Sunday, September 30, 2012

C&O Canal Paw Paw Tunnel

Ever since we moved here nearly five years ago, Troy has wanted to hike the Paw Paw Tunnel.  The tunnel is part of the C&O Canal, which runs parallel to the Potomac River from western Maryland to Washington, DC.  When building the canal 200 years ago, they decided to burrow through a mountain rather than dig six miles of the canal along the edge of the river.

Today's weather forecast was very conducive to such a trip, so we drove two hours west in search of the Paw Paw Tunnel (named after the paw paw trees that grow in this area).
 The hike is really, really easy.  First you go along a level trail that leads from the parking lot to the tunnel entrance.  Julia was our fearless leader, showing the way to the tunnel.
 We're all ready to take on the 3,000-foot-long tunnel...
 ...for which you need flashlights.  Julia's ready to go!
 If you look waaaaaaay off in the distance in the picture below, you can see the light at the other end of the tunnel.
 One last look at the way we came in - this gives you an idea of how dark it is inside the tunnel.
 After making it through to the other side, we walked along the base of the mountain.  We considered climbing over the mountain to return to the parking lot (and our lunch), but the trail sign warned that the mountain hike was steep and strenuous.  That's not for our crew.  But we did spot some birds and frogs in the water along the trail...
 We hiked back through the tunnel, which seemed to go faster than the first trip.  Here we are, nearly two and a half hours (and about a mile and a half) later.  We certainly earned our lunch!


k. said...

This is SO cool. I really want to do this when I come back to visit.