According to the National Park Service there were two recent construction time periods for the Paw Paw Tunnel recently. The first one included slope stabilization at the north portal of the Paw Paw Tunnel which began in June of 2017 and was completed in July 2019 for a cost of less than $1 million and was funded by the National Park Service’s National Recreation Fee Program. The second, current contract, was awarded in September 2020 for $7.64 million and was funded from the National Park Service’s Line Item Construction Program. It will continue with addressing rockfall hazards and aim to remove rock and debris caused by the rockslide of 2016. Construction began in August 2021 and is anticipated to extend through winter of 2022/23. This work will provide long-term safe passage through this stretch of towpath. Visitor safety will be improved by removing loose rock and debris from above the towpath and by stabilizing the remaining rock to reduce potential rock fall.

To accommodate passing bicyclists, hikers, and any other outdoor enthusiasts the Tunnel Bypass Trail was enabled. It is approximately a mile and a half in length with an elevation change of 375 feet. From the upstream (parking lot) end, the Tunnel Bypass Trail begins by crossing the canal prism and climbs 0.63 miles to the top (or about one foot of rise per nine feet of distance). On the downstream (construction) end, the bypass begins where the Tunnel Hill Trail meets the towpath near mile marker 155 and climbs 0.82 miles to the top (one foot of rise per 11.5 feet of distance).

Wear sturdy shoes that have good traction. Carry and drink lots of water during ascent and descent. Plan for the Tunnel Bypass Trail taking between 1.5 to 2.5 hours depending on your load, fitness level, and pace. Cyclists are reminded that they are required to dismount along the Tunnel Bypass Trail.

Beginning the week of 09/26/22 and continuing for several months (weather dependent), the contractor will be providing FREE shuttle service along a portion of the Tunnel Hill Trail. They will be using Tunnel Hill Trail to haul the “scaled” rock material to a transfer point on Tunnel Hill Road. This service will be provided during work hours, anticipated to be 7am-5pm on Monday-Saturday. The shuttle service will run continuously at approximately 30-minute cycles during work hours when hauling is occurring. Outside of the designated work hours, the detour will be reopened for visitor use. Front and back bike racks will be fitted on the Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV). The UTV is capable of transporting up to four visitors with associated bicycles at a time. The construction contractor’s employees will assist with securing bicycles and associated visitor gear for the shuttle. If desired, visitors can strap their own bikes onto the racks.

Note: If you anticipate bringing a large group through the detour during anticipated times of shuttling, please make sure to include details such as date, time of day, number of people, and any other pertinent information.

Contact: or 301-739-4200

Reminder, the shuttle service is provided by the construction contractor at no cost to park visitors. 

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