Mud on the western C&O -
Bike traveller from Austin,Texas on 07/16/2019 08:48 PM
I rode from Cumberland to Hancock today. I took the C&O until I reached the Western Maryland Rail Trail, opting for a paved trail for the last part of the ride. The mud on the C&O was not as bad as I expected.
I ride a Surly Long Haul Trucker: a bike with mountain bike width tires but without a mountain bike’s suspension. The mud puddles were no big deal. Most were only a few bikes lengths long and were narrow enough that you could steer around them. Sometimes I had to pass through a puddle but not that often. There were only a couple that were deep enough that I needed to slow down.
The trail is bumpy compared to the GAP, but the GAP is unusually smooth for a bike trail.
If I had been on a road bike I would have been unhappy. A hybrid bike with, say, 38 mm tires might have been ok, but I recommend something closer to mountain bike width.
More concerning to me was the condition of the water pumps. I went for around twenty miles without finding a working pump. Luckily there was a place selling water near the start of the WMRT. That guy is try to sell the place, so I would not count on him being there. My advice is to bring enough fluid with you to avoid depending on the pumps.
JJ from Franklin, Pa on 07/17/2019 02:21 PM
Just finished up the gap/c&o on 16 July 2019. Every pump I tried along the c and o worked and had water. Some had took more pumping than othersz
Keith from York PA on 07/17/2019 07:46 PM
I rode from Cumberland to Hancock today. Trail could definitely use some maintenance. Ran into some water pumps that didn’t work but some that did. You really need to pump for a while. Important in this stretch because there aren’t towns immediately on the trail. Water from pumps is treated with iodine, so you if you are a water snob bring plenty from your starting point.
Recent Pgh to DC trip (7/7 - 7/12) -
Clark W. from Pittsburgh on 07/15/2019 03:57 PM
Just finished the GAP and C&O trail to DC with my son Rusty.
Left Friday 7/7 and arrived 7/12. Just wanted to share a few comments:
Overall -- excellent trip and the trails were in good shape, despite some recent heavy rains.
In Connelsville, we stayed at SEAMS LIKE HOME B2B and it was Great! The owners, Rick and Donna were excellent hosts. The place was clean and comfortable and the shuttle service offered was perfect. Highly recommended. Rick was one of the nicest persons I've ever met.
In Myersdale, we stayed at Yoders Guest house. This was a nice place. Clean and comfortable. Would stay again no doubt.
Little Orleans -- We stayed at town hill B&B. Also very nice place, clean. Great breakfast. Great view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Pretty good dinner at the local Exxon (which hosts a diner).
Wiliamsport: Bays Farm B&B. This place was beautiful! Super clean and comfortable. Jessie was very nice and made a great breakfast. Not much in the town -- but the pizza/pasta place across the street was pretty good. They also have a Sheetz!
Lees Colonial Inn -- Leesburg, VA. I would not stay here again. The place was dated and old. Smelled musty. The bike shuttle service wasn't good. Took 45 minutes and the truck was too small to carry two bikes. I damaged my bike as a result
Lyn from Tuscarora pa on 07/16/2019 05:14 AM
Thanks for the info ! We’re the B&Bs far off the trail or close and easy access ?
Clark w on 07/16/2019 10:10 PM
@Lyn. Some were just off the trail: Yoders in Myersdale, and in Williamsport, Bay Farms was just a few blocks away. The others had free or very inexpensive shuttle service that picked us up at the trail head and returned us the next morning. This worked out fine for us
Lock #21 (Swain's Lock) in Potomac -
jrush on 07/05/2019 01:13 PM
Is this a free biker campsite?
John from Pittsburgh on 07/05/2019 10:22 PM
Yes. All “hiker/biker” sites along the C&O are free. The GAP is a different story.
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 07/15/2019 11:47 AM
While the Hiker/Biker (H/B) campsites along the C&O Canal Trail are free there are other campsites along the C&O that are not free such as at Spring Gap, 15 Mile Creek, Antietam, etc. While they may appear to be H/B sites they are generally larger and better maintained and hence why they require a reservation and fee.
There are free trailside campsites along the GAP Trail although they are not referred to as "H/B" sites. There are free camp sites at Connellsvile, Round Bottom, Cedar Creek Park and Dravo Cemetary.
Turnoff for Perryopolis -
Bike traveller from Austin, TX on 07/13/2019 04:38 PM
My lodging tonight is at Lenora's Inn, in Perryopolis. Many towns near the GAP have exit signs on the trail, but Perryopolis does not. I went five miles too far before I realized I needed to turn around.
If you need to go to Perryopolis, look for the small parking lot within about 50 yards of the 102 mile marker. Go through the parking lot, then turn right on the road. Take that until it dead-ends, then turn left and follow the road about a mile into Perryopolis.
Amtrak to DC -
Lyn from Tuscarora pa on 07/08/2019 09:45 PM
Arriving in DC via Amtrak train to do the C&O trail.
Anyone know how to get from train station to trail head ?
Richard from DC on 07/09/2019 08:58 AM
It's easy. From the train station, ride four blocks to the Mall. Ride west along the Mall until you get to the Lincoln Memorial. From there, go two blocks to the river where you'll see a bike path. Follow that west into Georgetown, under freeway, past the smelling garbage bins, and you're at the trail head. Maybe four miles in all. A mile from the Lincoln Memorial. Except for the four blocks from the train station to the Mall, you don't have to ride on streets unless you want to.
Bob Kennelly from Mclean Va on 07/09/2019 09:51 AM
From Google Maps, this looks like it may be the Lincoln Memorial route, or you can use this if you get lost
Take Union Station Dr NE to Columbus Circle Northeast
1 min (417 ft)
Head west on Union Station Dr NE toward Columbus Monument Drive Northeast
Merge onto Columbus Monument Drive Northeast
Turn left onto Columbus Circle Northeast
47 s (230 ft)
Turn right at the 1st cross street onto Louisiana Ave NE
3 min (0.4 mi)
Continue on Constitution Ave NW. Take Virginia Ave NW to Wisconsin Ave NW
16 min (3.3 mi)
Use any lane to turn slightly right onto Constitution Ave NW
Turn left to stay on Constitution Ave NW
Parts of this road may be closed at certain times or days
Use the right 2 lanes to turn slightly right onto Virginia Ave NW
Continue straight to stay on Virginia Ave NW
Continue straight to stay on Virginia Ave NW
Use the right lane to turn right onto Rock Creek and Potomac Pkwy NW
May be closed at certain times or days
Turn right onto the ramp to K St/Whitehurst Fwy
Continue onto K St NW
Turn right onto Wisconsin Ave NW
dennis crapser from Montgomery, PA on 07/09/2019 08:01 AM
On the Sharpsburg info you list 5.4 miles to Downsville yet the mile maskers calculate to 10.5.
77 For Sharpsburg and 87.5 for Downsville
MP 52 -
KLA on 07/08/2019 10:16 PM
Flash flooding didn't impede us from crossing Little Catoctin Creek. We crossed at 3:30pm and the water was about 1.5 below the temporary (although rather solid) bridge. This was after all the rain/Flash flood warnings.
Recent Trip Report -
BikeandClimb on 07/06/2019 05:21 PM
I found these types of postings helpful so figured I'd share a general summary of the recent trip. This was my first time on the C&O and the GAP.
Left Georgetown early on Wednesday, July 3rd. Encountered 4 fallen trees I had to lift my bike over in the first 30 miles (I don't recall specific mileposts). One was large enough that I had to remove my panniers, toss them over, then bring my bike along.
Conditions were a bit wet and muddy the first day but nothing like I had prepared myself for. The Brunswick temporary bridge was super solid and easy to cross-I was impressed. Made it just south of Williamsport and shared the Cumberland campsite with a group. It was great to be able to hop in the river to get the mud off. Every pump I tried was working with the exception of one around mile 60 that didn't have a handle. I found the water fine to drink as well. Got one flat I had to patch on trail. This was after the area north of Sharpsburg. A red arrow is painted on a tree. I will walk my bike through there next time. It felt like some mountain bike trails.
Left camp early on the 4th. Made it through Williamsport, the detour was well marked. Got spooked by a dog in the part that goes behind some houses. I walked my bike when it turned back into trail. That area was super rutted and looked like an easy accident for me. Grabbed breakfast and another tube in Hancock. The Western Maryland Rail Trail was a really pleasant ride and I found easy to follow when leaving and joining the C&O.
After the WMRT, things got pretty muddy. Huge puddles. It was all pretty manageable but it's something to be prepared for. Got another flat on the damaged tube just outside of Paw Paw. Repaired that. It started raining pretty hard and got seemingly even muddier in the last 10 miles into Cumberland. I got a stick in my rear derailleur and knocked it when dropping into a big puddle at some point in here. I'd been warned about the trains, heard the fireworks, and needed a shower so I opted for a hotel. Ramada inn let me spray my bike down and bring it to my room.
Left Cumberland about 7am on the 5th. The climb to the divide was pretty gradual. Here's where I realized my drivetrain was acting up. Gears were slipping and super noisey in most gears. Big Savage tunnel was such a cool experience. The drop on the other side of the divide was very pleasant. Trail conditions on the GAP were great. Really nice trail the entire way.
Made it to Confluence and sought out the Confluence Cyclery. The three gentlemen there were extremely helpful. Grabbed food at Mitch's across the street. They made a minor adjustment to my derailleur which improved things slightly. We agreed it'd get me home. They suggested camping in Connellsville. Made it there after one more rain shower. The trail was a bit more crowded through Ohiopyle.
Left Connellsville early on 7/6. Made it to Pittsburgh before 11. McKeesport was the only area to that point I had trouble following the trail. It wasn't super clear to me that I had to cross the bridge. Into Pittsburgh was fine and mostly paved. I lost the trail in the last mile but ended up at Points all the same.
Definitely a great trip. Would recommend at least one additional tube and to know where the bike shops are on route. Folks are extremely helpful along the entire trail. Don't underestimate the mud north of Hancock.
Culvert Washout Crossing -
Andy from Pittsburgh on 06/21/2019 11:19 AM
Has anything changed for the washout just outside of Brunswick? The NPS has changed their wording and it isn't clear if they have installed a temporary crossing or just updated the description of "walk across the creek only when the water is low."
Here is the current wording:
"Towpath Detour. There is a short towpath detour around the washed out area - follow the signage off the towpath and onto a desginated pathway that leads to a temporary low-water* crossing across the creek. Get back onto a desginated pathway that leads back up to the towpath. Follow signage and dismount bikes before crossing.*During high water events, the crossing may be under water and unsafe to cross."
Unless there is significant rain Monday onwards, we will likely at least take a look at it Wednesday morning. If not passable, back to the free shuttle.
John from Pittsburgh on 06/21/2019 12:41 PM
I just googled “C&O Canal Twitter” and their twitter page is showing photos of a “low water bridge” spanning the creek at the top of their page. Hooray! They laid boards down across 3-4 huge concrete blocks.
There are no barriers or handrails so this is clearly a temporary fix until they put in the real bridge.
This is so great, no more shuttles (barring another washout).
Andy from Pittsburgh on 06/21/2019 01:06 PM
I hadn't thought to check twitter. That looks like a much easier and cleaner crossing than the one I did last summer just a bit downstream from the boards.
Jill from Herndon, VA on 06/26/2019 04:13 PM
My husband and I went through the Brunswick temp bridge this past weekend (23 Jun 2019) and there was no problem. It's very steep on the eastern side getting down to the bridge so we got off our bikes and walked across but it is easily passable.
Andy from Pittsburgh on 07/05/2019 12:30 PM
Just a followup, we went over the crossing on June 26th with no problem. All three of us rode down the approach from the Brunswick side and across the stream. My girls couldn't make it up the other side and had to get off and push, but I managed to clear the rise. Quite steep on the Point of Rocks side, but quite passable. They have extended the trail surface down towards the creek, so it was much more "built-up" than I was expecting. IMO, this is meant as a multi-year fix and not a one-season band-aid.
Cacapon junction and Devil's Alley hiker/biker campsite Water pumps -
MH from Kensington on 07/05/2019 12:01 PM
Hi All. I just finished a multi day backpacking trip on the C&O tow path Williamsport to 15 Mile Creek Area. The NPS listed all water pumps as ON for my section hike as of 7/1/19.
Please note that the Cacapon Junction H/B campsites and The Devils Alley Pumps are in reality off or broken.
The campsite between these 2 sites has a working pump that is ON. Hope nobody reached this area mile 134 in need of water or plans to camp at Cacapon like me.
If you are really in need of water, get on the Paved bike path located in the been side of the canal, local residents have coolers of cold bottled water for sale. $1 (accessible by several paths or just walking across a dry area of canal)
I always travel with a water filter so I could have filtered water from the canal or Potomac if I had to do so. Lesson learned!
I emailed NPS but it's a holiday so pump info may not be corrected until next week.
water pumps on GAP -
bike traveler from Austin, Texas on 07/04/2019 08:56 PM
The National Park Service publishes the locations of the water pumps on the C&O Canal Towpath Trail here: https://www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/conditions.htm. Is there a similar list for the GAP?
Rivnuts from Homestead. PA on 07/05/2019 04:52 AM
I am not aware of a similar, comprehensive listing of water pumps per se' for the GAP as there is no common entity that oversees and maintains the GAP like the National Park Service does for the C&O. That said, there is water available at several public trailside locations along the GAP. Here's a list of locations with free water along GAP that I am aware of.
Pittsburgh Point State Park.- Fountains
Homestead Pumphouse - Restroom sinks
McKeesport Marina - Fountain
Boston Ballfield - Fountain
Dravo Campground - Pump
West Newton Visitor Center - Fountain
Cedar Creek Park Campground - Hose bib
Round Bottom Campground - Pump (Non-Potable)
Connellsville Trailside Campground - Fountain
Ohiopyle - Fountain
Rockwood - Fountain
Meyersdale Visitor Center
Frostburg - Fountain
Cumberland Visitor Center - Restroom Sinks
There may be others and I invite other travelers to augment or correct this list. Of course, water can be obtained or purchased at other commercial locations in cities along and near the trail.
December travel -
EN on 07/01/2019 08:55 PM
I am traveling in the USA for a conference in December and was considering riding the C&O trail during this time.
Is it possible to ride it in December, or will it be too cold and snowy/rainy?
Rivnuts from Homestead. PA on 07/03/2019 06:46 AM
December is not the ideal time to ride the C&O Canal Towpath. As you questioned the temperature can be cold with highs in the 40's (F) and lows in the 30's with extremes beyond that. Rain and snow could be encountered as well. Camping would be uncomfortable and the wells at the hiker/biker camp sites would not likely be operational.
While you did not mention riding the GAP Trail, note the Big Savage Tunnel would likely be closed at that time as well.
In summary, I'd lobby the conference sponsors to reschedule the conference to late spring or summer. ??
Shuttle with a 3 wheel recumbent -
3wheeler from Aggieland on 06/28/2019 10:51 PM
My husband and I are biking the GAP in mid July, from Pittsburgh to Cumberland. He has a 3 wheel recumbent and I have a surly. We are camping along the way. The problem we have is how to get our bikes/selves back to Pittsburgh after we arrive in Cumberland. We've considered the train, but it arrives in Pittsburg around midnight. We would then need to ride our bikes back to where our car is parked, hopefully along/near the trial, and the train station seems like a sketchy part of town, especially at midnight.
I guess my question is this: what's the best way to park at one end, get a ride back to the GAP, so that you can finish where you parked your can? Oh, "budget" seems to guide our decision too. Trying to do it on the cheap side if possible.
Any references or services would be appreciated.
charles from pittsburgh on 06/29/2019 04:02 PM
we use get out and play to bring 15 people back to pgh they have a trailer and vans maybe you could get a ride back with other bikers and split the cost . as for parking in pgh you leave car at the station or bus station across the street from Amtrak. my be you rent a van and put bikes inside . you can leave car at train station take train to cumberland and bike back . the only thing is you will have to bike up a 12 mile hill to frostburg first but from there it down hill to pgh
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 06/29/2019 11:04 PM
I don't have a definitive answer to your question but here are some options and observations.
1. I'm not certain how/whether a 3-wheel recumbent can be loaded on the Amtrak Capital Limited. The bike cars appear to be equipped to hang 2-wheel bikes. In multiple trips on that route, if not seen a recumbent in the bike cars. I'd check with a knowledgeable Amtrak representative to determine whether or not they can accommodate a 3-wheel recumbent.
2. Shuttles back from Cumberland to Pittsburgh are rather expensive given their normal "per person" pricing that I've seen. A one-way van or SUV rental may be a less expensive and more flexible option for more than one person and their bikes.
3. When riding from Cumberland to Pittsburgh, Frostburg is closer to 16 miles up the hill from the start of the GAP in Cumberland. Further, the GAP continues uphill from Frostburg to the Eastern Continental Divide some 23 miles from the start at Cumberland. The grade is not steep given it is/was a rail line but it is a continuous uphill trek.
Pat Ness from Greencastle on 07/02/2019 01:07 PM
Hello. We just finished the thru ride from Pittsburgh to DC this past friday....awesome. we did take the Amtrak back from DC to Pittsburgh on the Capitol limited. Our storage car had no racks at all... had to lay the bikes flat. No idea whether Amtrak can say what type of car you may have for your bikes, but this was just an open space, so a recumbent would have fit fine.
Additionally, you mention budget is a concern, but the Hampton, although a bit pricey, is about 2 blocks from the train station when you return, and takes 5 minutes or less to ride to upon returning. Also, if you stay there when you leave, your car can stay for free while you are gone. We were gone 8 days, and car was looked after and fine. Most, if not all other hotels in the immediate area charge for parking.
Just some more info for your planning
Trailside B&B in Meyersdale -
Kathleen from Oolitic, IN on 06/30/2019 08:43 AM
My dad and I stayed at the Trailside B&B during our epic adventure riding the GAP and C&O. It was located just steps from the trail and the old train station. We ate dinner at Morguen Toole Company, they also own the Trailside B&B. It started to rain cats and dogs and the owner was gracious enough to give us a lift back to the B&B. They were also very accommodating for my dad who had injured himself the previous day and couldn't ride from Confluence to Meyersdale. They got our room ready as soon as possible so he could rest after the shuttle dropped him off. We had a wonderful visit with Harry Beal at the train station the next morning. Google him!!! He's pretty amazing and he loves to show everyone his scrapbook. He was the highlight of our trip.
Fargone from Kennett Square PA on 07/01/2019 06:07 PM
We have stayed at Morguen Tool Company twice, they are the best! Inside storage for our bikes, clean room, great food and cold beer! The owner always seems to be there, great guy. Go to the GI Day Room just down the street for breakfast, they have the best pan cakes. We plan our trips making sure we stay at Morguen Tool Company.
Kathleen from Oolitic, IN on 06/29/2019 07:47 AM
@Rivnuts, we took the road up the hill at the trailhead. At top of hill hung a left and took bridge over river. Cross the railroad tracks. When you see the fire station turn right. Adele's is down the road on the right. Can't miss it.
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 06/29/2019 11:15 PM
Thanks for the information. I've never crossed over the river at Smithton from the trail. I'll have to ride over there and check out Adele's on one of my rides up and down the trail there.
FYI. I just spent two weeks visiting family south of Indy and riding out and about Martinsville, IN. Not as far south as Oolitic however. I love riding back in the Hoosier state. Lots of riding options, good and lightly travelled roads and mostly flat. The only problem is that I am a transplanted Boilermaker and that's generally Hoosier country down there. :-)
Hanna House Bed and Breakfast in Confluence -
Kathleen from Oolitic, IN on 06/29/2019 07:54 AM
My Dad and I stayed at Hanna House on our recent bike trip on the GAP and C&O. Francis is a delightful host. Her home is beautiful. She has a beautiful new room with 2 twin beds in it, perfect for this father/daughter team. Although Hanna House is not located directly on the trail is was easy to find and not a difficult ride. Francis made a delicious breakfast for us the next morning, the perfect fuel for the day ahead. I highly recommend Hanna House!!