John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 04/07/2021 11:54 PM:
Getting to Union Station is breeze! It is Union Station, you are right. DC is a super friendly bicycle city with tons of bike lanes. You can also ride along the National Mall which is surprisingly big. Just punch Union Station into Google maps. I have done this a few times. No problems.
I think other than rush hours, you can bring you bike on the Metro.
I stayed at hotels in Arlington near the airport. It’s a little bit away from downtown DC but I got lower rates out there. You might also get lower rates with Covid affecting how many people are traveling and they might be trying to entice people. There’s a hostel in DC also if you’re looking to save money. But it all depends on your budget.
The extra day is a good idea if you want that. If you were to have mechanical issues, any bike shop you contact should be able to come and meet you at a trail access point and offer you a shuttle into town for a fee.
I will defer to others on this forum when it comes to history, they’ll have some good feedback. I would definitely see Great Falls just outside DC along the C&O. Incredible rapids.
Don’t forget to take the Western Maryland Rail Trail before and after Hancock, MD. It runs parallel to the C&O for 27 miles. The paved trail is a welcome respite from the gravel or dirt paths and possibly mud. Don’t worry, its not cheating even if you’re a purist. I don’t know anyone that has done Pittsburgh to DC and NOT gotten on the WMRT! You can get on at Little Orleans, you will take a detour for 2+ miles that puts you back on the C&O (there a tunnel that is filled with a bat habitat and wouldn’t be safe for human passage), then you’re back on the WMRT until just about the end. Just after you pass mile marker 1, start looking for the interchange to get back on the C&O. If you reach the end of the WMRT, you’ve gone too far, go back 3/4ths of a mile for the switch.
In addition, when you reach Georgetown at the end of the cobblestone trail, it appears you have concluded your ride. But there is still 3/10ths of a mile to go! To reach the Mile 0 marker at Thompson Boat House, follow this video that got me there the first time I did the trail:
I always cap off my DC trip at the Lincoln Monument and reflecting pool.
If you have time, don’t forget to visit Gravelly Point at Reagan/National Airport right on the Mt. Vernon trail. The planes take off or land right over your head. It’s quite a sight.