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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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Camping and Food Beta for GAP
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wnybubba from Bflo/Roc on 07/10/2020 05:12 PM
This is exciting but sudden! I recently [June 6-12] biked the Erie Canalway Trail End-to-end. The GAP had my attention and I figured I could easily jump on and do the 150 mile as I have all the gear figured out and ready at a moment. So... I just booked rail passage for my bike and myself on the only day [and last rack] I could find in the near future. So... next Wednesday I will be on the trail Pittsburgh to Cumberland.

I'm looking for info about camping along the trail. I'm open to suggestions in campgrounds, State Parks or trail-side. I'm cool with somewhat renegade camping wherever it is semi-acceptable -- that's how I did the ECT.

Also looking for understanding about food. Are there convenient stores or places to purchase food, water, etc. along the trail? On my recent tour I carried some food, but was able to eat well in towns along the Canalway. Hoping for the same.

Thanks in advance. Any other info any posters here care to share to make the tour safe and enjoyable, please sound off as I will have limited time to fully research maps, etc.
-bubba

PS - info about parking in PGH would be helpful. Deals available or special places. Hoping I don't have to pay $30/day to park!

 
yz from lake havasu on 07/10/2020 06:37 PM
i camped in connelsville,at the adirondack shelters. a;so there is campgrounds in ohiopyle state park.

i rode cumberland to pittsburgh camping only one night.


 
John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 07/10/2020 06:54 PM
WNYBubba! Welcome to the C&O/GAP forums. I’ve seen many of your posts on the Erie Canal version of this site. Welcome to the Dark Side! ; - )

The GAP has four free camping sites: Dravos Landing (Mile 122), Cedar Creek Park (Mile 110), Roundbottom (Mile 100), and Connellsville (Mile 88). Connellsville has a grocery store and restaurants within walking distance. The other three are a bit more remote and you need to either eat before you arrive or bring food to camp. I’m not sure about Dravos but the others have some Adirondack shelters if you can snag one.

Here’s a great map of the GAP:
https://gaptrail.org/system/resources/W1siZiIsIjIwMTkvMDYvMjUvMTUvNTQvNTIvNDUyL2dhcF9tYXBfd2ViLnBkZiJdXQ/gap_map_web.pdf no

There are other campgrounds but they are pay sites. In Meyersdale, the Festival Park is really Nice for $15 and has showers, real bathroom, and a Sheetz and a diner within walking distance. You can even pitch your tent on the Covered band shelter if you want.

The state park campground at Ohiopyle has a brutal hill to get up like a 1/3rd Mile Steep grade so I leave that up the person themselves if they’re comfortable taking that on. That’s the only one people have said to avoid but I’ve never camped there.

Food situation is like the Erie Canal. Towns typically have Restaurants and c-stores to get provisions. The GAP water fountains were all on during my just completed trip so that is a good thing. You will eat well with some planning. With Covid going on, you may want to phone ahead and make sure they’re open.

Scroll down in this forum as many threads address the parking in downtown Pittsburgh options.. I’m sure others will chime in shortly.

The beginning/end of the trail in Pittsburgh is the medallion in the ground the very tip of Point State Park.

You will absolutely love the downhill from the continental divide to Cumberland! Great scenery and eaaaaasy peddling.

I really enjoyed your recaps of your recent Erie Canal trip. So we’ll done!

Welcome aboard...

John W.


 
wnybubba from Bflo/Roc on 07/10/2020 11:12 PM
@John W. Thanks for the info and warm welcome! This should be a fun run... especially now knowing about the downhill into Cumberland. [I'm a snowboarder so I know the "dark side" pretty well! LOL]

Interesting that the free campsites are clustered together. Be nice if they were 50 miles apart. I should have time to research and find places as I again plan to ride about 50 miles a day with no stress [except for the heat that long-range forecasts say high 80's].

Also so great that food is pretty easy to come by along the trail. I enjoyed ECT and being able to stop for lunch and run into small towns for dinner take-out in the evening. That worked nicely, so hoping for the same.

So you just did the PGH -> Cumberland GAP? Very cool. Are you planning on riding the Canal Trail?
-bubba


Meyersdale and Ohiopyle
 - 
Art from Gaithersburg, MD on 07/09/2020 08:45 AM
Hello. We are planning day trips on the GAP in 15mi sections (30mi RT). We are thinking of Meyersdale, PA, and Ohiopyle as possible starting points. What are the trails like in those areas? And we are open to other suggestions as well as places to stay. Art

 
Steve m on 07/09/2020 03:42 PM
Ohiopyle to Confluence is 10 miles or a 20 mile round-trip. Good trails and beautiful scenery along the Youghioghenyy River. I prefer Meyersdale to the MD state line. This route takes you through the Big Savage tunnel, beautiful vistas and crosses the eastern continental divide. This route is about 12 miles or 24 miles round-trip.

 
Steve m on 07/09/2020 03:44 PM
Ohiopyle to Confluence is 10 miles or a 20 mile round-trip. Good trails and beautiful scenery along the Youghioghenyy River. I prefer Meyersdale to the MD state line. This route takes you through the Big Savage tunnel, beautiful vistas and crosses the eastern continental divide. This route is about 12 miles or 24 miles round-trip.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 07/09/2020 04:27 PM
Going the other way out of Ohiopyle, you can ride 17 miles (34 miles round trip) to Connellsville. There is a slight grade down to Connellsville. Connellsville is a larger town than Confluence with more options to eat or obtain goods, if needed. Similarly, going the other way out of Meyersdale, you'll cross the long bridge in route to Rockwood (~12 miles, 24 miles round trip).

The trail is the good (crushed limestone) from either Ohiopyle or Meyersdale.

While there are B&B's in Ohiopyle, they are often full since Ohiopyle is a whitewater rafting destination as well as a bicycle tour overnight location. If you plan to stay indoor there overnight, make sure you have a reservation before going there. Some of the places can be a little noisy with rafters.

There should be less problem finding a place in Meyersdale. I've stayed at both the Trailside B&B and Yoder's Guest House. Both were clean and friendly albeit I guess I liked Yoder's somewhat better albeit further downhill from the trail. Dinner at Morguen Toole is normally quite good if the restaurant is open.

 
Richard from Washington DC on 07/10/2020 09:09 AM
I agree with Steve. Meyersdale to the Mason-Dixon Line is a must ride. It's a slight uphill to the Continental Divide, which is most of the mileage outbound, giving you an opportunity to coast on your return trip. Plus the accommodations and dining are better. Ohiopyle is an interesting spot with the river and whitewater. But the accommodations are a little more rustic. If you want to pamper yourself, spend a night at the Levi Deal Mansion B&B in Meyersdale.


Hotels for GAP
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Wandering Buckeye from Englewood, OH on 07/09/2020 12:30 PM
We are looking for clean / COVID compliant hotels along the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP). We will have an inexperienced SaG vehicle to meet us at various locations. Our plan is to start in Cumberland, ride the first day to Meyersdale, ride the 2nd day to Ohiopyle, the third day to West Newton, and finish the fourth and final day in Pittsburgh. Because we have a SaG vehicle- we can stay away form the trail and we can stay in the same hotel for multiple nights. Suugestions? TIA.

 
Juan from Pacheco on 07/10/2020 07:55 AM
We stayed at the Parker House BnB in Confluence. The cleanest BnB I have ever stayed at.


Water in Early July.
 - 
Ryan from Pittsburgh on 07/08/2020 10:12 PM
We just rode the GAP and C&O from July 2nd to 9th. Water handles still missing at Purslane and Town Creek campsites. Also missing at Indian Flats. All the taps were off from Great Falls to Georgetown. . IMO it’s pretty bad to be shutting off water for COVID. Everyone still presses the button. It’s still over 90 degrees out and a health hazard on its own. Poor judgement and communication from NPS.

Trail conditions were good. A few stormy nights dropped a lot of branches between Hancock and Brunswick. Mosquitos were bad most camps with standing water in the canal. Raccoons were widespread and clever.

 
George McCook from Kennett Square on 07/08/2020 10:35 PM
How would Corona survive all of the iodine in the wells?

 
JM from Central Florida on 07/09/2020 12:55 PM
Thanks for that update, Ryan. Were there many other people out on the trails? How "crowded" were the campsites?

 
ST on 07/09/2020 10:07 PM
I completely agree about NPS shutting off water. Makes no sense to me. Thankfully water availability is generally good right now but I imagine it is frustrating to camp at one of the sites with no handle.

 
Juan from Pacheco on 07/10/2020 07:52 AM
We did the GAP and C&O from June 27th July 2nd. Few people camping at the free campgrounds. Not sure about the paying campgrounds. The closer to the parking spots or small towns the more people you will see. The closer to DC the more people you will see on the trail. Carry enough water especially on the C&O, I ran out of water between Cumberland and Little Orleans and a family camping at the Campground at L O save the day. Don't rely on the stores at L O they were both closed when we got there. If you take the Western Maryland Rail Trail out of L O a resident next to the trail sells bottled water out of a cooler.


Current conditions and water availability
 - 
ST on 06/25/2020 10:20 PM
Hi all - looking for recent reports of towpath condition and especially water availability. I realize that NPS publishes info on both of these items but I’m interested in up-to-date, real-world experiences.

I’m planning a solo trip from Cumberland to DC on Monday and am aiming to travel light. If there is really poor water availability or trail conditions I will consider postponing.

Thanks!

 
Bracken from Raleigh on 06/27/2020 04:37 AM
Hi ST,
I just completed the trail from DC to Pitt last week (June 12-20). There was no water between Cumberland and Hancock. You would need to refill bottles in Hancock because your next source wouldn’t be until somewhere just before Harpers Ferry when pump handles start showing up. From Harpers Ferry to DC almost all the pumps are working.

I wasn’t sure about water availability on my trip and carried 4 liters on the bike. It worked well for camping/ cooking/ drinking, and wasn’t too cumbersome.
Hope this helps!
Bracken

 
Bracken from Raleigh on 06/27/2020 04:37 AM
Hi ST,
I just completed the trail from DC to Pitt last week (June 12-20). There was no water between Cumberland and Hancock. You would need to refill bottles in Hancock because your next source wouldn’t be until somewhere just before Harpers Ferry when pump handles start showing up. From Harpers Ferry to DC almost all the pumps are working.

I wasn’t sure about water availability on my trip and carried 4 liters on the bike. It worked well for camping/ cooking/ drinking, and wasn’t too cumbersome.
Hope this helps!
Bracken

 
Anonymous on 06/27/2020 12:23 PM
We did the entire 184.5 miles in one day yesterday from Cumberland to DC. It had rained on Thursday afternoon, so there were standing puddles in the beginning of the towpath, and again for about 10 miles going into Riley's Lock. The puddle-dodging made it hard to establish a rhythm and definitely slowed us down. I would anticipate the puddles would be dry by today, and definitely by Monday, barring any additional rain. Most water pumps were open. We each started out with 2 liters of Gatorade in our Camelbacks. We filled up our Camelbacks twice at the pumps. We never came even close to running out of fluids at any time. We also washed the mud off our bikes at the pump. Bring your bug spray because the bugs started coming out in the afternoon, and glasses if you plan on doing any nighttime riding. Swarms of gnats flew into our face as rode the last 4 miles. They kept flying into my mouth, so I had to breathe through the nose instead.


 
John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 06/28/2020 05:55 AM
Same here. I got on the C&O at Whites Ferry and Indian Flats and Calico Rocks did not have handles. Bald Eagle Island did. Also Huckleberry Hill did not, Antietem Creek (pay campsite) had a handle but it wouldn’t pump (like the handle needs fixed). Killiansburg Cave was also missing a handle. Horseshoe Bend and Big Woods did have handles. I stayed at North Mountain and it’s handle is missing.

In short, do not rely on Pump water being available. There seems to be more handles missing than ones with them.

If your traveling the C&O, bring extra bottled water from town.

 
John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 06/28/2020 05:59 AM
Trail surface conditions are excellent! Whites Ferry to Sheperdstown has the lovely new surface and wow what an improvement. More of this please! GAP like smooth and zero puddles.

Sheperdstown to Williamsport is the “old” surface but other than a few Random mud spots it too has been pretty dry (no water puddles).

 
ST on 06/28/2020 06:30 AM
Thanks, guys, very helpful! I’m sure there will be puddles in spots given the thunderstorms in DC this weekend but sounds like conditions should be decent with reasonable water availability. I will definitely bring some extra but grateful to not need the whole day’s worth. Very excited for this trip!

 
Anonymous on 07/06/2020 10:30 AM
ST, how did your ride go?

 
ST on 07/09/2020 10:04 PM
Ride was excellent. Started at about 3:20am and was slowed down considerably by muddy spots in the first 10 miles or so but pretty smooth sailing after that. I found the NPS site updates on water availability to be mostly accurate. Weather was pretty good considering the season and I made it to Georgetown in about 16 hours, plus another hour to ride home. Great way to get out during all that is going on right now!

 
Anonymous on 07/09/2020 10:41 PM
Awesome! Congrats!

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