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It is beautiful! I commute into D.C. on it every day. It can get a little bit messy when it's wet out (then I ride the roads in), but otherwise it is very nice. Basically a flat dirt road with the canal on one side and the river on the other (with trees in between). Totally flat--well, technically it has a 6 foot rise every mile out of the city--and once you get past the pedestrial traffic near D.C. and again near Great Falls (about 15 miles from D.C.), it is very peaceful riding. If you are riding your roadbike on it, I would recommend the widest tires possible.
 

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The further north you go the more mud there is.

It has been very wet for the last year so there is a lot of mud and damage to the tow path as you get way out of town. It is still rideable though.

The best web site for a detailed description of the tow path is bikewashington.org look for the C&O Canal link.
 
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