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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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Williamsport to HF
 - 
Fabio from Shekago on 05/21/2022 09:43 AM
Lots of discussion regarding the path conditions and recent flood damage. Cycled 5/20/22 from Williamsport to HF. All good until a detour off the C&O at about MP 90 around some sort of impassable damage. After the detour the path east was a challenge with debris piles that you must climb over and some really sticky mud that is mostly impossible to ride. By Big Slackwater boat ramp it is all over and you can clean the mud off your bike in the river at the ramp. There is some trail damage further east but is really limited to washouts and bumps from the material washed away. Not the end of the world but the couple miles of mud and debris will take some time to pass and a heavy bike will be a challenge.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 05/21/2022 02:27 PM
Thank you very much for that report as I head north and west from DC on Monday. I think the detour around MP90 is the one at McMahons Mill which has been there and is described in the NPS C&O website.

Did you leave the Towpath anywhere other than there?

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Cumberland to Little Orleans
 - 
Fabio from Sheekago on 05/18/2022 10:02 PM
Rode C&O from Cumberland to Little Orleans today. Route mostly dry, firm and very passable. Some puddles and mud but very avoidable and not an issue. Hiked over Paw Paw tunnel on the well marked trail. A bit steep but very doable provided your not pushing a massively loaded bike. The trail has some 14% incline so a really heavy bike can be a challenge. The hike is 90% dry. Minor mud. The path east of Paw Paw is neglected and overgrown but easily passable, dry and firm. The camp sites are pretty dank and buggy. Enjoyable and easy ride.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 05/19/2022 03:26 AM
Fabio:

Thanks for your clear description of the trail conditions in those trail sections. If you are riding on toward Shepherdstown and Dam 4 after the WMRT drop us a note on those trail conditions if you get a chance. Thanks.

 
Fabio from Shekago on 05/19/2022 11:39 PM
Williamsport tonight.

Head east to Harpers Ferry tomorrow with anecdotal reports of mud, mud and detours. Supposed to be hotter than a $2 pistol tomorrow. Look for updates.

 
TomD from Vienna on 05/20/2022 09:24 PM
Ciao Fabio,
If it helps, I’m headed out on a TransAm in the morning!
Misery loves company?
A presto!
And Rivnuts is doing some GAP blast also!

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Trail north of dam 4 ritually impassable. 6 inches mud and piles of trees and debris every 100 yds
 - 
Chris from Skokie on 05/17/2022 12:03 PM
See above avoid detour when it puts you back on trail before dam 4

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 05/17/2022 05:44 PM
Thanks Chris. I got a similar report from a rider arriving in Pittsburgh today.

 
Andy from Pittsburgh on 05/18/2022 04:03 PM
How long after high water events does it typically take the Park Service to clean up the trail? Wasn't the last event over a week ago?

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 05/18/2022 05:44 PM
I suspect the mud and debris north/west of Dam 4 are the result of the high river level following the couple of days of heavy rains at the end of the first week of May.

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Paw paw tunnel closure
 - 
Chris Scanlon from Skokie on 05/14/2022 05:52 PM
Any one aware of any shuttle options around the tunnel? Planned to be there on 5/16
Thanks

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 05/14/2022 09:50 PM
Below is the text of a forum post more than a year ago about a shuttle at Paw Paw. You might try this contact number to see if this service is still being offered.


Bikepath B&B Paw Paw, WV,
April 22 at 6:45 AM ·
TUNNEL SHUTTLES Hi, everybody. Again this year, the Paw Paw tunnel is closed at the downstream end, requiring a detour over the mountain. NPS projects this will last through the summer. I will be offering shuttles, either to the top of the mountain ($30), or downstream to Little Orleans ($60), for those interested. I did this last year, and it worked out well. Everybody called ahead, and showed up on time. BTW, these are good prices ($90, and $120 were the rates quoted to me by guests last year). Which is understandable, because other services are not based here, and must charge for the additional travel time. Anyway, if interested, please call ahead, 304-671-5153. Availability is limited, I still ride 4-8 hours a day, and run the B&B. PS Most of you can do the detour push, though it is a chore and a half. Dan

 
Chris Scanlon from Skokie on 05/15/2022 05:49 PM
Thanks, I contacted Dan and have made arrangements with him.
I rolled into Cumberland Sunday afternoon to find the C&O visitor center has been closed, a former volunteer who happened to be there said the park district just locked the door. I can’t vouch for what really happened but downtown Cumberland is a ghost town on Sunday. Plan to pass through any day but Sunday unless you are planning to stay less than 15 minutes. On to Hancock.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 05/15/2022 08:25 PM
Chris:

If you have the time, please drop a note about trail conditions between Cumberland and 15-Mile Creek following last week’s heavy rain and the status of the temporary foot bridge across Catoctin Creek south/east of Brunswick. Thanks.

 
TomD from Vienna on 05/16/2022 01:23 AM
…and more rain on Sunday.
I hope it passed around the CandO.
There are folks on ‘crazyguy’ that are into Day 7 up the towpaththat are headed west, stopped at Huckleberry Hill.
I expect they will comment by Monday afternoon, as will maybe Chris, here.

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ACA TransAm kickoff
 - 
TomD from Vienna, va on 05/13/2022 03:40 PM
This morning, under drizzly skies, a new group of ACA TransAm-ers left Georgetown at CandO MM 0 headed west to do that one and the GAP as they head to Oregon!
Wishing them better weather and a great ride. (I leave next Sunday but not that route)

@Rivnuts: it seems your’re the unofficial greeter at the confluence at 148.8 in your city?
Maybe you can determine when they will arrive? The ACA site says a week to get there.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 05/13/2022 06:22 PM
Tom:

I’m not sure that I qualify for the title but I’d be happy and look forward to meeting/greeting the ACA Transam group as they approach or reach the ‘Burgh or answer any questions they may have. I’ll be in town all next week before starting my own trip to DC on 5/23. If there is a way to contact them, I can reach out to them or they can contact me at:

Rivnuts@yahoo.com

Best wishes for a successful start to your trip. I’ll monitor the website to track your progress.

 
TomD from Vienna on 05/13/2022 08:25 PM
@rivnuts: I sent the ACA team a note and cc’ed you.
I applied to crazyguy but still waiting to hear, so I’ll be posting my reports here https://phoenixrides.blogspot.com/2022/05/ride-4-alz.html

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Tagged: Canal Mile 0

Snow storm from Ohiopyle to Cumberland.
 - 
Kim from MI on 04/19/2022 09:23 PM
I had to stay an extra night in Ohiopyle due to heavy rain on 4/18.
I set off this morning 4/19 heading for Frostburg, trail was good until Rockwood. I got about 1.5 miles to Meyersdale, then I encountered 4" snow with blizzard conditions. Turned back and got a shuttle to Frostburg. Hated missing the Great Divide. But sense sometimes has to take control.
Hoping the snow will be cleared enough for a nice freewheel to Cumberland in the morning. What a day!

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 04/19/2022 10:13 PM
Kim:

Sorry to hear the weather up there deteriorated even further than here in Pittsburgh here today. It was blustery, cold and snowing at times here, but we did not have any accumulation. Your experience is why I say that riding the GAP Trail in April can be uncomfortable especially at those higher elevations around Rockwood and Meyersdale. That said, one can also encounter several days of relatively warm weather in April as well. I hope the rest of your trip goes well. Enjoy the freewheeling down to Cumberland.

How was your yurt accommodation?

 
Kim from MI on 04/19/2022 11:07 PM
It was great, very rustic. But more comfortable than a one man tent.
Accidentally left my solar powered lantern there. So I hope to pick up something similar in Cumberland. I loved that lantern.

 
John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 04/20/2022 06:36 PM
Bummer you missed most of the downhill of the Divide! You will still get 9 miles of downhill out of Frostburg to Cumberland (I think that’s the mileage). Smart move taking the shuttle though and avoiding the worst snow.

I hope the C&O isn’t that muddy for the remainder of your trip.

What’s your plans for the Paw Paw Tunnel?

Have you encountered a lot of touring cyclists during this April journey?

Today seemed much warmer all around and I hope you get more.

John

 
Tom from Vienna,va on 04/24/2022 07:20 AM
Since I just returned, Saturday, I will offer that I saw a very few touring riders.
Most were headed west.

I did meet Paul, from the Netherlands who is visiting USA on a 90 day travel visa.
He flew into DC and is headed west, then to SFO then flying home.
He wanted to see our country firsthand.
He has no contacts here, except in SF. He seemed like a nice guy.
Paul, if you read this.. feel free to reach out.

 
Tom from Vienna,va on 04/26/2022 06:48 PM
Please note and be prepared for a hard, steep hike up a rough single track from the west and a long, sinuous, slippery hike up from the East over the PawPaw tunnel.

Please don’t approach the tunnel near dusk thinking you’ll roll through.
It’s closed.
The distance is “only” 1.5 miles, they say, but I had a loaded rig so it felt longer.

 
Kim from MI on 05/11/2022 10:06 PM
Hi Tom, I had lunch with Paul in Cumberland. Really nice guy. I have kept on touch with him and said to call if he ever really gets stuck or needs help in anyway. Also following his efforts on strava. He's really pushing the daily miles. 100+ on some days.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 05/12/2022 11:40 AM
I’d be quite interested in Paul’s comments about his trip and the country.

 
TomD from Vienna on 05/12/2022 09:43 PM
Kim, thanks for the comments about Paul.
I leave next week but won’t catch him.
I wished I had taken the time to get his contact info.
He seemed to be so eager to “see America up close”.
Thanks.

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Trail condition
 - 
Ed from Oakland MD on 04/15/2022 02:39 PM
What are the trail conditions between Cumberland and Old Town. It has been several years since I rode that section of the trail and it was in VERY POOR condition . Muddy, overgrown, don't adequately describe the conditions --

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 04/15/2022 04:24 PM
As of last fall there had been no improvements to that section. Thus, in my opinion, you’ll be at the mercy of the weather. The section between Paw Paw and 15-Mile Creek isn’t much better when wet.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 04/17/2022 03:54 PM

 
Suzanne from Chicago IL on 05/06/2022 09:14 AM
Hello - we are heading out to ride the GAP and C&O starting May 11th, self supported. We have reservations at B&B's along the way, arriving in Georgetown on the 17th. If anyone has any alerts, tips, etc. we would be most appreciative. We have a guidebook. We are looking forward to all there is to see!.
Suzanne
Chicago IL

 
TomD from Vienna, VA on 05/06/2022 10:17 AM
See my writeup below, from April 23.
PawPaw is closed...bring some hiking shoes.
MM 89-88 is closed. Be prepared for an extra detour. It's well marked, just an annoyance.
All H-B pumps were on, except Little Pond.
Random trees down that you may have to climb over or around.
Except for the rain making a mushy mess, you should have fun.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 05/06/2022 10:26 AM
Suzanne:

It looks like your choice of departure dates is fortuitous. Had you left the middle of this week you'd be riding thru nearly two days of continuous rain with sloppy, slick and cold (i.e. miserable) trail conditions. However, the 10-day forecast during your trip looks warm and dry although there may still may be some residual soft sections of the C&O that have not been restored.

I'm sure you are aware of the two notable detours at the Paw Paw Tunnel and McMahon's Mill on the C&O. If not, you should familiarize yourself with them and plan accordingly. You can find information about those detours on the National Park Service's C&O website.

If you need any assistance in or getting out of Pittsburgh to start your way down the trail, just drop me a note at rivnuts@yahoo.com.

 
Mary Gordon from Waupaca,WI on 05/09/2022 09:55 PM
Suzanne,
we are taking the same route starting the same day as your party...Maybe we'll cross paths!

 
Marlin from Metamora Illinois on 05/10/2022 05:24 PM
I am planning on running from Cumberland to Georgetown starting June 3. Re the detour at Paw Paw: can that part of the trail be used on foot? I ran the Katy Trail in Missouri a year and half ago and there was two “closures”. Well impossible for those packing on bikes but no problem on foot.
Thanks

 
TomD from Vienna, VA on 05/11/2022 03:22 PM
My recent experience from a few weeks ago was that the PawPaw tunnel is closed to access.
I was diverted from the west, up a steep, rocky, rooty single track path.
From the East, while not rocky or rutted, was long, steep, circuitous and slippery from mud.
There was NO ENTERING the tunnel.
It appeared that they had most of the timbers removed and floating in the canal.

 
Kim from MI on 05/11/2022 09:36 PM
I was there end of April going from Cumberland to DC and you are able to ride walk your bike thru, but the path is totally blocked at the eastern end by a steel fence.
So there's no option but to go over.
I found the bypass trail pretty easy not as expected. Admittedly I was packing light with only 25lbs of gear. I walked up the west side and had an easy ride down the twisty fire road the other side. Took a total of 25mins. It would be difficult if you have a trailer for sure.

 
Kim from MI on 05/11/2022 09:47 PM
The McMohans detour may seem like a bother. But it was a lovely distraction for about 5 or 6 miles along smooth winding country roads with beautiful scenery. It is very well marked. A few hills. But nothing extreme. Enjoy.

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Possible bridge issue in Harpers Ferry
 - 
WKR from Brunswick, MD on 05/08/2022 05:20 PM
My daughter and I were just turned around in Weverton while doing a local ride. The fire and rescue folks indicated a couple construction barges with excavators on them were loose on the river heading towards the bridge in Harpers Ferry. They didn't expect them to clear the bridge. They turned us around. Who knows if this will cause any significant damage but, if you're planning to ride through soon, be sure to check the status.

Oh, I should also mention that the little bridge at the culvert between jefferson and brunswick is currently under water. MD464 is an alternate route but is not at all bike friendly.

 
John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 05/08/2022 06:13 PM
I wondered if this weeks rain storm would cause havoc at Catoctin Creek (Brunswick). When that little wooden crossing went in, it was a temporary fix for when their original bridge collapsed.

Hopefully the Park Service comes up with a stronger and more permanent bridge that can survive flooding and creek rises like what we just had.

Hopefully they’ve secured the construction barges and there was no damage to the bridge. It would be pretty impactful if it was closed to trains and pedestrians.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 05/09/2022 06:36 AM
Thank you very much for that update on local conditions in that area that may impact through travelers.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 05/10/2022 03:39 AM
Building on WKR From Brunswick’s report of flooding of the temporary bridge across Catoctin Creek south of Brunswick, I saw another news report of flood-reported closures along the C&O following last week’s heavy rains at:

https://wjla.com/news/local/flood-warnings-potomac-river-closing-billy-goat-trail-boat-ramps-picnic-areas-whites-ferry-edwards-ferry-rileys-lock-montgomery-county-fire-rescue

While the weather looks good this week, travelers would do well to solicit trail conditions from oncoming cyclists for current conditions.

 
WKR from Brunswick, MD on 05/10/2022 07:29 PM
Everything looks good in Harpers Ferry. I ran up there today. A little more detail on what happened:
https://wtop.com/local/2022/05/construction-barge-breaks-loose-floats-down-potomac-river-near-harpers-ferry/

I may head south from brunswick tomorrow to check to see if the bridge is still under water.

 
RufussVa on 05/11/2022 01:09 PM
The Brunswick Bridge was still under several feet or water last night. (5/10/22). Not sure how deep. The Bridge itself was not visible.

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Cycling Days needed: DC to Cumberland on B&O
 - 
PFSkate from Traverse City on 05/07/2022 08:56 AM
We will typically cycle 50 to 70 miles on pavement in a day. Is 3 days possible on the C&O?

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 05/07/2022 09:40 AM
Yes, although they can be some long days if the trail is muddy wet or if spurious detours occur.

 
John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 05/08/2022 12:38 PM
A good itinerary for three days that I've done many times is:

--DC to Harpers Ferry
--Harpers Ferry to Hancock
--Hancock to Cumberland

You'll average about 60 mi. per day. The last day with be the most rustic and remote.

Not sure if you're camping or hoteling, but there are free campsites close to each town listed once you leave DC and of course hotel/B&B accomodations within each town.

John

 
Bill in Houston from Houston on 05/09/2022 10:33 AM
60 on gravel is about like 80-85 on pavement.

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To Better Appreciate Your Ride
 - 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 05/06/2022 10:30 PM
Riding the distance of the GAP and/or C&O is an accomplishment in and of itself. The experience is enhanced by the sights and sounds along the way not the least of which is meeting new people. However, the sights along the way are better identified and appreciated knowing the history of the trails. Thus, spending some time before the trip learning about that history will enhance the experience.

There are numerous ways to discover that history. The most recent one I’ve found is the new edition of the book The Great Allegheny Passage Companion written by Bill Metzger. It describes the history of the GAP including numerous maps and photos. Perusing if not reading this book is well worth the time to better appreciate the trip rather than simply riding furiously to get from Point A to Point B each day.

Just my two cents worth. YMMV

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