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Will it ever end

telo from pgh pa on 12/18/2018 9:45:13 AM
This year, even right now, has been so discouraging. Postponed my DC to Pgh trip 3 times in the past 18 months due to bad weather. The canal shut down for exactly these same reasons, so I guess rain & flooding will always be part of the equation. Hoping for a miracle by May.

kubotaki from Traverse City, MI on 12/18/2018 4:23:43 PM
Fingers crossed for you! I postponed mine 2 times within 2 month and squeezed it in on the tail end of the Potomac floods.

Keep the faith, it'll happen when it's right.

GAP/ C&O bike trip.

Don Nordgran from Vancouver, WA. on 10/15/2018 1:24:47 PM
My wife and I are both 67 yrs old. We started our trip from Pittsburgh on the GAP and finished on the C&O in DC. Oct. 2-13 totaling 360 miles, doing approx 30 miles a day staying in hotels/ b&b’s all the way.

The GAP trail conditions were great even after it rained on the trail a couple of nights. No sections of this trail were closed.

On the trail we gathered info on the C&O trail about all the detours and closures from other bikers and National Parks Website. The riders provided the best info and most updated info.

At Williamsport we chose to get off the trail cause of all the bad reports of mud, downed trees, washed out trail. We road hwy 63 to hwy 65 and toured Antietam National Battlefied. These hwys were very suitable to ride and ended the day in Shepherstown.
The next day we paid for the shuttle at Brunswick. Don’t ride this detour route. Too many blind corners, fast road with no shoulders, STEEP HILLY GRADES, and no pit stops available to the cyclist. We were dropped off at point of Rocks and continued our ride on the trail with only minimal and very doable detours.

Equipment: mountain bikes, waterproof panniers, handle bar packs.

Oct 13-15 in DC and then home.
Had a great time.

Kym from Spartanburg, SC on 11/1/2018 10:27:44 PM
Such an absolute pleasure for me to read about your wonderful trip. You have added to my enthusiasm for this journey, and I can't wait to go in May. Thank you for sharing your story. And I am pretty impressed you did it on mountain bikes!

Frances Foley from Vancouver, WA on 12/2/2018 4:02:14 AM
We are also in our 60s and planning a trip in May. Would love to hear more about your trip and where you would recommend staying, etc.

Don from Vancouver, WA on 12/2/2018 12:12:59 PM
Our bike trips over the years have included multi-surfaced roads and trails, therefore the mountain bikes. We have both mt bike tires and road slicks mounted on their own wheels with the same gear setups. No flats or mechanical problems. The front shocks offer comfort to the neck and shoulders thru long days on the different surfaces we encounter. Therefore we enjoy the time in the saddle rather than just endure a long hard ride. We "TOUR" rather than race from point to point. We stop often to see what you cannot see from a fast pace. This trip was a tour thru History: the steel industry, coal mining, the canal with the lock houses and the time to rescue several turtles and a praying mantis from the trail. We stopped to read the historical trail markers that took us back to another time in history. Hope you all have the time to enjoy this great trail system.

We used the Official Trail Guide Book and map to determine our mileage stops and hotels.

Because of the time of year we went and the very wet year that this area had, hotels were better than camping. Campsites looked in pretty ruff shape. High humidity in between Storm Florence and Michaels produced maneating mosquitos. Even when the tornado warnings came across our phones, we knew that this was part of the adventure of bike touring.

Enjoy your trip.

C&O ride report

John McBurney from Greenville SC on 10/14/2018 8:38:08 PM
Maybe before you think about doing this:

This bike adventure has come an end short of the original goal...I did not make it to Pittsburgh and will return home tomorrow from Cumberland MD arriving in Atlanta at 8am Sunday having completed 183 (plus 16) of the originally planned 335 miles.

Why did I fall short?

1. Got a late start Monday at noon and ran into the washout at Brunswick Md but would not try the work around in the dark. Mile 50.

2. Rode the road around the washout based on GPS. 16 miles. Long 10-12% grades on a 105 lb loaded bike. Legs pretty well fried. Made it only to mile 55 on the other side of the washout after hard 16 mile hill work out. Little or no food.

3. The biggest issue in terms of delay was from Point of Rocks to 3 miles short of Williamsport. This section took 4 hours for less than 10 miles. The trail was not just wet or muddy but essentially unrideable in this section and severely damaged from repeated floods. By the time I rolled into Williamsport (mm 100) at dark I was 40 miles behind schedule.

4. Load. I weighed out at 105 lbs fully loaded with water bottles. That’s a lot of bike to manage on a muddy trail.

5. Hiker biker camps were either standing in water or 6” mud. No flexibility in where to sleep at night.

What was good?

The people I met on the trail:

Bridgette the lovely young woman from London who is terrifying dear mum and dad on her now 6000+ mile post BREXIT family break-up US bike tour. Good luck in Berlin. Here’s to dual citizenship.

Sanjay the retired neuroscience PhD from Mumbai and more recently Cleveland who digs Dale Bredesen’s work on AD

Chris and Paul, WVU dental school classmates and friends who decided to do this ride to reunite after these 20’years.

Nancy and Sarah mother and daughter from Rockville MD riding the GAP/C&O to celebrate Sarah’s new MSW!

Dan the philosopher king of Paw Paw WV.

Equipment likes:

Crank Bros Double Shot Pedals. Can’t clog em but there’s a platform if your cleat comes off.

Challenge Almonzo tires 32c. Good grip - plenty of mud clearance.

Ortlieb panniers. Totally waterproof.

Gates carbon drive

New wheels built by Josh and Jonathan at Piney Mountain Bike Lounge. Those Velocity NoBS rims and Sapim Strong spokes never flinched.

Brooks B67 saddle.

Later...tomorrow it’s all aboard Amtrak!

kubotaki from Traverse CIty on 10/15/2018 6:00:15 PM

First off, congrats on having the guts to try. So many others have not even had the dream, let alone saddled up and went for it.

I too tried my first tour on the C&O and Gap, but I allowed 8 days for the trip, and couldn't have done it in a second less.

I cheated and took the unapproved "detour" around the Brunswick washout. I sounds like while it may not be the smartest decision, it saved my legs. I too found that every time I got off the trail, the surrounding "hills" were darn near unrideable due to the grade.

I'm also pleased to hear that at least one other person did the west bound ride into Williamsport. I was convinced I was the only one who didn't get the message. I was lucky enough to have a 29er mountain bike with wide aggressive tires which is the only reason that I made it through, with anything left in the tank.

I too would recommend that if you are using the park service web site for trail status, PLEASE pay very careful attention to the last update date in the corner. When I went 9/29-10/7 I found the site to be completely out of date and unreliable. Found many H&B sites that were unusable due to the flood, but showed as open on the NPS site.

Now for the good, and I want to encourage EVERYBODY to take a bike tour regardless of the location.

First and most important - The people you meet will make the trip, and memories that last a lifetime.

My peeps -
Barry - Durham, NC. Barry turned out to be my personal hype man, offering encouragement at every corner. We shared many meals, some even under the cover of a laundromat while raining.

Bob - Casual at every corner, and yet had experienced the world by bike. Stories to share if you took the time to ask, and listened.

Bonnie, Rose, and Mustache at the Desert Rose Cafe - I met Rose on the trail as she was ferrying a rider around the mud. She offered to come back and check on me, and I passed, but told her I'd see her at her Desert Rose Cafe in Williamsport. Great food, fun conversations, and felt like part of the family.

The owner of the Schoolhouse Cafe in Oldtown who was the Chief Cook, Waitress, Dishwasher, who literally did everything with a smile while taking care of all of us hungry cyclists.

So congrats John on the journey, and to everybody else out there reading this, take the leap and saddle up. The adventure is in the people and the experience. Get out there and ride, and know that however far you make it, take pride in the fact that you did it.

Ty from Wheat Ridge, Colorado on 10/15/2018 7:32:23 PM
I did the GAP and C&O from Pittsburgh to Washington DC from September 30 to October 8. I rode for 8 days and took a day off in Harpers Ferry. I didn’t have any problems. The GAP was great to Cumberland and the C&O a bit muddy between there and Hancock. I rode all of the paved Western Maryland Rail Trail (WMRT) that was accessible to/from the C&O. In Williamsport I took a detour on the highway to see Antietam National Battlefield (68 to 65 to 34) and rejoined the C&O near Sharpsburg. The C&O was okay between Harpers Ferry and Brunswick. I rode the official detour between there and the Point of Rocks. It was a beautiful ride on sometimes narrow roads but the max grade was only 5%. I never felt threatened as I was always in view of traffic. I rode the C&O from Point of Rocks to Whites Ferry and then took the ferry from there to Leesburg. I finished up my trip riding the paved Washington & Old Dominion Trail to Arlington and the paved Mt. Vernon Trail to Washington DC.

I have a 15lb road bike and carried 10lbs of gear with me. This included a few changes of clothes, rain gear, my hammock (with rain fly, bug net and straps), sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner, JetBoil, fork, spoon, bowl, cup, toiletries, camp towel, food, bike repair kit with minimal essentials and my journal.

I had no problem hammock camping along the way if anyone else is thinking of doing it.

Kym from Spartanburg, SC on 11/1/2018 10:21:15 PM
Hi John, I just talked with Jill today in the office about you, asking about your trip - small world! I know Jill through the chiropractic world. I found your blog post here as I start my plans to ride the 330 next May.

Current towpath conditions

jess on 9/11/2018 1:20:01 PM
Was planning on heading through on bike next week, does anyone have any info on the current conditions on the towpath? A bit concerned with Florence visiting nearby.

Beth from Minneapolis on 9/13/2018 8:21:46 AM
I’ve been closely watching it for my trip coming up. It seems to me that most of the storm’s impact with be south and miss the path.

Cathy from Pittsburgh on 9/14/2018 11:59:56 PM
I live in Pittsburgh and just watched the local weather. They are saying it will reach the Western PA area Mon. and Tues. By looking at the current projected path it could stay west and south of the C & O Towpath. Of course hurricanes are unpredictable. So bring rain gear and be prepared to be flexible.

Anonymous from Canada on 9/21/2018 10:19:46 PM
We rode from Harper’s Ferry to Williamsport and I have never seen such mud. Might be okay with mountain bikes but we had touring bikes with wider tires. Mud kept getting caked in the fenders. Not fun!

John McBurney from Greenville SC on 9/28/2018 10:34:35 AM
Any updates on Conditions? I’m leaving from DC to Pittsburgh on the 8th self supported. Planning to arrive in Pittsburgh on the 12th. Hoping Mother Nature will cooperate.

John McBurney on 10/10/2018 8:25:20 PM
Much of the towpath is is good shape but the section from beyond Shepardstown to just outside of Williamsport is darned near unridable. Certainly if you are loaded and planning a multi day tour I wouldn’t do it unless you are really experiened young and very fit

Confluence House Bed & Breakfast and Catering Services in Confluence

Anonymous on 10/9/2018 3:43:29 PM
FYI breakfast was not until 8:30 so not so good if you want an early start.

Trail conditions Harpers Ferry > Wash DC

John from Georgia on 10/2/2018 10:07:25 PM
Hi- I am currently hiking the Appalachian Trail and will be arriving in Harpers Ferry in a few days. Rather than taking Amtrak to Washington I am thinking about hiking the towpath instead. I know the towpath has been under water due to recent flooding around Harpers Ferry and down river

Does anyone know the current condition of the towpath between HF and Washington? I'm not concerned about surface mud or debris, mainly any wash outs or closures. Any info on the condition of the camps would also be helpful.


Jay from Martinsburg, WV on 10/4/2018 10:01:54 AM
Milepost 1–25
Including Georgetown, Washington D.C.; Bethesda, MD; Potomac, MD; Seneca, MD

Georgetown Locks 3 and 4 (MP 1)
Towpath Closed, Towpath detour between 30th Street and Thomas Jefferson Street in Georgetown. The surrounding area will be closed for construction. For more information
Lock 7 (MP 7)
Local detour
Rock Run (MP 8.8)
Towpath Closed, Find a detour over bridges at Lock 10 and 11, and a temporary bypass trail for approximately 0.2 miles between mileposts 8.8 to 9.0.

Billy Goat Trail (MP 9.9)
Closed, Section A
Closed, Section B
Open, Section C
Great Falls Tavern Area (MP 14)
Open, Olmsted Island and Olmsted Trail out to the Great Falls Overlook.
Open, Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center
Closed, River Trail
Towpath Closed, Due to construction, please use the marked towpath detour at Great Falls upstream of Lock 20. For more information.
Bridge Closed, Lock 19, Due to construction, please use the upstream bridge at Lock 20. For more information.
Closed, Mule-drawn boat rides. Boat rides resume in 2019 For more.

Milepost 25–50
Including Poolesville, MD; Whites Ferry, MD; Dickerson, MD; Point of Rocks, MD
Monocacy Aqueduct Boat Ramp (MP 42)
Closed, due to flooding, this area is closed until further notice.

Patty D. from Rehoboth, DE on 9/26/2018 2:41:57 PM
How are the conditions on the GAP Trail from Pittsburgh thru to Cumberland today?

David from Grafton on 9/28/2018 11:38:53 PM
We just got off the GAP and C&O. There were not any trees down or mud slides. The GAP surface was good despite 3 days of rain. The GAP is a well drained RR bed and the surface was great. The towpath was made for mules and when this soil get wet it turns to mud. Cumberland to Little Orleans had many puddles and sections of mud caused by puddles. We took the paved Maryland trail from Little Orleans and 13 miles of highway to Williamsport. From there we shuttled over to the Old Dominion trail. I think this was a good route because we heard of the deep mud and flooded sections of towpath. Contact 2WheelEscapes for shuttles. They will give you honest info on trail condition. Had a great time and will come back after a very dry summer.

Camping Supplies DC

John McBurney from Greenville SC on 8/19/2018 6:28:36 PM
I’m riding the C&O GAP trail starting in Georgetown on Oct 8. I’ll be traveling to DC from Atlanta to Union Station. Is there a camping supply store nearby where I could buy the little butane/propane canisters that go on an MSR pocket rocket camp stove? How about between Georgetown and Shepardstown WV?

Ty on 8/19/2018 8:16:47 PM
There’s an REI a mile away on 2nd & M. How are you shipping your bike?

Richard from Washington DC on 8/19/2018 8:21:32 PM
REI supposedly carries those. There is an REI about six blocks north of Union Station. That's in the wrong direction from where you want to go. I think that's the only sure place between Union Station and perhaps Ohiopyle. The C&O Canal is pretty barren.

Anonymous on 8/19/2018 8:26:17 PM
REI in Washington and Harper’s Ferry has camping/hiking stores

John McBurney from Greenville SC on 9/22/2018 3:07:45 PM
I’ll be coming on Amtrak. Thinking about smuggling a canister in my panniers on the train n

Cathy from Pittsburgh on 9/23/2018 5:43:59 PM
Call me old-fashioned, but if it is something you are instructed not to carry on a train, you should not carry it on the train. In this day and age law enforcement etc is alert to bad actors and you could be mistaken for one if you have a gas cannister in your bag. Perhaps you don't watch the news. There are people who are into setting off bombs in train stations. Just drop in an REI at your destination and pick one up there.

John from Greenbelt on 9/26/2018 3:53:20 PM
The REI is very close to Union Station, only a 10 minute walk and less than 5 min on bike. Easy option. Yes it's the wrong direction but not far enough away for that to make a difference.

John McBurney from Greenville SC on 9/28/2018 8:02:08 AM
Thanks to all for the info. Of course you are right that bringing a fuel canister on board is a bad idea born out of frustration over not knowing how I was going to get fuel for the first day. Now that issue is resolved. Hopefully REI will let me bring my loaded bike indoors and can make it a quick stop.

Liberty Convenience Store in Paw Paw

Swagman from LaGrange, GA on 3/17/2013 2:39:36 PM
Fantastic deli! There is also a little Italian Restaurant across the street. Great pasta, pizza and salads!

Darel from Norfolk, VA on 12/29/2013 4:57:40 AM
Sad to report that the Anthony’s Jr. the Italian Restaurant across the street is CLOSED. The Deli at Liberty is still going strong and cooking up a good breakfast too!

Jeffro from Greensburg on 5/19/2015 1:29:58 AM
Anthony's was delicious. It stinks that they are closed. I always would get off the trail at Paw Paw for a big plate of their spaghetti and meatballs. Plus, I kind of liked hanging out in town and talking with some of the friendly locals. Since this place has closed, we usually just ride on by now. There isn't much of anything else in town to warrant a detour off of the trail to see.

KWB from Lees Summit on 9/4/2018 4:48:40 PM
I will be riding my bike through this fall and is the Liberty still open? Any other places to eat in town/area?

Andrew from Pittsburgh on 9/24/2018 5:02:22 PM
The Liberty was open this past July. My daughter and I had a late lunch there. As mentioned above, it isn't a destination, but for food and drink, it works.

KWB from Lees Summit on 9/25/2018 4:02:50 PM

Bikepath Bed and Bath in Paw Paw

Chad E Lavender from Dixonville, PA on 6/14/2018 4:38:26 PM
Has anyone stayed here? If so, what was your experience?

Bikechick from Shepherds town on 7/26/2018 8:17:46 AM
Sorry this is so late. But I stayed there in 2016. Great experience! Owner is a canal steward and wonderful host! I plan to stay again.

Christopher Ormsby from Toronto on 7/26/2018 7:36:11 PM
Nothing fancy, but Dan makes a great host, and a better breakfast.

bobthebuilder from Cleveland Ohio on 7/26/2018 9:49:46 PM
We just completed the C&O and Gap on July 21st. Couldn't find lodging in Paw Paw so stayed in Little Orleans at the Hilltop Inn. 6 miles of the trail but they have a great shuttle service. By far the highlight of our trip. Don't miss this place!

Don from Dyer on 7/27/2018 11:48:26 AM
I stayed at Three Otters in that area. They will canoe you from the path across the river to their property and back. They were very friendly and accommodating. www.threeotters.com

Rich And Samantha kros from Stevensville md on 9/15/2018 10:22:31 PM
HEY Dan wanted to give you shout out after peddling from Cumberland to paw paw we stopped. all the camping areas mostly closed stopped at BIKEPATH bed and bath I've met a lot fine folks over my 65yrs but this guy was great. had to detour to 84marker he transported us last thing he told me was the adventure starts here he was spot on 2hrs to go 2 miles trail covered with 4" of muck and downed trees 5hrs to Sheppards town something my granddaughter will always remember. I'm sure to go back soon thanks Mr.Dan

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