My Dad and I hiked Paw Paw Bends

Paw Paw Bends is a six-mile trail that includes a long tunnel leading to a small waterfall, amazing views of the Potomac River, and a scenic hiking route that includes small plaques with historical information that goes up and down a mountain. The river gets its name from the large amount of Paw Paw trees that inhibit the area. My dad and I decided to take on the hike together.   

We left and headed for Northern Maryland at around 7 a.m. We filled the two hour ride with podcasts. We listened to the significance of Paw Paw Bends and how it helped keep the Western states and the Eastern states united during the earlier years of the United States. The ride had many views and we spent most of our time in the car driving on roads through small historical towns such as Berkley Springs.  

Once there, we equipped ourselves with backpacks that contained water, binoculars, and flashlights for the tunnel. My Dad and I took a selfie in front of the map of Paw Paw Bends then got started on the hike. The trail that is usually taken was closed down due to the need for construction; The trail commonly had mishaps with rocks falling on it. We took the detour trail instead. 

The tunnel was located a half-mile away from where we parked. My dad and I had predicted a small tunnel filled with graffiti. What did we get? A clean tunnel that even had the original architecture. The first time through the tunnel we kept our flashlights on; we heard the sound of water dripping, walked a long pathway in which you could see the door behind us getting smaller, and my personal favorite, encountered bats. Once out of the tunnel we climbed a giant rock and saw a waterfall. The second time through the tunnel we were brave and turned our flashlights off. I know this doesn’t sound like such a courageous thing to do, but trust me, walking through a damp, dark, and old tunnel that has bats for 15 minutes can be quite terrifying.  

Don’t worry, we escaped through the tunnel in one piece. 

After the tunnel we started the six-mile hike over the mountain and back. The first hiking we did was strenuous. 15 minutes into the hike and we were already stripping a few layers of our clothing. Saying the views were amazing is an understatement. The higher we went the better the views became.  

Once the harder part of going up the mountain was over we were practically skipping with joy down the other side. On the way down we read several informative historical facts. I learned the tunnel at Paw Paw is actually a canal that took over 400 workers and 14 years to make. The canal created an easy and fast trade route through the mountain.  

When we reached the bottom of the mountain we walked some on the C&O trail to see some of the historical water machinery. Again my dad and I took a selfie for my mom, then started back up the mountain again.  

I’m not going to lie, on the way back up the mountain my body started to feel the workout, but it wasn’t long before we were back at the top and making our way down the mountain again. Now this wouldn’t be a complete report on Paw Paw Bends if I didn’t include the embarrassing details. Towards the end of the trail I body slammed into the side of a hill while attempting to run. Now let’s move on and never revisit that event. 

Once we reached the bottom of the trail we made our way back to the car. Before we left though we stopped at a pathway that leads down to the Potomac River. There we had a rock skipping contest. Obviously I lost, but the important part is I didn’t slip and fall in the mud.  

Overall it was an amazing experience. My dad and I made a lot of good memories and saw some of the most beautiful views. I would recommend this hike to those who want to get out of the house while still being safe during Covid-19. I recommend Paw Paw Bends for those looking for exercise, history, and an overall good experience.