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Share your comments, questions, opinions, and advice on the C&O and/or GAP trails.
 
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C&O and GAP Merchandise
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Shuttle/Train/Other

 - 
LS Biker from Missouri on 1/15/2019 1:41:43 PM
Two of us are considering riding the GAP/C&O the fall of 2019. We think the best way is to drive to Pittsburgh and take the train or a shuttle to Washington DC. I am looking for recommendations which is the best way to do this. The train has a lot of restrictions as my bike tires are 2.25", train allows up to 2", handle bar max width 8.5", mine are wider etc. The train for 2 is around $150 and Shuttles are over $500. Is there a better way to travel one way to Washington?

 
Road rider on 1/15/2019 10:04:57 PM
Most mountain bike tires would exceed 2 inches . I haven't seen any comments on the train forums about trouble fitting bikes into the racks using the roll-on option. Deflating the tires would be a work-around. I presume you carry a pump and tools to turn your bars. You still have the option of boxing the bikes as checked baggage from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC.

 
Richard from DC on 1/16/2019 9:29:46 AM
You can rent an SUV in Pittsburg and drop it at Union Station in Washingon for about $156. That's a one-way, one-day rental.

 
Bwillson from Irving Texas on 1/16/2019 12:04:13 PM
Last year my wife and I rode from Pittsburgh to DC. Once we got to DC, we took the Metro to Reagan National and rented a small SUV. Taking the wheels off the bikes, they fit well. A one way rental was about half the cost of the shuttle.


Shutdown

 - 
Cenzo from Hatfield PA on 1/13/2019 11:22:09 PM
Any word from the trail on the effects of the government shutdown? Vandalism, garbage etc?

 
John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 1/14/2019 7:57:20 PM
I’ve been watching with disgust what’s taking place in the desert southwest. Seriously what is wrong with people? It’s free so let’s trash it! I just don’t get it.

Anyways, I have not seen or heard anything about the C&O. I suppose we’re lucky it’s winter which probably keeps the partiers away. I wouldn’t doubt that there will be some dumped trash found come this spring or when it reopens. This whole thing is a disgrace.

 
Anonymous on 1/14/2019 10:40:57 PM
I had heard it was still open, but as normal for the winter the pump handles will be off and bathrooms closed. Bikers were already expected to take out their own trash and they normally do a great job of “leaving no trace behind”. It’s the up bringing of certain people, they just don’t care and will ruined it for others. It is a disgrace that people do that.


Hiking

 - 
Jim from Germantown MD, on 12/10/2018 12:25:28 AM
Has anybody actually hiked the GAP, end-to-end, on foot? I've never seen any information directed to hikers. The campgrounds and accomodations are so far apart that I think hikers were not given much thought when the trail was developed. Do hikers and bikers co-exist on the GAP?

 
Tom from Robinson Twp, PA on 12/10/2018 9:46:27 AM
Hi Jim. I've spent a lot of time biking the gap over the years, especially the sections between Connellsville and Meyersdale, and I have seen very few "thru" hikers on the trail. (Maybe 4 or 5 over the span of 24 years) Lots of day hikers around Ohiopyle and Confluence, but never anyone loaded down with camping gear and supplies. Some nice camping areas near Ohiopyle, Confluence and Rockwood, but still pretty spread out. Even adding a few primitive camp sites would be an excellent addition to the GAP, but like everything else, I guess it comes down to funding. It seems that people intent on long distance hiking make it down to the C & O towpath which is ideal for hiking with camping areas every 5 miles or so. This trail system between DC and Pittsburgh has been such an important part of my biking life over the years and it would be great to make it more convenient for hikers as well.

 
Brad from Milford, MI on 12/27/2018 12:37:04 PM
Hello Jim,
I hiked the entire length of the GAP, from the Point in Pittsburgh to Cumberland, in September 2017. It took me eight days and I loved the experience, but I wouldn't repeat it on foot. For what its worth, I've since returned with my bike and found the trail much more enjoyable. The people were wonderful -- the bikers were generally very courteous in announcing themselves coming up from behind, and many, many people stopped to talk. However, the trail is definitely built to accommodate bikes, not through hikers. Bikes will end up outnumbering you about 50 to 1 -- you will be the tortoise among the hares -- and all the facilities are generally biking distances apart, which is about three times as far as needed on foot.

I ended up walking mostly 20-24 mile days in order to reach accommodations, which pushed my physical limits pretty hard. My pack was pushing 40 lbs because of all the camping gear & food I needed to carry, which was certainly too heavy. Even with good planning, I ended up boondocking on the side of the trail one night between Confluence and Rockwood just because the distances between facilities just did not work.

My first day was Pittsburgh to the hostel in McKeesport. If you can't get in that hostel, there is really nowhere to spend the night between Pittsburgh and Boston, unless you want to stop short and stay in one of the hotels in Homestead.

The second day, I reached Cedar Creek campground, which was great accommodations. The third night was at the shelters in Connellsville, which turned out to be my favorite night of the entire trip. Day four was Ohiopyle, day five I got stuck between towns & just roughed it, day six was Meyersdale -- I can't recommend Morguen Toole highly enough!!! Day seven I made Frostburg and the final day was Cumberland. Many of these stops are pretty much mandatory -- you won't find anywhere to pitch a tent between Connellsville and Ohiopyle, for example.

So, yes, it can be done, and you won't be alone. During my eight days, I crossed paths with three other through-hikers at various points. But the trail is definitely built for bikes, and you'll need some creativity/flexibility during your walk to make it work. Do your research on available facilities before you leave and never pass up resources along the way. The distances between towns can be very far when you are on foot.

 
Jim Seaman from Germantown MD, on 1/13/2019 1:56:33 PM
Tom and Brad, I very much appreciate your comments. Thanks.


Little Sandy's Truck Stop & Restaurant in Hancock

 - 
Merlin G. from Martinsburg, WV on 1/2/2019 10:44:05 AM
I have had many good meals at this restaurant. However, they need to take a serious look at some of their serving staff. If you come during the overnight and ask the waitress (Barb) for some fresh coffee, forget it. As a matter of fact, forget about any friendly hellos.

This morning I was in at 5:00 A.M. and the waitress had some dismal show on about murder. I asked if she could put the news on or the weather channel. (She ignored me.) I asked her at least 5 times, and she ignored me. She even went into the kitchen for five minutes with the show still blasting mayhem. Finally, I said something when I went to pay my bill and she started yelling, "You shouldn't complain so much." I said that I think the TV's should be for the customers. I then tipped the cook and left.


Pittsburgh

 - 
Paul Kletter from Pittsburgh on 11/3/2018 7:40:03 PM
looking for a places to stay in PGH, check out South SIde Travelers Rest. We are able to accommodate up to 30 bikers and are located 2 blocks from a trail head! Check out www.sstrpgh.com

 
Kieran Dwyer from Brisbane Australia on 12/29/2018 4:29:12 PM
Hi Paul, Sorry I never got around to thanking you and Mary Beth for the excellent stay at the South Side Traveler's Rest, last summer. It was the perfect place to start my Journey to Washington DC. Thanks for your advice and local knowledge. This was truly the best adventure I've ever done. I was planning a three day ride to DC but made it in four. I met so many great people along the way. The trail was smooth and very scenic. I didn't want the ride to end. My friends in Australia enjoyed the adventure through the cycling app Strava. I enjoy this forum and I plan to return for another ride. Thanks Kieran Dwyer


Camping on the C&O

 - 
PR Man from Myrtle Beach on 12/28/2018 9:15:21 PM
I'm literally brand new to this. I see a camping list for the GAP - but not for the C&O. Can anyone tell me where to find one?

 
Cenzo from Hatfield PA on 12/28/2018 10:20:28 PM
Camping on the canal is easy. Get a canal map and the camp sites are all marked and there are several within any days ride distance. (You CANNOT CAMP ON THE SIDE OF THE CANAL!) They are all first come first served except for Marsden Tract and Antietam creek. Marsden requires a reservation,and Antietam Creek can be paid for when you show up, but I highly recommend paying in advance to reserve a site.

 
Ray (webmaster) on 12/29/2018 12:36:53 AM
Good advice from Cenzo.

If you want to see a list of C&O campsites online:

1. Click the "Trip Planner" link in the menu at the top of this page.

2. For Starting Town, select Georgetown.

3. For Ending Town, select Cumberland.

4. Click the Camping icon (tent) so it becomes yellow.

5. Click "Refresh Trip Planner".

You'll see a list of campsites. For each item, you see its distance from the starting point (Georgetown). Of course you can change the Starting Town if you're not really starting at mile 0. Change the Ending Town to Pittsburgh if you want to see both C&O and GAP.

Click any item on the list to see it on a map.

Happy trails!

 
Ray (webmaster) on 12/29/2018 12:40:03 AM
Actually, to make things easier, here is a link to the trip planner which will already have the settings that I described above:

https://bikecando.com/planner.aspx?scid=3&ecid=4&svcs=|4|


Cumberland to Pittsburgh in one day

 - 
Kevin from St. Michaels on 12/28/2018 12:00:42 AM
I floated this out there on Facebook and seemingly opened up a proverbial can of worms, but does anyone have any experience/advice for trying the entire GAP in one day. I may attempt it in summer 2019 if I can get the fitness. I'd be okay with delaying it a year if need be. The mid life crisis will still be there.
Thank you for any and all advice! Kevin

 
Anonymous from Hagerstown, Maryland on 12/28/2018 10:31:24 PM
Kevin--I have the experience, and my advice would be... DO IT. I have done it in both directions, as well as part of a nonstop venture from Pittsburgh to DC. Was 55 years old at the time.
Please everyone, let's not debate the merits of "why would you do that...You'll miss all the scenery". I agree - - you will miss a lot of sights. But that is not the question that was asked.
It is very doable if you're in decent shape. You need not carry a lot of supplies. With proper planning, there are plenty of places to stop along the way to refuel, etc. I carried only a hydration backpack and two waterbottles. Food was stored in the backpack.
I rode it on a hard tail with a smoother tire, because... That's what I have. Your speed will probably only be about 2 mph slower than it would be on the road with the same bike.
If I had to choose the direction... I'd go from Cumberland to Pittsburgh. Yes the 24ish miles to begin the ride will be 20-30% slower than the rest of the ride. But, it's out of the way in the beginning. I found the 60+ mile grind coming the other way from Connellsville to the Eastern continental divide to be a grind.
If you choose to do this mid summer, you should be able to finish before dark. But if you find the need to be riding at night, a small headlamp like ultra runners use is adequate. I added a small handheld flashlight when I went from Pittsburgh to DC thru the night.
If you have any specific questions... Please ask and I'll try to respond.
More advice... Go back another time and explore the things you've missed. There is a lot to see.


Great Alleghany Passage Report (Oct 26-28)

 - 
Alex Ortiz from Silver Spring, MD on 10/30/2018 11:50:29 AM
Just wanted to share the latest on my first trip down the Alleghany Passage this past weekend! Took the Amtrak up from DC to Pittsburgh on Thursday night, and the plan was to do the GAP in 3 days: Pitt -> Connellsville (60-miles), Connellsville -> Rockwood (45-miles), Rockwood -> Cumberland (45 miles). Although it was so late in the season & raining for much of the ride -- the trail held up extremely well and the ride was incredible.

The first leg from Pittsburgh was great, especially once out of McKeesport. (I stayed on the West Side of the river out of Pitt on the Three Rivers Trail before linking up with the GAP). There were a few towns here and there, and I stopped for lunch in West Newton. Made it to Connellsville just before dark and spent the night in their wooden Adirondack shelters! (a great time)

Second leg from Connellsville to Rockwood was for sure the most beautiful part of the ride. Especially riding through Ohiopyle State Park -- gorgeous. We could really feel the climb toward the later end of this ride -- and again made it in just before dark as rain was pouring down. Was slightly miserable but we survived. Plan was to spend the night at the Husky Haven Campground but since no one was staying in their guest house, we got to sleep in the basement which was heated & much appreciated. Warm showers, washer/dryer, bathrooms & heat was well worth it for $10 pp. Grabbed dinner & drinks at the only place in town @ the Rock City Cafe -- great pizza!

Day 3 was a slow but steady climb to the Continental Divide. We first went 12 miles to breakfast in Meyersdale, where it was practically all-you-can-eat for $9 at the Donges Drive-In & Motel. Made it to the divide pretty quickly after that & then all smooth sailing down into Cumberland. The tunnels on this leg were something, with one being completely pitch black and the other sharing a track with the train. And even though it was in the 40s/raining for most of the ride, it was all worthwhile. Trail held up strong and the fall foliage was beautiful, peaking quite late into the season.

Hope this gives anyone out there reading this the courage to jump the GAP whenever they want! It's incredible.

-Alex


 
Richard from Washington on 10/30/2018 4:55:53 PM
Nice reading. I loved the part about the Husky Haven Campground. Sounds like it was truly a haven. I'll have to try Donges Drive-Inn and Motel.

 
Kym from Spartanburg, SC on 10/31/2018 10:42:17 PM
Hi there. I am planning on going in May. Question: I read your info on the legs of your journey (great info - thank you for sharing!) I was wondering what 40 or 60 miles feels like on the trail? I have done 45 miles on a road bike in just a few hours, and I have done 15 on a mountain bike on trails in a few hours. I noticed you pulled into your stops just before dark. How long do these legs take? I assume slower than a road bike but faster than a mountain bike trail?

 
rdw from richmond on 11/1/2018 6:28:46 PM
did the trains wake you up in Rockwood? we thought they were headed into our room. agree on how wonderful the GAP is.

 
rdw from richmond on 11/1/2018 6:31:13 PM
Kym, assume about 2 mph slower than your road speed.

 
Anonymous on 11/6/2018 5:53:05 PM
Haha - yes, woke up a few times to the horns in Rockwood. And yes -- the only reason we approached towns nearing dark was due to late starts from early morning rains. I'm a pretty avid biker, and on the first leg from Pitt -> Connellsville, I averaged 12.7mph over 70 miles, which was including lugging all of my camping & gear. Probably could have bumped that up a bit but I average around 15-17 on the road, without gear.

The second & third legs were with friends who joined me via Amtrak in Connellvsille, who don't bike regularly and were on their backyard hybrids. We averaged 10.1 for the 45 miles to Rockwood, and 12.1 for the 45 miles after to Cumberland. We definitely took Days 2&3 with leisure!

 
Tawanda57 from Gainesville on 12/28/2018 7:08:36 AM
Will be doing the Gap and C&O in late September 2019. So excited! When you say "steady climb" can you elaborate? I live and will train in Florida and want to make sure I'm ready. I'm 61 so will begin training January 1.

Thanks so much.

 
John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 12/28/2018 10:11:16 AM
From Cumberland to the Continental Divide is about a 1-2 % grade climb. It’s about 24 miles long to the top but it’s not really that bad at all. Then the remaining 125 miles to Pittsburgh will be slightly downhill though hardly noticeable. This is an old railway so there are no huge inclines/declines. It’s all really subtle. Pikes Peak it is not! :-)

 
Bikerfromtampa from Tampa on 12/28/2018 1:10:55 PM
It is not that steep of a climb. If you rode it for just a mile you wouldn’t even notice it. But, after a while you will feel it, maybe like riding into a 5 mph wind. You cannot coast at all. If you have only ridden on paved roads, you will feel the effects of not riding on pavement more than the incline.

You mentioned that you will start training in January. The amount of training you need depends on two things. 1) what your abilities are today and 2) how fast and long you want to ride each day.

If you are contemplating the ride I assume you already do some riding now. If you can ride twenty miles on two consecutive days right now then you won’t need any additional training for a six or seven day ride for the GAP and C&O.

My wife and I were 59 when we rode it. I also live in Florida and I am a casual (20 mile) rider and my wife and I had no issues riding the trails in seven days while we had plenty of time to swim in the rapids, talk to local townspeople, tour Harpers Ferry, tour the fort in Fredricksberg, etc.





Federal Government Shutdown

 - 
Ray (webmaster) on 12/27/2018 10:10:03 AM
In case you're wondering if you can still use the trail... yes you can.

From National Parks Service:
"During the federal government shutdown, C&O Canal will remain open. However, there will be no visitor services, and hazardous or dangerous conditions may exist.Emergency information may be shared on Facebook and Twitter accounts; call 911 for emergencies."


trail conditions to expect in mid March?

 - 
Megglands Best from Durham, NC on 12/19/2018 2:04:12 PM
Hi, my friend and I have been wanting to ride the C&O from DC to Cumberland for a while, and it seems like mid-March 2019 is the best time for our schedules. Does anyone have experience or advice for this time of year (even if the advice is "don't do it!").

We had hoped to camp, but the more I read the more that seems like a bad idea, between the freezing cold (would have to lug tons of gear) and the water pumps being shut off til April. So we're fine with finding lodging, but I'm wondering what to expect for trail conditions? For example, I know in the summer the tree cover and river keep the trail shaded and cool -- are these trees all bare in winter and letting sunlight in, or should we expect trail temps to be even colder than the forecasted temperatures? It seems like the temps range from 40s-60s during the day and only a little chance of rain, so I'm hoping the silver lining might be that we can avoid the numerous trail washouts. Is the scenery still worth seeing at the end of winter? Any other obvious reasons why I can't find a single report by someone who's done the trail in March? :)

Thank you for any insights you all can share!

 
John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 12/25/2018 5:22:03 PM
Most trips are taken from May to October. Depends how wet the winter was and if it gets time to dry out when the warmer weather finally arrives if a March trip is in the cards. It's a crap shoot really.

Last year may have been the worst I've ever seen it with regards to rain during the summer. So many people cancelled trips. Hopefully it's a one off.

It's probably gonna be cold and wet in March but you never know if it will get warm or not. I wouldn't go at this time personally as it could still be in the 30-40-50's if a late system comes through.

It can be done...hey people get muddy and wet in the heart of summer...but getting muddy and wet in March could be dangerous especially if you have a mechanical or physical breakdown and get struck in some of the more remote areas. I would just say proceed with caution and be prepared for anything.

John


Website improvements

 - 
Ray (webmaster) on 12/23/2018 9:29:51 AM
Welcome to the updated and upgraded BikeCandO.com!

If you've been here before, you may notice that the website looks different. All the same data, trip planning tools, and forum discussions are still here. But now you'll also find:

1. A new look and feel. This is the first "facelift" since the site was launched over ten years ago.

2. Better maps and mapping tools, more fully taking advantage of the features of Google Maps.

3. Improved fit and viewability on all sizes of screens. In other words, it should look good on your cell phone or tablet, as well as desktop or laptop.

4. More customized experience, with the website remembering the selections you've made on the trip planning tools, through the use of cookies

5. More features in the trip planning tools

I developed this new format on the Erie Canal site that I also run, bikeErieCanal.com. It was then expanded to the Cowboy Trail site, bikeCowboyTrail.com, with fixes and improvements along the way. Now BikeCandO.com is finally ready for the upgrade!

Any feedback is welcome; please send comments to contact@bikecando.com

Happy trails!

 
rdw47 from richmond va on 12/23/2018 1:05:52 PM
thanks for the website. so, far the first change i've noticed is having the replies right after the post. i like that. also following the erie canal site. hoping to spend some time this spring on that trail. again, thanks for your efforts.

 
John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 12/25/2018 5:11:32 PM
Nice work Ray!

I really appreciate the new look and enhancements.

Commenting is lot easier now also. Happy to see you added the Erie Canal site. A very helpful resource!

John


Sleeping Pads

 - 
Steve from Draper VA on 12/25/2018 10:14:52 AM
Hello all. we are hiking the C&O from Hancock to Harpers Ferry in June 2019. What are you all using for a sleeping pad? I know most of you are on bikes which means weight isn't as important but has anyone got a decent solution? I would love lightweight and affordable. I will need 5 of them SMH

 
kubotaki from Traverse CIty on 12/25/2018 1:51:23 PM
I purchased this the Outdoorsman Lab Ultralight Sleeping Pad from Amazon for approx $40. Used it on my C&O ride. Performed flawlessly. I'm 6'3" and 240 lbs. Worked beautifully.

It had great reviews on youtube, and I now agree.


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