C&O Home  GAP Home
The C&O Canal Towpath Trail and Great Allegheny Passage

C&O / GAP Forum

Share your comments, questions, opinions, and advice on the C&O Canal Trail and/or Great Allegheny Passage.
 
Display format:
Expanded (see all replies)
Contracted (starting posts and reply counts)
Fall in Ohiopyle
Fall in Ohiopyle, PA on the GAP
Page: 1 2 ... 101
Whites ferry closing
 - 
Raven from Culpeper on 10/12/2021 08:34 AM
Hello all, I am going to be going on the C and O from Cumberland to DC at the end of the month, most of the plans are pretty solid at this point but had some concerns about the Whites Ferry closing. Is there anything that I need to know about it? Is there a pedestrian bridge to cross in its place or maybe a detour that is safe to take? Thanks for the impute.

 
Willy from Alexandria,VA on 10/12/2021 09:32 AM
Whites Ferry is still closed unfortunately.
No pedestrian or other bridge anywhere nearby.

 
Raven from Culpeper on 10/12/2021 10:44 AM
Willy, what did you end up doing to get over the river?

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 10/12/2021 11:29 AM
Bikerafting is your only option. :-)

Seriously, another poster to the forum stated that the Comfort Inn in Leesburg is offering their shuttle service from Point of Rocks if you were staying there overnight.

 
Willy from Alexandria,VA on 10/13/2021 06:47 PM
Well... the closest to reasonable crossing is Brunswick.

You can google a more scenic but less traffic route from Brunswick to Purcelville,Va without having to be on Berlin turnpike the entire way.

Then you are on the Washington & Old Dominion trail on the way to Washington DC. This trail crosses thru Leesburg.

Having said this it will test your lowest gear going up the hill from the bridge at Brunswick. That part you will be jousting with traffic.

Still less frantic than trying to cross at Point of Rocks (Route 15 bridge).

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 10/26/2021 10:51 AM
Irrespective of any ongoing efforts to politically regain the ferry service, there would be another obstacle for the ferry to return to operation. The ferry boat itself appears to be seriously damaged as it was apparently partially towed up the MD side approach ramp where it rests today with half the hull in the water and the half on the ramp. The hull appears badly buckled where the ramp enters the river. It is questionable if it could be easily repaired.

 
Bill in Houston from Houston on 10/26/2021 12:29 PM
That'll buff right out.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 11/18/2021 10:40 AM
Bill:

I read the other day where the ferry is actually a combination of two barges so maybe that buckle in the middle I saw on the ramp was simple the joint between the two barges. If so, then indeed it may indeed "buff right out" and the ferry can be returned to service fairly quickly if a solution to the dispute can be found.

share share this thread

Big Savage Tunnel Closure
 - 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 11/15/2021 11:20 PM
The GAP Trail website reports that the Big Savage tunnel will close for the winter season on December 6. There is no detour.

share share this thread

Transportation Connellsville to meyersdale nov 22
 - 
Nw from Baltimore on 11/12/2021 10:28 AM
Hey everyone! I am doing the full 350 in late November and my mom will join for one day. Does anyone have any reccomendations for transport from Connellsville to meyersdale for her? I reached out to wilderness voyagers but they are closed for the season. Thank you so much!

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 11/12/2021 08:58 PM
I don't know a specific shuttle operator to recommend around Connellsville but I might suggest you query the bike shop in Connellsville for possible shuttles from there. They can be reached at:

Bikes Unlimited
(724) 628-2453

 
Edward from North Carolina on 11/14/2021 09:43 PM
Might try these folks https://www.alleghenytrailhouse.com/shuttle/

share share this thread

Lock #05 in Bethesda
 - 
Anonymous on 11/13/2021 09:55 PM
We wanted to go to lock 5 towpath to walk. our gps
didn't get us to the way to get there. We got off the parkway
and asked people in neighborhood It was to high up to safely
walk down below. We could see the lower area but struggled and gave up and went to lock 7.

Help to clarify to get to lower section

share share this thread
Tagged: Lock #05

Transportation Connellsville to meyersdale nov 22
 - 
Nw from Baltimore on 11/12/2021 11:02 AM
Hey everyone! I am doing the full 350 in late November and my mom will join for one day. Does anyone have any reccomendations for transport from Connellsville to meyersdale for her? I reached out to wilderness voyagers but they are closed for the season. Thank you so much!

share share this thread

Detours Point of Rocks to DC?
 - 
R on 11/10/2021 10:40 AM
Is there any detour on the C&O from the Point of Rocks trailhead to Washington DC? I was driving on the Clara Barton highway and the road was closed after Cabin John. Since the trail is close by I am wondering if the trail is closed there also.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 11/10/2021 09:49 PM
There were no detours in that area when I rode through there 3 weeks ago. There are no Towpath detours listed in that area on the NPS C&O webpage either.

share share this thread

Transportation
 - 
Team Novelty Act from Pennellville on 11/02/2021 01:55 PM
Planning a one way from Pittsburgh to DC this spring on our tandem with a trailer. Any suggestions for getting our bike/trailer to Pittsburg for the start?

 
Bill in Houston from Houston on 11/02/2021 03:54 PM
Rent a car. The train won't take trailers or tandems, they say.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 11/02/2021 04:56 PM
Amtrak’s prohibition of tandems stems from the fact that their special cars for bikes have hanging racks for the bikes that would not accommodate larger/longer tandem bikes. However, the last few return trips that I’ve made on the train did not have that unique bike transport car. They just used one of their baggage cars and had me lean my bike up against the wall of the car or lay it down on the floor. The bikes shared the car with other baggage. Those baggage cars could haul a tandem but I guess they don’t know what type of car will be used to transport bikes on each train for any given route so they just prohibit tandem reservations altogether which is unfortunate.

With a dearth of rental cars available at many locations, you may have to employ a shuttle service to get you back to Pittsburgh. Neither the rental car nor the shuttle service is cheap.

 
Sarge P from Sarasota, Fl. on 11/04/2021 09:41 AM
I rode the same trip this past summer. In DC/Arlington, I stayed at the Hampton Inn just west of the Reagan Airport. The hotel shuttled me and the bike to the airport (5 minutes, and a tip to the driver) where I had reserved a pick-up truck from Hertz for the one-way rental trip back to Pittsburgh. The total cost for the rental was $223.10. It worked out perfectly and was well worth the price. I hope this helps in your planning.

share share this thread

Transportation
 - 
Team Novelty Act from Pennellville on 11/02/2021 12:35 PM
Planning a one way from Pittsburgh to DC this spring on our tandem with a trailer. Any suggestions for getting our bike/trailer to Pittsburg for the start?

share share this thread

Paw Paw Tunnel
 - 
Barry from Hershey on 10/07/2021 07:02 PM
I know there has been much discussion regarding the Paw Paw tunnel, so please bear with me. We are riding a part of the C&O canal next week and will be approaching the tunnel from the DC side. One of our stops is the Canal Cabins on Wednesday. We're assuming that we have to take the detour and the tunnel is still closed. I thought I heard about an alternative to the "up and over" detour with the 375 ft elevation change. Possibly the Tunnel Hill Road and route 51? Has anyone gone to the tunnel (from the DC side) in the last week or so? Any current, accurate information would be appreciated. Thanks!

 
Edward from North Carolina on 10/07/2021 08:23 PM
Rick from Florida on 09/21/2021 07:15 AM
I just rode the Paw Paw Bypass option (Sulphur Springs Rd, to Oldtown to Malcolm Rd to Tunnel Hill Rd) on Sunday the 19th. This connects with the Tunnel Hill Bypass Trail at the top of Tunnel Hill. You then have to take the Tunnel Hill Bypass Trail down to the C&O path. The option of going on these roads works well going from Cumberland to Little Orleans, however if you are going from Little Orleans to Cumberland you have no option to pushing your bike up the Tunnel Hill Bypass Trail. If you are going this direction you are probably better off staying on the Bypass trail to get back to the C&O. Just an FYI there are a couple if steeper sections on Sulpher Springs Rd and Tunnel Hill Road. They are ridable though. These are also public roads with no shoulder, so beware of traffic, especially on Oldtown Rd. (51).

 
Art on 10/07/2021 08:27 PM
I will probably come across as a bit of a jerk (story of my life) but if you have the luxury of navigating this trail on a bike I kind of chuckle at the lamentations over taking the detour.

My wife and I just walked the 185 miles and every 1/10 of a mile mattered. There were times I would have carried a bike (instead of my 40 lbs pack back) a mile up hill for the convenience of sitting on it for the next 30 miles.

Lol…for what it’s worth, we snuck around the tunnel barriers and were damned relieved to be able to do so.

Enjoy!

 
Barry from Hershey on 10/08/2021 09:37 AM
I really enjoy riding the C&O and Gap trail. We normally do a 3-4 day trip in the Spring and then in the Fall. I am 72 years old and have a very rare type of Muscular Dystrophy that is somewhat limiting, but not nearly as disabling as many other folks deal with. So, I use an electric bike and normally ride on pedal assist which allows me to enjoy the outdoors and still ride decent daily miles. My reason for trying to get the latest information on the tunnel, is the conflicting stories-sometimes it's open and sometimes it isn't and all sorts of other scenarios. If we have to take the detour, I'll (we'll) deal with that. I appreciate all the input and should have explained my situation in my earlier post. Enjoy the ride!

 
Art on 10/08/2021 12:32 PM
Understood!

I can tell you that the tunnel is definitely closed and blocked off, so the only alternative are the detours. Good luck and enjoy your trip!

 
Barry from Hershey on 10/08/2021 04:40 PM
Thanks Art!

 
Biker Bob on 10/10/2021 08:17 PM
We are planning to hit the trail in the coming week and it looks like there's a good detour bypassing the trail at Little Orleans (from the DC side) and heading up Oldtown Orleans Rd to Malcom Rd then hitting 51 back to the trail.

It looks like some nice gravel riding. Anyone done this? Don't feel like being chased by dogs...

 
Barry from Hershey on 10/16/2021 07:18 PM
Well, we did the Paw Paw Tunnel detour (DC side) on Wednesday and somehow managed to avoid heart failure. It was anything but easy (for me), but I made it. I want to highly recommend the "Canal Cabins in Paw Paw." Really great, clean accommodations. Also had a unique cultural experience at "Big & Tiny's" wings in Paw Paw. Food was terrific. Loved the folks that were there and hope to go back next ride. Paw Paw has a paved bike path to the edge of town and it looks like they are hoping for more business from the C&O riders.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 10/25/2021 08:06 PM
I traversed the Paw Paw Tunnel bypass trail on 10/20. As I recalled from doing so a few years ago when the tunnel itself was closed, it is steep with poor footing even in dry weather particularly the uphill climb going downriver. That said it did not take me as long as I had reported from memory a few years ago. It took me about 20 minutes to push my loaded bike up the hill stopping frequently to take a breather and 10 minutes to ride all but the first, say, 50 steep downhill yards which I also pushed. Given that you would normally walk through the long tunnel itself when the towpath is passable, the net additional time that the detour adds to the trip is rather modest. Maybe 15 or 20 minutes.

That said, less physically able or experienced riders would do well to find a shuttle around the Tunnel or to the top of the fire road at the top of the tunnel bypass. It was reported that a shuttle service to do so was available for $50 which might be well spent money for some casual tourers.

 
EdAA from Ann Arbor on 10/29/2021 05:32 PM
In case others are looking at this thread to decide how to navigate around this, I'll throw in another data point. As always, your mileage may vary.

My wife and I dealt with the bypass on October 17th, on the 5th of our 8 day journey from Pittsburgh to DC. The 17th was sunny, but the trail had a few wet spots from the rain the day before.

For calibration, my wife and I are in our 60s, and are in pretty good shape. (My wife had a knee replacement a little over a year ago.) We like to hike as well as bike, so climbing a hill is well within our comfort zone, at least without having to push a bike. Our biking is only on paved and dirt roads - we are not even remotely mountain bikers.

It took us about an hour to complete the bypass. We walked the entire way, and weren't in a rush so we'd stop to read historical signs, enjoy views, etc. We changed into walking shoes (sneakers) before starting. I also put the shoulder straps on my panniers and carried them (about 35 pounds) on my back rather than on the bike, since pushing the (top)heavy bike uphill with my arms stretched out enough that my legs didn't bang into the panniers was awkward and tiring. I put my wife's smaller and lighter (10-15 pounds) panniers on my bike, so she only had to push the weight of her bike. With a couple of breaks to enjoy the view we got to the top in about 25 minutes.

At the top, I put my panniers back on my bike, and carried my wife's instead, since the panniers don't get in the way much when walking the bike downhill. As mentioned by others, the path downhill (heading towards DC) is a rarely-used dirt road, so if you've got the right bike and practice you probably could ride it (at least after the initial steep part). On my 20-year-old Trek with smooth 35mm tires I didn't think it was worth the risk.

All in all, it was much easier than we had feared it might be, given the mixed messages we'd seen online about it. Even the NPS says to allow 1.5 to 2.5 hours to do it, which had us nervous since we feared we'd be more likely to be among the slower people attempting it.

One last thing: As we were considering our alternatives, we were put in touch with a man named Dan who runs a B&B in Paw Paw (WV), and who can shuttle riders around the tunnel. The price he quoted us was $30 per person to take you from about 1.5 miles before the tunnel (Sulphur Springs Rd) to the crest of the bypass path at Tunnel Hill Rd, or $60 to take you all the way to Little Orleans. We spoke to him, and he convinced us that we'd be fine on our own ... super nice and helpful guy!

share share this thread

Rockwood Trail House in Rockwood
 - 
Bill in Houston from Houston on 10/26/2020 02:05 PM
Rumor has it this place is for sale, in case you had ever wanted to own a B&B and bike shop.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 10/27/2021 09:50 PM
It was still for sale as of last week.

 
Bill in Houston from Houston on 10/28/2021 09:41 AM
I wonder how much they are asking for it. I'd like to find something similar on the Katy Trail. GAP winters are a little too cold for this southern boy.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 10/28/2021 04:06 PM
The Rockwood Trail House that I referred to was listed for $325,000. The Gingerbread B&B just up the street is apparently also for sale and it’s price listing has been reduced recently by $100,000 to $295,000 according to Zillow. Come on Bill get out your check book or Bitcoins, buy one or the other and move up north. We’d love to have you. However you’d have to become a Steeler fan.

 
Bill in Houston from Houston on 10/29/2021 09:31 AM
We stayed in the Gingerbread and it was a nice place. I think the becoming a Steelers fan is just a cost I'm not willing to pay. :)

share share this thread

GAP and C&O Towpath Resurfacing
 - 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 10/25/2021 08:21 PM
Last week I encountered two resurfacing efforts in my trip from Pgh to DC. The first was approaching Ohiopyle where new, crushed stone was being placed and compacted. Heavy dump trucks and rollers were travelling along the GAP toward this effort. Where the placed stone had not been compacted, it was unrideable for a short distance.

Similarly resurfacing efforts on the C&O upriver of Shepherdstown continues. I encountered vehicles and loose stone around MM79 to MM75 where previous restoration efforts had been finished. You may have to walk around some equipment and loose stone in this area but it was not a significant impediment.

share share this thread

Towpath Detour Near McMahon's Mill
 - 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 10/25/2021 08:14 PM
I was surprised by the detour at McMahon's Mill on the Towpath between mile markers 88 and 89 . It does appear among the list of detours and closures on the National Park Service C&O Towpath website. The particular detour is however clearly described (and I failed to read) at:

https://www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/mcmahon-s-lock-42-towpath.htm

It is a combination of some grassy paths and country roads totalling about 3 miles and has a couple of short steep, gravelly sections which may require walking a loaded bike.



share share this thread

Have a water plan, or bring a filter
 - 
Brian from Lexington KY on 09/29/2021 02:52 PM
I rode from Cumberland to DC last week (Sept. 20-24th, 2021), and much to our group’s dismay, we found that many of the water pumps were not working. A lot of them had the handles removed, but even several of the ones with handles were not pumping water. Fortunately, we all brought filters because we had to pull straight from the Potomac when we found ourselves in a pinch.

I’m not sure if it’s pandemic-related (not enough staffing for maintaining the pumps), but it’s something to keep in mind.

I remember doing the C&O back in 2014 and nearly every pump worked. I’m glad I didn’t put my confidence in that prior experience!

 
Lammetrack from Monona, WI on 10/05/2021 05:59 PM
We rode the C&O west to east on September 15-17. We also found many pumps not working. We did bring a water filter for an emergency, but did not have to use it. We were not camping, so we decided to each carry enough food and water to get us our 60 miles or so for the day. That worked out fine for us in the warm, but not hot weather. There are not many places to stop and get refreshments between Cumberland and Hancock (at least we didn't fine them) so be prepared.

 
FungoMoonstar from Lutz on 10/19/2021 01:15 PM
I rode it last week and found all pumps working at C & O site
. They do take some finesse to get them pumping, and it is potable!

 
AndrewM99 from Powell, Ohio on 10/25/2021 04:28 PM
Rode the GAP and C&O the week of October 9th - 16th.
A volunteer trail guide we met up with near PawPaw, indicated each County is responsible for testing the wells.
If there is ANY contamination, the County removes the pump handle and treats the well with iodine. FYI - Hope this helps!

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 10/25/2021 07:53 PM
I just returned to Pittsburgh last night from riding/camping along the GAP and C&O Towpath to DC. A number of pump handles have been removed and some of the pumps with handles take a long time to prime and get water, if any. In short, top off or get water when you can along the Towpath if you are relying on water at hiker/biker sites.

share share this thread

campsites
 - 
Jane Smith from Roanoke on 10/11/2021 08:48 PM
We are planning on doing the GAP during the last week of October. However, my husband and I are at different fitness levels, so I have no way of knowing how far we will ride each day. We intend to do mostly tent camping, but I understand that there are limited camping spots, and most require reservations. Is this correct, or is it similar to the C&O in that there are many first come, first serve campsites?

 
John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 10/11/2021 09:10 PM
All of the free campsites on the GAP do not require reservations. Just show up and pitch your tent.

With you traveling the last week of October, the campsites will be wide open. Even during peak summer, I’ve never seen campsites full….you’ll have the trail and campsites to yourself.

That said, there are only four free sites on the GAP. Check the guides so you can find to locate them. They are located at mile markers 89, 99, 110 and 122.

All others are traditional fee based campsites and may require a reservation just to make sure you get a spot. Can’t see you not getting one though. There are way fewer thru-cyclists in late October and campsites would be glad to take your money, compared to peak
Summer. :-)

 
Jane Smith from Roanoke on 10/12/2021 07:57 AM
Wonderful! Thank you so much for that info!

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 10/12/2021 08:16 AM
Note that there are Adirondack shelters at those free campsites along the western end of the GAP, and those shelters are first come first serve.

 
FungoMoonstar from Lutz on 10/19/2021 01:13 PM
I camped at the Outflow campground in Confluence on 10/14. This is a State site. It is officially closed, which means that you can camp there for free. I set up at a picnic table behind the playground. It was close to an open restroom. My only complaint would be that there were too many lights on all night, restroom and power station at base of dam. Check out Mitch's Food & Fuel in town.

share share this thread

Harpers Ferry KOA
 - 
Barry from Hershey on 10/05/2021 09:41 PM
Has anyone stayed at the KOA in Harper's Ferry? If so, where do you cross over the Potomac, from the C&O Canal trail? We're considering staying there in a cabin or a tent site. Thanks for your response.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 10/05/2021 10:01 PM
To get from the C&O Towpath across the river to Harpers Ferry, you have to walk across the pedestrian portion/causeway of the railroad bridge that crosses the Potomac there at Harpers Ferry. To access the pedestrian causeway, you must climb the spiral stairs on the Towpath side of the bridge. You'd likely need to unload your gear from your bike to carry them up the stairs.

 
Edward from North Carolina on 10/06/2021 06:12 AM
I stayed next to it last week. It looked nice but, it is a little ways to get there, mostly uphill. Brunswick has a nice campground that is right on the trail. It's 7.5 miles away from Harper's Ferry and the KOA is not quite 6 miles round trip from the trail. Edward

 
Barry from Hershey on 10/06/2021 08:57 AM
Thanks for the information. I'm not certain that we'll stay in Harper's Ferry.

Page: 1 2 ... 101