The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Park features a multi-use trail extending for nearly 185 miles from Cumberland Maryland to Georgetown (Washington, D.C.).

The Grand History Trail follows the C&O Canal towpath on which mules and horses pulled canal boats along the length of the canal.  The C&O Canal was preceded by the Patowmack Canal which operated from 1785 through 1828. It was created in response to President George Washington's vision of a system of transportation to the western frontier settlements and markets. On July 4, 1828, construction began on the C&O Canal as an improvement to and expansion of the Patowmack Canal.

The Canal's construction was finished 22 years later in 1850, at a cost of $14 million.  The Canal's maximum depth was six feet, but many places are only two to three feet deep.  There are 74 lift locks on the Canal and the distance in elevation from end to end is 605 feet.  The Paw Paw tunnel is 3,118 feet long. It took rivermen five to seven days working 18 hour days to complete a journey the entire length of the Canal by canal boat. Coal was the primary cargo carried on the canal.
The Canal ceased operations in 1924, after spawning countless jobs and municipalities along its route. The government acquired the Canal in 1938, and made it a National Park in 1971. Today, the Park is visited by more than five million hikers, bikers, campers and historical buffs each year.  The park has no specific entrance.  The towpath is, for the most part, a packed dirt trail.  Parking areas are located throughout the length of the Trail, but overnight parking is subject to the Park's online registration system.
The portion of the C&O Canal Trail included as part of the Grand History Trail passes such historical sites as Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, Shepherdstown, West Virginia, White's Ferry, and Great Falls.  The Trail leads to additional historical sites at Antietam National Military Park, Leesburg and Georgetown.