Wind Safety Advisory – 17-18 February

Level Walkers – the following safety advisory is provided by the park. Thanks, Steve

Dear Volunteers, 

There is currently a wind advisory from 10pm tonight through 10am tomorrow (February 18) for Washington D.C. and the following counties: Montgomery County, Frederick County, and Washington County. The forecast is calling for winds up to 50 mph. When the wind reaches 30 mph, volunteers are required to stand down. Therefore, volunteer operations for Friday, February 18 are suspended through at least 10am or until wind speeds (including gusts) fall below 30 mph. 

Please keep an eye on the weather forecast on Friday and plan accordingly. If you have any questions, please contact your park staff program coordinator. Thank you and stay safe!

Emily Durán Hewitt

February VIP Speaker Series Events

Hello Level Walkers,

The park has announced three more VIP Speaker Series events for February. Please see details below.

Thanks, Steve

To continue the 2022 VIP Speaker Series, join one of our Community Volunteer Ambassadors Ashley Baker for three informative presentations about the impact of animal transmitted illnesses and ways to keep yourself healthy while outdoors. 

Please see the schedule below for the date and time of each presentation. The meetings will be recorded and shared in case you are not able to make it. 

February 10th @ 12PM

PART 1: Healthy Parks = Healthy People: The NPS One Health Initiative

What is the One Health Initiative? Who am I and why am I passionate about it? Why is it important to NPS and the C&O Canal?

Microsoft Teams meeting – Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting | Learn More | Meeting options

February 17th @ 1PM

PART 2: Tick Borne Diseases: Nasty Little Bugs with a Big Impact

What are tick borne diseases? How do they spread? How are they treated and prevented?

Microsoft Teams meeting – Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting | Learn More | Meeting options

February 24th @ 2PM

PART 3: “When the Outside Bites: Rabies and Mosquito-Borne illnesses”  

A deep dive into the spread, treatment and prevention of Rabies and the West Nile Virus. Ashley will also discuss their impact on C&O Canal visitors and the wider community.

Microsoft Teams meeting – Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting | Learn More | Meeting options

Image – Culvert 142

C&O Canal Volunteer Operations Status Update

Hello Level Walkers,

The latest status update for operations on the C&O Canal follows. This is provided by the Volunteer Manager. If you go out there please be careful.



The park’s Chief Ranger has given the OK to resume volunteer program operations on Friday, September 3rd. However, water levels are still rising so please avoid areas that are prone to flooding such as McMahons, Dam 4, Culvert 82, etc. For a list of current closures and park condition updates, please check the C&O Canal NHP website alerts page –
All visitors are encouraged to use caution. Even once the rain stops, conditions in the park may still change quickly. Do not attempt to cross washouts or high-water areas. Remain aware of rising water levels in the Potomac River and neighboring streams. High water may impact low areas of the park, and conditions may change unexpectedly. Be aware of possible debris on the towpath, flooding, washouts, and falling trees.

Thank you and stay safe!

Emily Durán Hewitt

C&O Canal Volunteer Status – November 13

Hello Level Walkers,

The following updated is provided by the C&O Canal NHP Volunteer Program Manager Emily Hewitt regarding volunteer activity. As noted, please conduct your activities as safely as possible, or put them on hold if you are concerned about the increase in Covid-19 transmission.

Thanks, Steve

The park is monitoring the rise in coronavirus cases in Maryland & D.C. Currently reactivated volunteers will remain active but are asked to use prudence when considering whether to volunteer in the park. Areas of the park that see high visitation should be avoided during this rise in coronavirus cases. The park understands if any active volunteers wish to pause their volunteering due to health concerns. For all active volunteers, the park strongly recommends that they wear a face covering. Volunteers must also maintain a minimum of 6 feet of distance from other people.  

C&O Canal Update – August 5th


I hope everyone got through the storm without problems. Here’s an update from the park.

Thanks, Steve

Dear Volunteers,

The park fared pretty well during Tropical Storm Isaias. A number of trees did come down in the park, and both Billy Goat Trails A & C are closed due to fallen trees that will be cleared by park staff as soon as possible. When those trails reopen, the park will update the alerts page on the website.

If you decide to visit the park this week, be aware and stay safe. Check the park Facebook page before your visit for the latest conditions.

Stay well,  Emily Durán Hewitt

Image – hazard downed tree on the canal – photographer and location not identified

Cold Weather Activity on the Canal

Hello Level Walkers,

You’ve probably noticed – it’s been a bit on the cold side lately! Even though it is going to warm up next week, winter is by no means over and the cold may well come back.  Many hibernate in the winter, but some of us still get out there in the winter.  A few, like me, actually prefer the winter months on the canal.

If you are one of those who gets out there, the NPS wants us to be safe.  The following advice for safe activities on the canal is provided by the NPS.

Have fun if you get out there, but be careful!


As the Park begins to resume normal operations  we are in need of your Volunteer support more than ever. Unfortunately this becomes a little difficult with all of the snow and arctic temperatures we are experiencing right now. However, we know our volunteers are extremely motivated and have some of the best ‘can do’ attitudes around, so if you are going outside in theses conditions please be safe! Although parts of the park may resemble a winter wonderland it is still important to be aware of the risks exposure can cause and take precautions to protect yourself. Here is a list of some important tips to keep in mind while working outside in winter weather:

  • Layer clothing to accommodate for changes in weather.
  • Wear synthetic fabrics close to the skin. If conditions are wet, wear waterproof or water-repellent clothing (wet clothing loses 90 percent of its insulating value).
  • Protect the ears, face, hands, and feet in extremely cold or wet weather.
  • Boots should be waterproof and insulated.
  • Brush off snow regularly to avoid moisture.
  • Drink warm, non-alcoholic, caffeine-free liquids and warm solid foods to maintain fluid levels and preserve body heat.
  • Use the buddy system − work in pairs to ensure each other’s safety.
  • Seek shelter at regular intervals to rest and warm up.
  • Include chemical hot packs in your first aid kit.
  • Workers showing any signs or symptoms of overexposure should immediately come out of the cold.
  • Use extreme caution if you suffer from a health condition, are taking medication or are in poor physical condition. You may be at increased risk.

Upper Image – Culvert 140, Level 42, March 7, 2015

Safety graphics courtesy of the NPS




C&O Canal NHP Storm Conditions – 13 September 2018

The C&O Canal NHP advises that, due to the lightened forecast of hurricane Florence, volunteer duties in the Park can resume as normal. Conditions are still not optimal and there are risks that should be considered if you choose to venture out on the towpath. As always, your efforts as level walkers are purely optional and you should consider the risks you may take out there. There will be plenty of time for level walks later, when conditions improve.

Check for the most up to date conditions, closures and safety warnings at or Facebook @chesapeakeandohiocanal before venturing out.

The following guidance is provided by the park safety officer outlining some things to look out for post storm.

Falling Trees

  • Due to the extremely wet spring and summer, the ground is completely saturated and does not have its normal ability to hold tree root balls in place. As a result, large and small trees are falling over without any wind or for any other reason.
  • Avoid traveling under a tree canopy if you can.
  • Do not stop or rest under trees that are leaning. These are more prone to falling over due to ground failure.
  • Look for bulges in the ground around the base of trees. If you see a bulge, notify the park via the dispatch number 866-877-6677 or the hazard warning email
  • If the wind begins to pick up, get off the towpath and away from any trees.

Towpath Travel

  • The towpath is very wet and some area may be covered with slippery mud due to recent flooding.
  • If you are unfamiliar with the section of towpath, this is not the time to explore. If you must go, take an experienced person with you. Again, if you are unsure, stay off the towpath.
  • Make sure someone is aware of your destination and is responsible for ensuring your safe return.


C&O Canal NHP Storm Conditions – 11 September 2018

Level Walkers,

The following message is from the C&O Canal NHP. Please heed all cautions both before, during and after the storm.  Water levels are already high. It is important that we follow their guidance because conditions can be very dangerous due to localized flooding, loose or undermined earth, or tree issues.   Your safety is more important than your work as volunteers.

As noted below, the park is the best source for information. Visit as noted below or follow the park on Facebook @chesapeakeandohiocanal.

The park will be looking for volunteers to help prepare for the storm.  Contact one of the visitor centers (contact info is on the contacts page of Along the Towpath) for local volunteer requirements. Also, if you are interested in helping prepare Lockhouse 6 for the storm on Wednesday, 9/12, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., call 301-745-8888 or further information

Like you, I hope our park avoids serious damage from this storm. Be safe! The guidance from the park follows.


Due to the flood impact we are expecting and experiencing, volunteers should not be on the towpath at this time. However, we can use their help at park access points providing safety messages to visitors. VIPs must report in and out to their District Volunteer Coordinator.

As of 10:00 am, September 11, 2018

Increased rainfall and rising river level in the area has caused sections of C&O Canal NHP to close. Sections of the canal and towpath may become flooded and trap visitors. Do not attempt to cross washouts or high water areas. High winds and wet soils can cause trees and branches to fall.

Volunteers must receive specific instructions from their District Volunteer Coordinator before entering the park.

All visitors encouraged to use caution; hikers and bikers are encouraged to seek alternatives.

For the most updated information, please refer to:

Flooding on the C&O Canal

Hello Level Walkers,

As you know, persistent and heavy rains have occurred frequently over the last few weeks. This has created flood conditions on parts of the C&O Canal. Floods can create a number of issues in the park, and visitors are urged to take great care in the time after this and any future floods. Towpath instability is often not immediately apparent, and sink holes or collapses can occur in the period after flood conditions. The areas around culverts and bridges can be unstable, and often streams undermine the soil around their edges. The National Park Service responds as quickly as they can to assess and repair conditions, as well as to prepare alternate trails and markers, but this effort can take a great deal of time.

There is a significant breach on Mile 52, where Culvert 82 washed out. There may be other breaches or damage when this latest flood recedes. Please pay close attention to conditions and  follow park regulations and warning signs.  No level walk or photograph is worth risking your safety for.

When planning a trip on the canal, visitors should visit the park web site or visit the park Facebook site @chesapeakeandohiocanal for the most up-to-date information. The park responds quickly to questions posted on Facebook. The park is the best source of information because third party sources may post inaccurate or out-dated information. Safety hazards can be reported by calling 866-677-6677 or by using the hazard reporting system

The NPS has advised of the following closures until further notice:

1. All boat ramps

2. All campsites (HBOs and Drive In)

3. All lockhouses

4. All through-riders, hiking and biking

5. Harpers Ferry has closed the pedestrian bridge over the Potomac River (Access to the Towpath and Appalachian Trail).

6. Many parts of the towpath are washed out or have breaches.  Please use caution throughout the park.

7. And of course never, ever try to cross a flooded section.

Level Walker Safety and Volunteer Calendar Photo Submissions

Hello Level Walkers,

It’s hard to believe it is spring, especially with the treat Nature presented us with the first day of spring. Despite the persistent cold, I am already seeing increased level walks.  Thank you for that!

With the onset of the canal season this is a good time to review safety practices.  I will be sending out some general safety reminders in the near future, but for now there are a couple of new potential safety issues that the Park Service wants us to consider when we are out there.

If you come across what appears to be a homeless camp, occupied or unoccupied, during your level walks, do not investigate it, disturb it or attempt to clean up around it. The risk of bio-hazards and other dangers is too great.  You should call park dispatch to report the camp.

Please be extremely careful when you are picking up trash on the park. There is an increased risk of finding drug user materials or residue. This can expose you to very harmful and toxic chemicals that are being used by drug addicts.  The attached safety alert provides you with some of the dangers of trash pickup and some precautions. If you are unable to read or download the file please contact me at and I will send you a pdf version.

Annual Volunteer Calendar Photo Submissions. The following info is sent by the National Park Service:

We are now accepting photo submissions for the 2019 C&O Canal Calendar!

Photos of all parts of the park, through all four seasons will be included in the calendar. So if you have photos of historic structures, flora/fauna, visitors, volunteers, or just about anything else in the park, please submit them!

Once again this year, we ask that you submit your photos via Google Drive to To do this, compose an email and hover your mouse over the plus sign next to the attachments, click on the drive icon (resembles recycling logo), upload the photos you would like to share, and send to If you have any issues with this, please feel free to attach photos to a standard email sent to the same email address.

Please label your photo files with the name of photographer and location.

– Ex. BigSlackwater_John_Doe.
The deadline for submission is Friday, May 25th, 2018. If your photograph is selected, you will be contacted and credited in the calendar.

Above – Lock 39 detail, Levels 28 and 29, March 8, 2018

Below – Drug Exposure Safety Alert, NPSTrash Pickup and drug exposure