Poirot at the C&O Canal
Bethesda Dog Walk with Poirot

Where is a great place in Bethesda to walk your dog? The C&O Canal is a perfect place for a Bethesda dog walk! This is a beautiful time of the year – the days are warm but not hot and the nights are cooling down.  Sunday was a perfect fall day and it made me want to take a long walk with my standard poodle, Poirot.   It is harder and harder to find places that are easy to enjoy with a big dog on a Bethesda dog walk.

Downtown Bethesda is okay, but the sidewalks are crowded with baby strollers and lots of people and a good number of other dogs – and diners enjoying the sunshine at an outdoor cafe table.


After picking up bagels for Sunday breakfast at Bethesda Bagels, I returned home, declaring that today was the day to walk Poirot on the C&O Canal at Great Falls in Potomac MD! It is an easy destination from our house – you head out MacArthur Boulevard toward Potomac past the David Taylor facility and just keep driving until you come to the gate house at the entrance to the Park.  A quick flash of our annual pass and we are in!

View of the Barge and Park Visitor Center by Lise Howe
Dog Walk in Bethesda along the C&O Canal

There are several paths that we have enjoyed taking along the C&O Canal such as the Billy Goat Trail or the trail to the Overlook where you can see some spectacular views of the Potomac River, but the Billy Goat Trail was tough enough for me, much less my twelve year old dog and the Overlook path does not allow dogs any more.  Even so, there is lots to see on the tow path like seasonal wild flowers and turtles sunning themselves on the banks of the canal.

If you are making this trip with small children in addition to your dog, you might want to bring some dry bread along to feed the ducks and geese that are always there, looking for a free meal.  All in all, it makes a great Bethesda dog walk on a Sunday morning!

After a nice long trek down the tow path to Wide Water, we turn around and head for home. Depending on what else is going on later in the afternoon, sometimes we stop for a cup of coffee or a treat at the little snack at the little kiosk there beside the parking lot.  In addition to water and coffee he sells light snacks and ice creams – the perfect end to a pleasant walk along the canal with your best friend. I am always thirsty after my Bethesda dog walk! and Poirot wants a drink of water too!


Charles F. Mercer barge on the C&O Canal - Lise Howe
Charles F. Mercer barge along the C&O Canal

Another wonderful thing to do at the canal is to take the barge ride which really illustrates the original purpose of the canal – to move goods and produce from the end port at Georgetown up into Western Maryland.  This is like a trip back in time to the 1870’s!  The Charles F. Mercer is a mule drawn barge that holds 65 people and takes you on an hour long ride through the canal at Great Falls MD.  You get to go through the locks – just like in the Panama Canal but a little smaller! – and hear park rangers in period clothing explaining what life was like along the canal in the post Civil War era.

The cost of the tickets are $8.00 for adults, $6.00 for seniors and $5.00 for children ages 4-15.  Children aged three and under ride free.  You can buy the tickets and board the boat at the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center at 11710 MacArthur Blvd., Potomac MD 20854.  I don’t think that they will let a dog on the barge however!


If you are relocating to Bethesda MD with your dog and/or family and need help with your home search, just give the Lise Howe Group a call at 240-401-5577 or email us at Lise@lisehowe.com.  If you want to start your home search right now, just click here to see all the homes on the market!