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)
Condensed (starting posts and reply counts)
Fall in Ohiopyle
Fall in Ohiopyle, PA on the GAP
Page: 1 2 ... 91
Panhandle Trail
John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 02/23/2021 01:30 PM
This is somewhat GAP related. Currently, there is local trail that goes from Weirton, WV to Walkers Mill, PA. A proposed 2.27 mile extension would be on an abandoned rail line and would extend it from Walkers Mill to Carnegie, PA.


If you live in the area or use the trail, there is a “Letters will be accepted” link in the article to provide feedback and tell the Borough of Carnegie how much you’d like to see this extension happen. You can do so through the end of March.

This has been considered one of the easier and more straightforward extensions out there in this area.

After this extension is in place, this would leave one final missing link...Carnegie to Pittsburgh. Local advocates think some sort of protected sidewalk on the Port Authority West Busway could get riders safely from Carnegie to Carson St in Pittsburgh and connect to the GAP. Others have suggested building a trail alongside Chartiers Creek all the way to the Ohio River. There also appear to be some rail lines coming out of Carnegie heading towards the Ohio River but I do not know if they are active or abandoned.

This second extension of the Panhandle would be much trickier of course but we have to take victories when you get them!

Many people who use the C&O/GAP on cross country trips often find it hard to get between Pittsburgh and West VirginIa and this extension, while not a total solution, brings this reality one step closer.


Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 02/23/2021 11:31 PM
Unfortunately a safe, tour bike route from Carnegie to Pittsburgh is not likely to be seen in my remaining lifetime. As John notes the proposed extension of the Panhandle Trail from Walker’s Mill would be a good prelude however.

John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 02/24/2021 10:43 PM
It’s so sad that there isn’t a workable solution to make this happen. I know it’s not an easy connection but are there any actual plans in place? I’ve don’t believe I’ve seen any. It’s seems like it’s nothing more than a few random ideas being exchanged on various cycling message boards. Like Rivnuts said, it could be years or decades before anything serious is proposed, if ever.

One could bypass Pittsburgh altogether and connect to the Montour Trail at McKeesport but a lot of people like going through Pittsburgh (restaurants, hotels, bike repairs), plus it’s a fun ride in and around the city on the GAP. Others may find the cut through from McKeesport to Clariton to be challenging but certainly not as challenging as getting from Carson St in Pittsburgh to Carnegie.

Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 02/25/2021 09:50 AM
The primary challenges in linking Downtown Pgh to Carnegie and the Panhandle Trail would appear to be the terrain between the two and the existing infrastructure, i. e. roads. The first is hilly and the latter are narrow and winding. Conquering those two is a major challenge.

One possible solution for bike tourers to get between downtown Pgh and Carnegie would be to take a Port Authority bus, I.e. Route G2 via the west busway, all of which have bike racks. Unloading your gear from the bike and carrying your gear onto the bus would be a pain but can be done. The Pedalshift Project host has explained that plans for a bike tour can incorporate modes of transportation other than the bike to complete or enhance a particular adventure.

GAP Trail Section Closure
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 11/14/2020 09:20 PM
Just a reminder below about the multi-month closure of a section of the GAP Trail outside Pittsburgh.

OCT 30 2020 | Winter Construction to Close 10-Mile Section near Boston

The Regional Trail Corporation, which owns and manages significant sections of the Great Allegheny Passage between Homestead and Connellsville, announced that it will close the GAP to all travelers between mile marker 120.9 (the Buena Vista trail access area and parking lot) and mile marker 131.1 (where the GAP crosses Liberty Way in Port Vue, near McKeesport), beginning November 16, 2020.

This closure is planned to last for five months – at least until April 15, 2021, and perhaps slightly longer depending on winter weather and the progress of contractors. There is no posted or easy detour, as nearby roads are hilly and narrow. We will keep www.gaptrail.org updated on progress as we receive updates from the Regional Trail Corporation.

This closure will allow contractors deployed by Elizabeth Township to install municipal sewer lines underneath the GAP for approximately nine miles. Long-term benefits include the replacement or repair of culverts that divert stormwater runoff under the GAP, and a complete trail resurfacing between Boston and Buena Vista.

Our best advice to thru-riders, aside from shortening your trip, is to arrange a shuttle between McKeesport and Buena Vista. The following businesses may be able to serve you: Bill’s Car Service (412-855-4484), Wilderness Voyagers (800-272-4141), or 2 Wheel Escapes (240-674-7626).

Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 12/04/2020 11:04 PM
As of this morning, the portion of the GAP from Port Vue to Boston is open. Conversely there is indeed a Trail Closed sign on the trail leaving Boston toward Dravo Cemetery.

Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 02/24/2021 03:59 PM
Two announcements were posted on the GAP website on 2/22/21. At first they both appeared to be the same as those posted on 11/25/20 and 10/30/20 pertaining to the closures of the Paw Paw Tunnel and a 10-mile section of the GAP Trail respectively.

The new post regarding the Paw Paw Tunnel closure appears to be the same as the announcement last fall of its closure until mid-2022 and the arduous detour up and over the tunnel. At first glance the new post regarding the closure of the 10-mile section of the GAP Trail also appears to be the same as the earlier announcement. There is one subtle difference however. The original post indicated that that section would be closed "at least until April 15 2021". The latest post states that it will be closed "at least until late April 2021". This subtle change suggests that the work on this trail section is somewhat behind the original schedule. Perhaps the recent snows in the Pittsburgh area have impacted winter construction.

It would be well advised for those planning an early May trip to monitor the GAP website for any updates about the reopening of that trail section.

Suggested portion of trail
Brian from Newnan, Ga. on 02/11/2021 10:46 AM
Looking to ride approximately 150 Mi of trail.
For myself, my girlfriend, ??(maybe) and others ??(very maybe)
Advise on what could be considered the most scenic & historical points of interest.
Want to camp (improved sites),airbnbs or hotel,known good grub but staying true to the trail route as possible and away from big cities.

Big on list is natural beauty &wildlife viewing.
Avoiding worst time of year for black fly, no seeums and mosquitos.

Thank you in advance for any replies.

John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 02/11/2021 11:03 AM
Brian, can you give us a starting city/ending city range? Are you doing the C&O (DC to Cumberland) or the GAP trail? (Cumberland to Pittsburgh)?

I’m sure people here will chime in once we know a few things. Are you flying/driving into DC?


Bill in Houston from Houston on 02/24/2021 11:14 AM
With no other info, I would say to just do the GAP. Good trail, 150 miles, nice amenities, good grub.

Liberty Trike e-trike.
Ken J. from Lafayette Oregon 97127 on 02/13/2021 01:06 PM
I have a E-trike. Can I use on trail? Thank you. kenj.

John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 02/13/2021 06:25 PM
Ken J. - Definitely! The GAP (Cumberland to Pittsburgh) is old rail trail with crushed limestone. You’ll be fine. The C&O (DC to Cumberland) is a little bit trickier. There are some parts that are old mule paths and dirt tracks with grass around them. Not bad but you have to watch for tree roots and rocks. But not all of it is that bad. The Park Service has been adding segments of crushed limestone down to look and feel like a rail trail so progress is being made. But the C&O is a bit rougher in parts.

Don’t forget to divert off to the paved Western Maryland Rail Trail that parallels the C&O for 20+ miles on both sides of Hancock. A nice diversion from the dirt and sometimes mud.

Also, if they get the ferry situation fixed (see the thread here in this forum about that), you could do DC to Leesburg, VA on the paved Washington & Old Dominion Trail, then cross over the Potomac and hop onto the C&O at Whites Ferry, MD. This will add 10 miles but it’s paved (though admittedly not as scenic). The only down side to taking the W&OD is you will miss Great Falls which is nice. On the positive side, you can access all of Leesburgs restaurants and lodging if that’s your thing. It all depends what you value on your trip and your wants and needs.


Bill in Houston from Houston on 02/24/2021 11:12 AM
We rode a bit of the C&O Trail near Cumberland. There were stretches that I would call "singletrack", where the trail was about 10 inches wide of dirt, and then there was tall grass on either side. Plus there were some muddy stretches. I'm not sure how well a trike would do with either scenario.

Comfort Inn Connellsville in Connellsville
Rick on 02/23/2021 10:03 AM
Planning on camping at the Adirondack type shelters just outside Connellsville. Appx. 58 mile day so a shower would feel good. Anyone used the shower at the Comfort Inn Motel? Cost, etc?

John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 02/23/2021 01:37 PM
Get there early! The Adirondacks fill up quick in summer and I ended up having to put my tent on the grass.

Not sure about hotel costs or shower availability outside of a hotel, I’m sure someone will chime in.


Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 02/23/2021 11:21 PM
A couple of years ago when the now Comfort Inn was the financially-ailing Cobblestone Inn, there were notices posted in the Adirondack shelters that bikers could go there, get a shower and use the Internet for $10. I don’t know if the comfort Inn still offers that opportunity or not. You can call them to see. The place is only a few years old so I would expect things inside to still be suitable for showering and the like. It’s just a short 1/4-mile or so beyond the Adirondack shelters.

If the o fort Inn no longer offers that service, you might want to consider camping at the Uniontown (Connellsville) KOA Campground. While it is primarily a campground for RV’s, there is a nice designated area for tent camping, some with and some without electrical outlets albeit with little shade. However, they have showers, a pool and a gift shop with ice cream and snacks. This KOA is located right on the GAP Trail about 3 miles before you get to the Adirondack shelters in Connellsville. There are no Adirondack shelters per se’ at the KOA but they do have some small, 4- and 6-person log cabins there. I’ve not stayed in any of those cabins but they look ok from the exterior. You’d have to contact them about rates and availability of those cabins. The tent sites are not heavily used so I suspect you would’t need an advance reservation simply to tent there.

Hope this info helps.

Comfort Inn Connellsville in Connellsville
Rick on 02/23/2021 10:02 AM
Planning on camping at the Adirondack type shelters just outside Connellsville. Appx. 58 mile day so a shower would feel good. Anyone used the shower at the Comfort Inn Motel? Cost, etc?

Whites Ferry Update
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 02/06/2021 05:58 AM
See the article below for an update on the negotiations in an attempt to reopen Whites Ferry:


John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 02/06/2021 02:05 PM
Thanks for posting Rivnuts. It doesn’t look like any progress has been made sadly according to this article. For anyone traversing the C&O, this means no Leesburg, VA restaurants or lodging. This also means there will be zero chance at connecting with the Washington & Old Dominion Trail until this is resolved.


Willy from Alexandria,VA on 02/06/2021 09:29 PM
Well -it is not zero chance. Take W&OD to Purcelville.
Then take surface streets to Brunswick,MD.
You don't have to take the Berlin turnpike the entire length to Brunswick.
Using Google maps, I took a a relaxed tour through farmland roads mostly.
Granted going from Brunswick to Purcelville means going up a gnarly hill for a few miles coming out of Brunswick, but its doable.
I also hope that the Whites ferry issue gets resolved soon. I always loved the ferry ride across the Potomac.

Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 02/06/2021 10:51 PM
John W: Between the White’s Ferry fiasco and the Paw Paw Tunnel bypass, the trip down the C&O won’t be as enjoyable. At least, I think, they are doing some more resurfacing south of Edward’s Ferry.


John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 02/07/2021 09:17 AM
Willy - Thanks for a alternate route to get to the W&OD! Let’s hope this gets resolved. It also sounds like some local drivers are not happy that the ferry has stopped either.

Rivnuts - Yeah it sounds like that Paw Paw Tunnel bypass is going to be tricky. I may just pass up a potential Pittsburgh to DC trip this summer and look at other trails. Have they given a timeline on when it will be back to normal? So happy to hear that more repaving is being done!

Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 02/07/2021 12:14 PM
John W: Between the White’s Ferry fiasco and the Paw Paw Tunnel bypass, the trip down the C&O won’t be as enjoyable. At least, I think, they are doing some more resurfacing south of Edward’s Ferry.


John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 02/11/2021 09:45 AM
More news on White’s Ferry. Like I’ve been saying, I hope the municipalities, counties and state DOT’s on both sides of the river are drawing up plans for a new bridge somewhere nearby. The re-opening of this ferry just doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.


Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 02/11/2021 10:05 AM
Disappointing indeed. I admit that I don’t have any real skin in the game but it seems both sides are pretty well dug in in their positions. The current situation seems to be lose-lose positions both for the parties involved and the public. While a new bridge may be the best alternate solution for the locals in that area, it removes one of the notable features of the Towpath adventure.

That said, I would think a new bridge would require more disturbance of the properties on both sides of the of the river and result in still more traffic and requiring a large public fund expenditure.

John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 02/11/2021 11:18 AM
I’ve resigned myself to the fact that the ferry crossing at Whites Ferry will likely be gone forever. I’m glad I was able to use it a handful of times on my travels and look back upon it fondly. I know there are detours much father away (which I might try one day).

Oh well...the C&O is beautiful on its own and we’ll just have to accept and make due with what’s available on the Maryland side. If they ever reach an agreement and it opens back up, I’ll consider it a bonus.


Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 02/13/2021 08:00 AM
The Whites Ferry Operation has been sold with hopes to settle the quarrel with Rockland Farms and reopen the ferry. See this report at :


wkr from Brunswick, MD on 02/13/2021 08:56 AM
I agree on the idea of using roads to connect between the tow path and the W&OD if that's your goal. There are some great "gravel" bicycle routes in Loudoun County between Brunswick and Purcellville. People come to the area specifically to ride there. On rides from home to Purcellville I've had times where I had no cars at all pass me between Lovettsville and rt 7. There is more traffic once you get close to Purcellville but inside the city limits the speed limits are very low and seem to be aggressively enforced.

John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 02/13/2021 02:05 PM
Whoa! Excellent news! Let’s hope for an agreement and things get back to normal.

Thanks for sharing Rivnuts.

Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 02/13/2021 05:16 PM

I’ve ridden the WOD from DC to Purcell and then the roads on to Harper’s Ferry. I’m intrigued by your revelation regarding gravel routes from Brunswick to Purcellville. Be a rather lazy sort, are there existing public Strava routes of those gravel paths rather than my Googling and trying to find such routes on my own in unfamiliar territory?


wkr from Brunswick, MD on 02/13/2021 06:11 PM
I don't use strava but I just put something into ridewithgps (which I'm pretty new to) that will take you from the C&O to the W&OD: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/35184094

There are, of course, other options but this one basically takes you straight there and is dirt/gravel most of the time. If you want to avoid all the climbing towards the beginning you can go all the way to Lovettsville on 287 and then turn right onto sout church st and then meander over onto the rest of the route above.

I just remembered there are some recent videos on youtube from some riding in loudoun county:

Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 02/14/2021 03:34 AM

Thanks for the Ridewithgps map and the YouTube links. Now to see how to incorporate some of those in my next trip. Heck, I have nothing else to do as a winter storm approaches the ‘Burgh.

Rivnutst the Lazy One

wkr from Brunswick, MD on 02/14/2021 02:27 PM
Good luck! I know about your weather up there. My Mother's family was from the Uniontown area, just down the road from you. :)

Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 02/15/2021 02:25 PM

I looked at that ridewithgps route from Brunswick to Purcellville. I love it. I would never have found that route. (Not sure if I'll be able to follow it without a wrong turn or two. :-)) But I'm certainly going to give it a try. The max grade is only around 4% which is ok. I love the farm scenery along the way. I'm definitely going to try this on a future trip. I'd actually like to overnight at one of the farms along the way if they'll permit it.

Thanks a lot for that route.

wkr from Brunswick, MD on 02/15/2021 04:53 PM
One thing about riding in that part of loudoun county is that you've got a ridge to the west that you can't go over (with a paved road that runs parallel to it, mountain rd), 287 on the east, then 9 followed by 7 in the south. So, you can hardly get lost. ;) You might end up on someone's driveway rather than a dirt/gravel road but that's about the worst of it.

JJ Biker from Reston, VA on 02/17/2021 11:57 AM
White's Ferry not over with....a new buyer is finalizing details to purchase the ferry to resume service. So no long detours from Point of Rocks, etc


Trail surface between Hancoock and Cumberland?
Kevin from St. Michaels, MD on 02/10/2021 11:05 PM
Does anyone know how the trail surface is between Hancock and Cumberland? Is it crushed limestone , dirt, etc? I'm wondering which bike(tire size) to use for an overnighter this spring. Thank you for your time!

Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 02/11/2021 10:23 AM
The Towpath surface itself between, Cumberland and Hancock is basically compacted native earth with some sporadic gravel. There are sections with roots and rocks as well. Couple that with having to take the bypass up and over the PawPaw Tunnel this year and its my least favorite portion of the trip from Pittsburgh to DC. If it is dry it’s rideable even on a road bike with narrow, say 28 or 32 mm, tires. However, if it’s wet, it is a much more challenging and less pleasant ride through puddles and mud. Under those conditions, wider knobby tires would be safer and more effective.

You do have the option however of leaving the Towpath to Hancock just beyond 15 Mile Creek by transferring to the paved Western Maryland Rail Trail (WMRT) that parallels the Towpath into and beyond Hancock.

Read This: More on C&O Water
Adama from DC on 09/27/2020 03:33 AM
Hi everyone...I just read this on Reddit. It helps explain my observation Last week about the removal of handles from a bunch of pumps...Get your filters!!...

Important info for folks who ride the C & O
After a trip for the last few days on the towpath and finding the wells shut off again (although they were on last week), I bumped into a ranger who gave me some info that folks might want to know.

Apparently a few stretches of the wells came back with E. Coli so many need to be shut down. While the wells are technically supposed to be ground water at 100 feet, the Potomac is inevitably leeching in and contaminating the wells often. Understandable.

But the important info he gave me: Spring of 2021 the entire C and O well system is going to become non-potable water. So the pumps will be on, but any water coming out will have to be treated. The long and short is that they used to treat with iodine, but due to that not being good for everyone, and a chlorine system is too expensive for the park service to absorb, the water next year will need to be treated before using. He said it will be on the NPS website when the time comes, and signs and info will be at each pump.

Unfortunate, but good to know.

John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 09/28/2020 11:15 PM
Geez, I hope this doesn’t come to fruition. I love the drinking water availability along the C&O and will be sad to see it go away. Yes, we’ll still be able to rinse off or dunk our heads in the water but being able to drink it is what made it great. I just wonder if they let them go for a long period of time, could they ever revive them?

Oh well, we’ll just have to carry our own water or bring a filtration system.

MfromHouston from Houston on 02/10/2021 09:13 AM
Does anyone know the status of NPS not treating water along GAP trail?

The NPS cutting something out that affects .5% at high doses (source Canada Allergy Institute) of the population is not tolerable. Seems like another way they trim expenses.

John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 02/10/2021 02:40 PM
I’m guessing we’ll know sometime in March or April when everyone’s first planning their trips and the NPS makes a decision to treat them or not. I know everyone here is hoping they continue it.

Someone on here made a good argument....can’t recall the exact details....but they said it’s actually cheaper for the Park Service to treat the wells with iodine as the these water sources are life savers for people who misjudge their water situation and might get caught between towns. Cheaper than getting billed for ambulance bills retrieving people in dire straits.

That said, if E. Coli becomes an issue, hopefully they’ll just mark the bad ones as non-potable and keep the iodine treated ones active. I can’t imagine all of them are being leeched by the Potomac. Hope not anyways!


Snow and ice on C&O
Alanm9 from Manassas VA on 02/06/2021 07:26 AM
2/6/21: can anyone tell me the surface conditions between point of rocks and shepherdstown?

Adama from DC on 02/07/2021 02:54 AM
Looks like a few more inches today. In general, snow and ice stay longer on the path because of a number of factors, esp the low sun angle and the light surface color. That is a wooded stretch and my guess is you’re looking at another week before it is snow ice free.

Paw Paw tunnel trail
DAK from Marienville on 02/06/2021 09:44 AM
Long day to ride from Cumberland to Hancock, with having to "portage" around tunnel. Any info on condition of trail? Will be riding in 2nd 1/2 of May 2021. I realize conditions can change, but is the bypass trail new, or forest roads, etc??

Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 02/06/2021 10:48 AM
I think “old goat path” is the best description.

Mask Requirements in National Parks
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 02/02/2021 03:33 PM

The the Department of the Interior (DOI) and its National Park Service (NPS) have announced their new policy to implement one of the new presidential executive orders. According to reports:

“NPS will now require all visitors and employees to don masks inside buildings and facilities and on NPS-managed lands "when physical distancing cannot be maintained," according to the DOI. For example, a mask will be required when a trail is too narrow or is busy, on overlooks or in historic homes.”

If/how that will be implemented and enforced along the C&O Towpath is uncertain at this time.

Gap Trail Bikers Campground in West Newton
DNap from Richmond,VA on 11/08/2020 05:39 PM
This was my last stop for the night before Pittsburgh Excellent stopping spot for camping. They have a fully enclosed lobby/pavilion, kitchenette, bathroom and heated showers. The camping space is massive with grilling areas and seats to just view the river. The pavilion has a TV with cable to watch sports and other channels. Great setup that fully supports bikers on the GAP. Loved it here and would highly recommend!

Adama from DC on 01/29/2021 12:38 PM
Hi - planning a Spring trip and saw this. Very encouraging and makes me want to stay here.

Any other thoughts about the Campground? This was the only hit that came up when I searched the Forum about it.

Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 01/29/2021 05:16 PM
This campsite is as described albeit the “pavilion” is not fully “enclosed” but is fully “covered”. I myself would not describe the camping space as “massive” particularly compared to others along the GAP Trail such as Husky Haven. That said, it is a nice camping site about 35 miles from downtown Pittsburgh. There are a number of places to eat within walking distance along with a good bike shop there also.

If all the amenities noted are important to you, I would recommend you call ahead of time to insure they all will be available in the early spring touring season

You can find more info about that campground at:


Adama from DC on 01/30/2021 12:42 AM
Thank you! Thoughts about the Outflow Campground in Comfluence?

Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 01/30/2021 07:37 PM
It’s a nice, state-operated campground with a large RV clientele. It has a large shower house. It sits at the base of the Youghiogheny River dam (hence the name) and is a short ride into the small town of Confluence. There are a handful of eateries in/near town and a capable bike shop. All in all it’s a nice place to overnight albeit a little pricey for a tent site compared to others along the trail

Note that you have to make a prior reservation online via the state recreation website as opposed to simply walking in.

Page: 1 2 ... 91