3 miles long. These segments are called levels.

View the list of levels.

Report Formats

Submitting your Level Walker report isn’t as much fun as spending a couple of hours on the towpath, but it is an important step in helping the  Association and NPS monitor the condition of the towpath.

Effective July 2022, new report forms are in effect, and all previous forms are superceded.  Updated forms were sent to all active level walkers. Please contact Steve Dean at [email protected] for submission guidance or if you have misplaced the report form for your level.