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Electric bikes
NW from Irwin on 03/17/2019 07:35 AM
Are electric bikes allowed on the trail?

Rivnuts from Munhall, PA on 03/17/2019 04:06 PM
Of course, "motorized vehicles" are prohibited on the trail, but I am unaware of any prohibitions of ebikes and have seen several on the trail. That said, there isn't a whole lot of need as the grades are very slight and gradual.

Cenzo from Hatfield PA on 03/18/2019 08:05 AM
I must say I am flat out against ebikes on the trail. I would be OK on a permit only basis based on disability for example but otherwise these things move way to fast compared to a pedal bike or hike and I think they should not be allowed. Just my 2 cents.

martyfromTampa from Tampa on 03/18/2019 09:38 AM
I used to be against electric bikes on the trail. But then I met an older gentleman and his wife on that paved trail and spoke with him for a while. He said he used to ride bikes a lot and wanted to keep riding. Apparently, with these EBs you can “dial in” how much work you want to do. So, without the EB he wouldn’t be riding at all. With the EB he can still enjoy life on his bicycle. I don’t think it is safe to ride an EB fast in the C&O or GAP. After talking to him, I changed my mind.

Stillriding from Pittsburgh on 03/18/2019 10:04 AM
E-Bikes are very legal to ride on the trail. Everyone on a E-Bike or regular bike has to obey all the same rules. The speed on the trail is 15 mph. With that said, yes,I have seen E-Bikes go over that but also regular bikes go over that. When you see someone on an E-bike chances are they are older, heaver, or may have a disability that you may not even be able to see. The point is these bikes cost more money and they are spending it so they to can still enjoy the trail or maybe just being able to ride a bike again. I don't like being passed but if a person calls the pass out before hand and for the most part the trail is plenty wide enough, it's all good. And yes, I have an E-Bike,and two regular bikes and depending on the ride location, length, time and how I feel that day, then I decide on which bike I take. It's never just because I want to go fast, however, I do enjoy being able to pass people again at 67 which does not happen on my regular bikes. Hope this helps. Any comments are welcomed. Enjoy the ride.

tl from robinson pa on 03/18/2019 11:02 AM
I have very mixed opinions pertaining to e-bikes. I have been through the C & O trail a number of times now, and have come to feel an almost spiritual reverence for the sights, smells and sounds when passing through this historic and majestic place. The thought of any type of electrically propelled bike seemed to be inappropriate for these types of trails.
I kind of changed that outlook one day on a trip from DC to Pgh when I happened to meet an elderly gentleman who was slowly making his way up the towpath riding on an electric wheelchair-type scooter. He said he was 86 years old and he had been hiking the C & O since the 1960's. Bad knees and hips now prevent him from walking the trail. As he looked around as he talked to me, I saw the same reverence in his eyes and his words for the trail that I felt. Apparently his grandson drops him off at a trailhead, and he tries to make it to the next trailhead to be picked up. How fantastic to be 86 and still set goals. E-bikes should be allowed possibly with special permits to limit the use to people who really need them.

Sunbiker from Santa Monica on 03/19/2019 01:39 AM
Been reading the recent posts re: e-bikes. I’m nearing age 70 and have biked all around the world. Still love to ride, but putting big mileage on day after day for a week or two or even more is getting difficult. Just bought an e-bike a few weeks ago. For me, it’s not about the speed, it’s about endurance and continuing to enjoy what I love most. Biking!!! Still have my regular road and mtn bikes, just another option when needed. (I admit I felt a little guilty when I first bought it, but it sure feels great to stay in the saddle longer).

Rebecca from New Bern, NC on 09/18/2019 03:31 PM
Are electric bikes allowed on the C&O Canal NHP Towpath?

Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 09/18/2019 06:27 PM
As I recently noted an earlier forum thread on e-bikes the National Park Service as of August 30, 2019 has adopted a new policy that generally permits e-bikes within the national parks albeit subject to any specifically different policies of the individual parks. A search of the NPS webpage for the C&O Canal Towpath does not appear to identify any restrictions to the use of e-bikes therein.

C&O from Cumberland to DC
Adventure Seekers from Fredericksburg VA on 09/12/2019 08:48 PM
My Friend and I are making the trip on the C&O. We do little day trips, but have never done something like this. Seeking recommendations on hotels versus camping, packing food versus restaurants, packing essentials, daily mileage expectations. We are planning this for the end of the month.

KBLS on 09/13/2019 04:31 PM
Those are all great questions to ask and research. Three of us will be riding the C&O and the GAP at the end of the month too. It will be our first time. We are in our 60's but ride quite a bit. We decided to camp every other day and spending the off nights in inexpensive motels. We plan on eating at restaurants along the way but will keep snacks and one meal with us as a precaution. You never know what might happen along the way.

We bike packed the KATY Trail, here in Missouri a couple of years ago and went between 50-70 per day. My advice is to ride at a comfortable pace and enjoy the trip. You can always find packing lists on line but I found www.pedalshift.net very helpful.

Items to not forget are food, plenty of water, bike repair tools, pump, patch kit, spare tube(s) and the ability to do minor repairs.

I love riding these types of trails and Ray (webmaster) provides an excellent forum/website for us trail riders.

Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 09/13/2019 07:09 PM
Having ridden the C&O a few times, here are some thoughts for consideration:

* For your first trip on the C&O, I would suggest that you avail yourself of hotels or B&B's especially if the weather predictions are not favorable. While there are several free hiker/biker campsites along the towpath, they are primitive. If camping, the pay state parks along the way are arguably more hospitable. Having ridden the trail once, you'll have a greater understanding of the trip to choose what you'd like to do for the next time you do it.
* Unless you want to carry a lot of food, you'll find enough cities along the route to find meals as you go. You may want to pick up an extra meal, when stopping to avoid making numerous stops or having to travel some distance off the trail to get food.
* The previous respondent's packing recommendations are spot on. I would add to look at the weather forecast to determine if some cooler weather clothing would be desirable for early morning riding or overnight camping.
* The most common daily mileage is around 50 miles. Without any climbing and more riding hours during the day, you can do more miles to shorten the duration of your trip.
* Lastly, take a little time to read about the history and points of interests along the trail before departing to better enjoy the trip and its history.

John from Pittsburgh, PA on 09/13/2019 08:46 PM
Pick up the "Trail Guide" book for $10 from the Great Allegheny Passage store:

This book has everything you will need to prepare for your trip. It also comes with a water proof map in the back.

SGK from Northern Va on 09/14/2019 07:22 AM
We’ve been biking the canal every October for last 30+ years and have always camped , but I think it depends a lot on whether you really enjoy camping (we do). Camping gives you real flexibility as to how far you want to go each day as there are campsites every 5 to 10 miles with few exceptions. We used to bike 50+ miles each day but now average closer to 30 so we can really enjoy our trip, it all depends on how much time you have (we allow ourselves a week, 2 weeks if we start in Pittsburgh). The nicer the weather the slower we go, and we like to set up camp early to enjoy the evenings by a campfire. We feel it’s a good idea to eat when you can, taking advantage of most every food stop along the way, but we do carry snacks and a few freeze dried dinners just in case.

JK on 09/14/2019 11:11 AM
I ridden from Cumberland to DC twice over the past few yers. I stayed at the following hotels, which both were satisfactory:
Hancock - Super 8
Harpers Ferry - Econo Lodge

As for food stops, Liberty Gas Station in Paw Paw, WV, Bills Place in Little Orleans (although I have heard it may have closed), Desert Rose in Williamsport (EXCELLENT and VERY biker friendly), and Whites Ferry Grill in Whites Ferry (but I think it closes for the season on 31 October, then re-opens in April). Plus several places in Hancock, Shepardstown, Harpers Ferry, and Brunswick.


Willy from Alexandria VA on 09/14/2019 01:25 PM
Bills Place is closed on Tuesdays (I think), but I was there twice in the last two weeks.

Willy from Alexandria VA on 09/14/2019 01:34 PM
I would give a recommendation for the Hillside Hotel 19105 Keep Tryst Rd., Knoxville, Md 21758 (phone 301-660-3585).

This is on the Maryland side of Harpers Ferry. You get off the trail near mile 58 where the Application Trail leaves the towpath.

You don't have to mess with the steps on the Harpers Ferry RR bridge, But you have a steep but doable 1 mile assent to the Hillside Hotel.

Extra bonus is a nice liquor store next door and the Guide House Restaurant across the street.

Anonymous on 09/14/2019 08:44 PM
Camping is for sure the more flexible option, as there are hiker biker sites evenly spread out along the trail. With the flexibility comes the fact that you will be backing heavier than if you are staying in hotels along the way. Same goes with food....if you choose to pack camp/dehydrated meals, you will have to include the stove/pot as well. Totally depends on what your preferences are.

I would highly recommend taking advantage of the Canal Quarters program if you have the opportunity. We stayed in Lockhouse 10 and really enjoyed it.

My packing must haves beyond the normal items would be.....earplugs (train could be loud whether camping or staying in a hotel), water mix-ins like propel...dual purpose...replenish electrolytes and mask the iodine flavor of the well water along the trail (I personally didn't find the water poor tasting, but others in the group did), extra socks, portable USB charger (get one that is at least 10,000 mAh...mine charged my cell a few times before I had to recharge the battery).

BobK from McLean VA on 09/15/2019 07:30 PM
I just rode from DC to White's Ferry and the mosquitoes are incredibly bad in that stretch of the trail and i will assume that its no better further up, so i would recommend some kind of wearable mosquito netting if you're going to be camping out, ie hat with attached netting, for example this is what i ordered for my trip around October 31st to Cumberland and i'm leaving then just because of the mosquito problem:

Also if you don't have "waterproof" panniers, i found that those new "flex" trash bags work really well as they really stretch and don't puncture that easy!

Happy trails!

Rivnuts from Homestead. PA on 09/16/2019 04:41 AM
Thanks for the heads up on the mosquitoes as I prepare to depart for DC next week and camp in route.

BobK from McLean VA on 09/16/2019 05:37 PM
Rivnuts, let us know how its going during your trip or if you run into anything along the way, happy traveling!

Rivnuts from Homestead. PA on 09/16/2019 08:49 PM
Thanks for the heads up on the mosquitoes as I prepare to depart for DC next week and camp in route.

Reagan National Airport parking in Georgetown - Washington
Anonymous on 09/16/2019 09:37 AM
What is the distance from Reagan National airport Parking to the C&O start point

Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 09/16/2019 03:46 PM
6.5 miles

White's Ferry to Leesburg
M Derby from Atlanta GA on 09/13/2019 12:10 PM
Hello - Hoping for some insight / advice - My friend and I are riding the C&O in early October and staying at Lockhouses along the way. We really wanted to take the ferry and ride into Leesburg. I've read that while there are plans to widen Rte 15 and add bike shoulders, currently there are several spots where there is absolutely no shoulder on this 4mi stretch and that it is very dangerous? How safe / dangerous is this ride - We will have touring gear etc on bikes, and while it would be nice to ride to town for a good meal and visit, don't want to get creamed by a car to do it. Thoughts?

Thanks so much in advance!

Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 09/13/2019 07:20 PM
I've ridden that road a couple of times in route to overnight lodging. It is indeed a busy highway. If you choose to do so, hopefully you have a mirror to keep an eye on the traffic coming from behind. Also, you are well advised to make yourself as visible as possible while on the road with bright colors and blinking lights. If possible, you'd be well advised to avoid rush hours on the road. Lastly, you can avoid riding it twice if you elect to ride from Leesburg to Washington on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail rather than return back to the C&O on Rte 15 from Leesburg.

John from Pittsburgh, PA on 09/13/2019 08:40 PM
I second Rivnuts suggestion for W&OD Trail. A nice alternative to the mud of the C&O. It's an MUP that is really well marked. The only downside is you will miss Great Falls if you take this from Washington DC to White's Ferry. For some people that's a deal breaker (and an understandable one).

Also, don't forget the Western Maryland Rail Trail (WMRT) before and after Hancock, MD. Look for the map online as it will have the switch off points so you can connect back to and from the WMRT/C&O. 28 miles of paved goodness.

Willy from Alexandria VA on 09/14/2019 10:35 AM
Just crossed Whites Ferry coming back from my Alexandria to Pittsburgh and back trip just last Tuesday.

Whites Ferry Road doesn't have any shoulder, but little traffic if not at rush hour(~1 mile).

Route 15 has a wide shoulder (~5ft) while traffic passes you at 50 mph until the turn off to business 15 from 15 bypass (~2 limes).

Then its minimal to 2ft shoulder the next mile into Leesburg (but at least the speed limit is posted at 25-35 mph).

I find this section from Whites Ferry to Leesburg and the connection to the WOD trail as less dangerous than my commute through DC and Arlington 5 days a week.

My latest video
stillriding from Pittsburgh, PA. on 09/10/2019 04:42 PM
Just posted my latest video. A ride to Niagara Falls from the Peace Bridge. If you ever get an opportunity to do this ride don't past it up. It was great.


Just high lite it and open the link. All my videos can be seen at Pat Stillriding on Youtube.

Ray (webmaster) on 09/11/2019 09:43 AM
Thanks for sharing!

I took the liberty of posting this on the Erie Canal Forum (I run that site too) because this ride is very accessible from the Buffalo end of that trail.

Looks like an awesome ride that I look forward to trying out myself someday.

stillriding from Pittsburgh, PA. on 09/11/2019 11:27 AM
Thanks Ray for doing that. So glad you liked the video. It is such a nice ride to do. How many websites do you run? I think you run the Mickelson Trail site also. That's a awesome trail also. Do they have a site for the Key West Trail? I am doing that in a few months.

Ray (webmaster) on 09/11/2019 12:51 PM
Yep, I run the BikeMickelson website, and a handful of others:

Katy Trail in Missouri
C&O / GAP in Maryland / Pennsylvania
Cowboy Trail in Nebraska
Mickelson Trail in SD
Erie Canal Trail in NY
Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga Trails in GA/AL
I&M Canal Trail in Illinois (site under construction)

... and always open to suggestions for others.

I don't know about Key West but that sounds like a fun ride!

Rivnuts from Homestead. PA on 09/11/2019 04:03 PM
I do the ride to Niagara Falls the day before the Erie Canal Tour sponsored by PTNY with several other riders. It's always exciting to see the Falls. Once across the Peace Bridge, the majority of the trip is on a bike trail/access road. Some of tha lake front homes are quite impressive.

Rivnuts from Homestead. PA on 09/11/2019 09:07 PM

If you are truly interested in creating yet another trail forum, you might want to consider the Natchez Trace. Like the C&O, it is managed by the National Park Service and is a well known and commonly ridden trail that would benefit from sharing information pertaining to that trail.

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