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Share your comments, questions, opinions, and advice on the C&O Canal Trail and/or Great Allegheny Passage.
 
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Fall in Ohiopyle
Fall in Ohiopyle, PA on the GAP
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Is a front shock suspension a must have for the canal surface overall ?
 - 
BobK from McLean on 11/21/2020 04:59 PM
Just gave a Trek Verve3 a test ride on the canal to see how it handles without front shocks on some of the embedded rocky surfaces near me and found that its a pretty rough ride without front shocks, so just wondering if you have found that front shocks are a must have for most of the canal surfaces as the catch22 is, I don't think I can use a front baggage rack with a front shock suspension.

 
Willy from Alexandria,VA on 11/22/2020 08:43 AM
I do not think a front suspension fork is necessary to traverse the C&O.

I've traveled the length of the C&0 5 times in the last five years with the same no suspension bike (1996 Mongoose hybrid).

If anything- it's getting easier because the park service has been resurfacing sections with a crushed limestone surface similar to the GAP trail.

Go for it! Happy traveling!

 
BobK from McLean on 11/22/2020 09:52 AM
Thanks Willy great to the hear that!

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 11/22/2020 03:23 PM
Like Willy from Alexandria, I have made the GAP/C&O trip 6 times in the last six years on bikes without front suspension. Four of those trips were self-supported where the bikes were packed with tools, tent, sleeping bag, clothes, camp stove and small amounts of food. The bikes have been road bikes or modified versions thereof with wider tires and 36-hole rims. I typically use a handlebar bag on the front.

I’ve not felt the need for front suspension. However, maybe I don’t know what I am missing having not owned or used a bike with suspension.

 
WKR from Brunswick, MD on 11/22/2020 04:57 PM
I actually lock out my suspension forks when on the tow path. I think suspension is worth it for serious trail riding but is more annoying to me for things like the canal (bouncier ride).

 
BobK from McLean on 11/23/2020 07:39 AM
Well on my previous ride to White's Ferry I was using my Gary Fisher, which does have a front suspension and I never noticed any rough riding anywhere along the path, but with the Verve, it was pretty rough going in that stretch from 495 to DC, so this weekend I'll try letting some air out of the tires and see if that helps, thanks again all for the very helpful info!

 
GSK from Springfield Virginia on 11/23/2020 05:46 PM
Hi BobK, just a thought to keep in mind. We used to ride the trail every year on some old steel framed road bikes and had no real problems even loaded down. About 10 years ago we switched to aluminum framed Novara Safaris (no shocks) and have been riding the trail every Fall on those. But if we’re on a day ride we usually take our suspension bikes since the aluminum framed Novara’s are pretty stiff unloaded. However, when we load them up for our thru trips (with camping gear and the works) they ride a lot smoother. You might want to try your Trek loaded with gear and see if it doesn’t make a difference in how it rides.

 
BobK from McLean on 11/24/2020 08:37 AM
Actually I do plan on carrying 2(2 liter) bottles of water on the front rack when I do my Cumberland ride, so I'm going to carry those water bottles when I do another test run this weekend and also see how well the front rack holds up with all that bouncing around, thanks for the info GSK, all!

 
BobK from McLean on 11/28/2020 03:43 PM
Did a test run on the canal with 2(3 liter) water bottles on the front rack and that definitely smoothed out the ride on those rocky surfaces by about 50%, so that’s a big relief! but definitely got spoiled by those Gary Fisher Rock Shocks so I may rebuild the GF just as a backup, thanks GSK, all!


Post for photos?
 - 
Bill in Houston from Houston on 11/03/2020 10:11 AM
Hi, Admin. Didn't I make a post with links to my recent GAP photos? Is that allowed? I am sure that I created it, but somehow I cannot find it.

 
John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 11/03/2020 10:33 AM
Anything with a link gets checked first by admin before it becomes visible. Give it a day, likely even less than that.

 
Bill in Houston from Houston on 11/03/2020 01:23 PM
Hmmm. OK, will keep watching.

 
Bill in Houston from Houston on 11/05/2020 10:22 AM
Still hasn't shown up, so I tried again.

 
Bill in Houston from Houston on 11/18/2020 06:20 PM
OK, submitted a post with links for pics again. It's been a couple weeks and it's not approved. Google Images is your source for GAP images. :)

 
Ray (webmaster) on 11/21/2020 11:09 AM
Bill I apologize for all the trouble.

As John mentioned, some posts must be reviewed before they appear here. But there seems to have been a glitch in the program that notified me when posts are waiting for review. I'm sorry about that, but we should be good now.

I've done the following to make sure your posts get through:

1. Fixed the email issue so I'll get notifications again when posts need review.

2. I added your IP address to the "trusted" list, so it should now always accept your posts with no review needed.

3. I loosened some of the restrictions that flag a post as possible spam. For example, I realized your post might have been flagged as spam if it contained the word "gallery", because that is a word that appears often in spam posts (you can just imagine). But since your post was about photos, it might have contained a legitimate use of the word "gallery", so I lowered the severity level of that word.
Most of the other words in the "spam word" list are not appropriate to mention here (again, you can just imagine).

4. I added some extra diagnostics so that I can better see why posts are getting flagged for review, just in case yours does not get through again.

Thank you for participating in the C&O Forum, and again I'm sorry about all the trouble.


GAP Trail Section Closure
 - 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 11/14/2020 09:20 PM
Just a reminder below about the multi-month closure of a section of the GAP Trail outside Pittsburgh.

OCT 30 2020 | Winter Construction to Close 10-Mile Section near Boston

The Regional Trail Corporation, which owns and manages significant sections of the Great Allegheny Passage between Homestead and Connellsville, announced that it will close the GAP to all travelers between mile marker 120.9 (the Buena Vista trail access area and parking lot) and mile marker 131.1 (where the GAP crosses Liberty Way in Port Vue, near McKeesport), beginning November 16, 2020.

This closure is planned to last for five months – at least until April 15, 2021, and perhaps slightly longer depending on winter weather and the progress of contractors. There is no posted or easy detour, as nearby roads are hilly and narrow. We will keep www.gaptrail.org updated on progress as we receive updates from the Regional Trail Corporation.

This closure will allow contractors deployed by Elizabeth Township to install municipal sewer lines underneath the GAP for approximately nine miles. Long-term benefits include the replacement or repair of culverts that divert stormwater runoff under the GAP, and a complete trail resurfacing between Boston and Buena Vista.

Our best advice to thru-riders, aside from shortening your trip, is to arrange a shuttle between McKeesport and Buena Vista. The following businesses may be able to serve you: Bill’s Car Service (412-855-4484), Wilderness Voyagers (800-272-4141), or 2 Wheel Escapes (240-674-7626).


November trip
 - 
LHM from Middlesex on 11/01/2020 04:37 PM
Are there many thru riders in the month of November? Do the campsites stay open year round?

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 11/02/2020 07:40 PM
The number of thru-riders is significantly lower in November. After October, the weather becomes cooler and often cold. For example, today, the morning temperature here in Pittsburgh was right about the freezing mark and only increased to the low 40's by mid-afternoon. Indeed there was a dusting of snow at daybreak. In the higher elevations of the trail, I expect the temperatures were colder yet.

As I rode the portion of the GAP trail leaving Pittsburgh today, I only saw a handful of riders, none of whom were thru riders.

As for campsites, all the free campsites are available year round albeit, any available water at them may be shut off as winter approaches. As for the pay campsites, you should check with them ahead of time determine their status and services available.

 
John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 11/03/2020 10:35 AM
Has Big Savage Tunnel closed for the season? That is also an obstacle if it’s shut for winter, brutal detour.

 
Bill in Houston from Houston on 11/03/2020 01:22 PM
Trail will be closed from McKeesport to Buena Vista starting Nov 16, according to the Facebook page post today.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 11/03/2020 09:13 PM
Following up on Bill's comment is the following information provided on the GAP webpage. Note this is not a short outage but rather 5 or more months.



OCT 30 2020 | Winter Construction to Close 10-Mile Section near Boston

The Regional Trail Corporation, which owns and manages significant sections of the Great Allegheny Passage between Homestead and Connellsville, announced that it will close the GAP to all travelers between mile marker 120.9 (the Buena Vista trail access area and parking lot) and mile marker 131.1 (where the GAP crosses Liberty Way in Port Vue, near McKeesport), beginning November 16, 2020.

This closure is planned to last for five months – at least until April 15, 2021, and perhaps slightly longer depending on winter weather and the progress of contractors. There is no posted or easy detour, as nearby roads are hilly and narrow. We will keep www.gaptrail.org updated on progress as we receive updates from the Regional Trail Corporation.

This closure will allow contractors deployed by Elizabeth Township to install municipal sewer lines underneath the GAP for approximately nine miles. Long-term benefits include the replacement or repair of culverts that divert stormwater runoff under the GAP, and a complete trail resurfacing between Boston and Buena Vista.

Our best advice to thru-riders, aside from shortening your trip, is to arrange a shuttle between McKeesport and Buena Vista. The following businesses may be able to serve you: Bill’s Car Service (412-855-4484), Wilderness Voyagers (800-272-4141), or 2 Wheel Escapes (240-674-7626).

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 11/03/2020 09:19 PM
Typically the Big Savage Tunnel is closed the first week of December. That said, I have not seen a specific date for its closure this year.

 
DNap from Richmond, VA on 11/04/2020 11:05 PM
I just finished the C&O DC to Cumberland in 4 days from Oct 31 to Nov 3. All the H/B campsites are open, but they remove the water pump handles mid-Nov. I’m in Cumberland now and will attempt the GAP Cumberland to Pittsburgh on Nov 6th. From my research, there aren’t any free campsites in the first 80 miles out of Cumberland. Some private campgrounds close their tent areas on the last day of October and require you book a cabin, hut, shelter or some indoor space. With that being said, campsites are either going to be limited or spaced out on the GAP compared to the C&O in November.

 
Bill in Houston from Houston on 11/05/2020 10:16 AM
There is a camping area in Confluence, ~ 60 miles from Cumberland. Whether it will be open, I could not say.

Outflow Camping Area
1579 Mae West Rd, Confluence, PA 15424
recreation dot gov

I would think that the dude who runs Trailside Inn in Frostburg would let you camp there, even if all you do is slide money under his door.

There's Husky Haven in Rockwood.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 11/05/2020 09:11 PM
Regarding the upcoming winter closure of the GAP between PortVue and Buena Vista, there is an alternate, albeit not easy route between the two. First one can ride from McKeesport to Boston PA via the McKeesport Loop which is on the other side of the Youghiogheny River from the formal GAP Trail. From Boston you can ride Renzie Road to Greenock/Buena Vista Road to Buena Vista to continue on the GAP Trail. That said, these roads are rather narrow and the first 1.2 miles on Renzie Road has a average uphill average grade of over 7% with a maximum grade of 12%.

 
DNap from Richmond,VA on 11/07/2020 05:38 PM
The outflow campgrounds don’t accept any reservations until next season. I stayed at the Husky Havem Campgrounds in a tent. I think the best way to tackle camping the first 70 miles is to call the campgrounds to see if they are open, whether they are operating at limited capacity and what they will have available. Husky Haven was mostly closed down, but they managed to help set me up and opened up one of their chemical toilets and a jug of water since they closed their water and locked their toilets on Oct 31.

The Hiker/Biker Campground at Ohiopyle was supposed to open this fall but was pushed back due to COVID. I’m staying at Kentuck Campgrounds and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you plan on spending more time in Ohiopyle. That incline trail to get to the campgrounds is no joke. At least 25% incline for a 1/4-1/2 a mile from the trailhead to depending on your campsite location.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 11/07/2020 06:11 PM
Where is the “Hiker/Biker” campground at Ohiopyle? I’m aware of the state park there but not a free H/B campground?

 
DNap from Richmond,VA on 11/07/2020 06:19 PM
I’m not sure where they will put it. It’s mentioned in the GAP and C&O Trail guide as planned for Fall 2020. I called the park and they said they halted all plans on developing it due to COVID. I went through half of the Ohiopyle segment today and there is a space on the right if you’re riding from Confluence (on the south side of the park approx less then 5 miles from Ohiopyle) that has tables and looks reminiscent of the H/B pulloffs on the C&O. No toilets or water pump though. They may develop it there?

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 11/07/2020 08:56 PM
Dnap:

Thanks for that info. I need to look into it further. It would be great to have an H/B campsite in that area to make a 2-day self-supported trip to Cumberland a good option.

 
Bill in Houston from Houston on 11/09/2020 11:47 AM
.


Gap Trail Bikers Campground in West Newton
 - 
DNap from Richmond,VA on 11/08/2020 05:39 PM
This was my last stop for the night before Pittsburgh Excellent stopping spot for camping. They have a fully enclosed lobby/pavilion, kitchenette, bathroom and heated showers. The camping space is massive with grilling areas and seats to just view the river. The pavilion has a TV with cable to watch sports and other channels. Great setup that fully supports bikers on the GAP. Loved it here and would highly recommend!


The Crabby Pig in Cumberland
 - 
Bill in Houston from Houston on 10/26/2020 12:33 PM
Great location. Nice patio to sit on. Food was good. Not amazing, but good. Convenient bike parking. Saw many other riders.

 
Adama from DC on 11/07/2020 12:02 AM
Ate there at the end of my DC to Cumberland trip. Really enjoyed my meal. Sat outside on the patio and had plenty of social distance. Got the crab cake sandwich...great. Few Lite beers and some fries. Exactly what I had been craving.


Day parking Whites Ferry or?
 - 
Marta from Arlington on 10/31/2020 07:19 AM
Hello! We're planning to ride out & back from Whites Ferry north/west to Shepherdstown. Not sure how miles in my legs I'm guess it will be 80ish miles. So maybe a shuttle would be more enjoyable or just 20 out, 20 back.

Anyway, what are our parking options? Is it safe to leave cars for the day & where? I'm studying the map & it doesn't seem obvious. Suggestions welcome.

Thank you,

 
John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 10/31/2020 09:59 AM
Marta - if you’re not sure how your many miles you got in your legs, I would recommend an out and back and just turn around when you feel it’s time to turn around. If you’ve got the legs and you’d rather do the whole distance to Shepherdstown one way and shuttle it back, then that could be a good route. I’d call around and see about cost though, it may affect your decision. I don’t know of any but I’m sure bicycle shops would know.

As for parking at Whites Ferry, there is a huge parking lot next to the store/grill looking at Google Maps. You’ll be fine there.

 
Marta on 10/31/2020 03:09 PM
Thanks John. That helps. I looked at the site more & think I figured out more parking options If we can only do out & back I'm wondering if the stretch from Shepherdstown east is more interesting. The towpath is closer to the water from there past Harpers Ferry towards Brunswick. Thoughts?

 
John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 10/31/2020 08:21 PM
Both seem equally close to the Potomac but here’s what’s new in the last year or so. The part from Whites Ferry to Shepherdstown was just resurfaced this spring so it’s more like a crushed limestone rail trail rather than the dirt mule paths that existed before. I rode it in June and it’s so nice.

 
wkr from Brunswick, MD on 11/01/2020 06:47 PM
The resurfacing actually began in spring 2019. We had a lot of rain and flooding in 2017 and 2018 leading to extensive damage to the tow path surface in the stretch from edwards ferry to shepherdstown so that stretch was given priority for the resurfacing, which started here in brunswick. The resurfacing is a pretty slow process, 1-1.5 miles every 3 days or so. The results have been awesome.

 
Marta from Arlington on 11/05/2020 07:02 PM
What's the best place to park near Brunswick, MD? Thanks!

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 11/05/2020 08:33 PM
I would think the MARC train commuter parking lot would be a good place to park in Brunswick.

 
wkr from Brunswick, MD on 11/06/2020 10:10 AM
Yes, the commuter lot should be fine. There are residents who leave vehicles and trailers there all the time.


McKeesport Trailhead in McKeesport
 - 
Bill in Houston from Houston on 10/26/2020 06:24 PM
McKeesport was interesting, in that you don't pass through town, or kind of close to town, but rather through a series of back alleys and former industrial stuff, like they are trying to hide the town from you.

Which, I guess, is neither here nor there.

Just know that if you want to see some sort of flavor of the town, you need to plot your own route through town rather than staying on the trail.

During the season, the waterfront might be more lively, though, and that might change the feel.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 10/26/2020 08:08 PM
As a resident of Homestead and virtually daily rider of the GAP trail, I'm impressed how much of the trail, its sites and businesses you found and visited. I'm curious how many days you took to make the trip?

As for McKeesport, you were only a block away from what, arguably, is the main street of McKeesport. Lysle Boulevard. That said, you didn't miss much. Like many of the steel mill towns around Pittsburgh where the mills were shut down years ago, McKeesport lost the basis of its economy. What may not of been obvious is that you rode through the majority of that former mill site that was a major producer of steel pipe, aka tube.

 
Bill in Houston from Houston on 10/27/2020 09:55 AM
We couldn't have done it without you, Rivnuts. We appreciated the input from you and all of the other users of this site.

We did one day of riding around in Cumberland (and on the C&O), and then 6 days on the GAP Trail. We really wanted to take our time and take lots of pictures and see everything.

I wish I had thought more about McKeesport and had made that jump up to Lysle. Even if towns aren't what they used to be, it's great to see old buildings and the remnants of the old economy.

The old mill structures were massive, and we noticed that one still had the tubular name on it. I can't imagine what that town (and the whole area) would have been like in better times.

I took a few hundred pics over the 7 or 8 days we were in the area and posted them daily on Facebook. Would people be interested in those?

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 10/28/2020 04:49 PM
Certainly, pictures from your trip would be interesting. I'm curious what a rider new to the trail and not from the area finds worthy of pictures. No doubt you will have found items that we locals ride by each day and don't see or appreciate.

 
Cathy from Pittsburgh on 10/28/2020 09:41 PM
I would love to see your photos. I used to ive in Missouri and biked the Katy Trail a lot. I loved the rural and rustic flavor of the Katy Trail. But I am intriqued by the urban areas the GAP goes by and the old and usually abandoned mills and factories and coal mines. The ones at McKeesport were my earliest favorites.

 
Bill in Houston from Houston on 10/30/2020 09:25 AM
OK, I will make a separate thread for photos. :)

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