Brunswick Bridge in Brunswick -
jodi from baltimore on 03/14/2019 10:37 AM
Has this bridge on the Path been repaired yet,ty
Rivnuts from Munhall, PA on 03/14/2019 07:59 PM
The National Park Service C&O Canal web site at:
indicates the towpath is still closed there and the temporary bridge which had been planned at that location has not proceeded.
You may want to look at the detour described at:
Perhaps there is some more current local knowledge that someone can provide
Stephen from Jamestown,NC on 03/12/2019 10:04 AM
Looking for advice/suggestions on best campsites around Williamsport. Something a little more upscale than primitive would be nice and within an easy distance to cafes,bars,food,etc. Thanks in advance.
Ted from Homestead, PA on 03/12/2019 04:17 PM
I've not camped in or about Williamsburg but I can recommend the Elmwood Farm Bed and Breakfast there. A nice remodeling of the old farmhouse there made for an enjoyable stay. The adjoining alpaca farm was also unique. Unfortunately it is a little far off the trail, albeit rideable. There are no shops or restaurants nearby but the owners were very accommodating in transporting us to a local restaurant for dinner.
trail conditions to expect in mid March? -
Megglands Best from Durham, NC on 12/19/2018 02:04 PM
Hi, my friend and I have been wanting to ride the C&O from DC to Cumberland for a while, and it seems like mid-March 2019 is the best time for our schedules. Does anyone have experience or advice for this time of year (even if the advice is "don't do it!").
We had hoped to camp, but the more I read the more that seems like a bad idea, between the freezing cold (would have to lug tons of gear) and the water pumps being shut off til April. So we're fine with finding lodging, but I'm wondering what to expect for trail conditions? For example, I know in the summer the tree cover and river keep the trail shaded and cool -- are these trees all bare in winter and letting sunlight in, or should we expect trail temps to be even colder than the forecasted temperatures? It seems like the temps range from 40s-60s during the day and only a little chance of rain, so I'm hoping the silver lining might be that we can avoid the numerous trail washouts. Is the scenery still worth seeing at the end of winter? Any other obvious reasons why I can't find a single report by someone who's done the trail in March? :)
Thank you for any insights you all can share!
John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 12/25/2018 05:22 PM
Most trips are taken from May to October. Depends how wet the winter was and if it gets time to dry out when the warmer weather finally arrives if a March trip is in the cards. It's a crap shoot really.
Last year may have been the worst I've ever seen it with regards to rain during the summer. So many people cancelled trips. Hopefully it's a one off.
It's probably gonna be cold and wet in March but you never know if it will get warm or not. I wouldn't go at this time personally as it could still be in the 30-40-50's if a late system comes through.
It can be done...hey people get muddy and wet in the heart of summer...but getting muddy and wet in March could be dangerous especially if you have a mechanical or physical breakdown and get struck in some of the more remote areas. I would just say proceed with caution and be prepared for anything.
HR from Keyser, WV on 03/10/2019 06:07 PM
Muddy, wet, soggy and partly snow covered between Cumberland and Spring Gap, March 10, 2019.
Attractions in/around Sharpsburg/Shepherdstown -
David Anderson on 03/07/2019 08:48 PM
I'll be riding Cumberland to D.C. April 18-21. Sharpsburg is about my halfway point and I've stayed at the Antietam Creek Campground before and remember seeing some advertisements for Battle of Antietam tours. Has anyone done these and are there other fun/cheap attractions nearby I could occupy myself with? I recently became fascinated anything Civil War and thought it'd be cool to loop something like this into my trip if there is time. What about other cool attractions along the way? Definitely planning a lunch stop in Harper's Ferry my third day.
Ted from Homestead, PA on 03/07/2019 09:33 PM
It's worth a short stop at Ft. Frederick. White's Ferry is rather unique although there's not much on the other side of the river if you take the ferry unless you want to ride on up to Leesburg. Shepherdstown is worth visiting if for no more than to get and ice cream cone. Check out the quaint coffee house in an old church in Brunswick. The falls at Great Falls is worth a peek also.
Parking a Car around Pittsburgh -
Jason from Toronto, Ontario on 02/06/2019 04:25 PM
I'm planning to ride the GAP out and back from Pittsburgh this year. I'm going to drive from Toronto (about 5 hours), leaving early in the morning so I can ride 80km or so day 1. I'll ride to end of the GAP (or just beyond) and back, staying in B&B's (etc).
I've done some reading on this topic but wanted to ask in this forum - where can I "safely" park a car close to the start of the trail (or even 5 miles or so along the trail), where I'm allowed to leave the car for 4 days or so? What are my options, which ones are free, or paid...both are fine to consider in my planning? Dropping off the car and picking it up will be done during the day.
LS Biker from Missouri on 02/07/2019 10:18 AM
Thanks for posting this as I have the same question. I do not know the safe areas to park and if I pay, what would be a reasonable amount to pay.
Paul from Pittsburgh on 02/11/2019 10:24 AM
According to their site, the First Ave Garage now advertises itself as long-term parking for GAP rides. They encourage you to notify the garage manager for multi-day stays and download the extended stay form. It's not cheap ($13 a day on weekdays, $6 a day on weekends), but it has 24 hour security and is probably one of the safest options.
As for free? I did the trip in 2013 and my friend decided to park his truck in an unmetered spot next to the Cork Factory in the Strip District. The truck was still there when we got back and was not ticketed. Not sure I would I would be comfortable leaving MY car there though.
John from Pittsburgh on 02/15/2019 05:06 PM
Besides the excellent advice for the others have given on this thread, you could also check out the parking lots across the street from PNC Park on General Robinson Way. I do not know their overnight policy but I have heard people have parked there for multiple nights. I would check with someone there to confirm. Anyways it’s right across the river, a quick hop over the bridge, and you are at the Medallion indicating the beginning of the GAP at Point State Park. Good luck!
Pat from Greencastle. IN on 02/16/2019 03:27 PM
My husband and are taking 8 days to ride the entire length of the GAP and C&O from Pittsburgh to DC in late June. Not sure if you were planning at least 1 hotel night or not, but the Hampton Inn, downtown Pittsburgh allows you to leave your car for extended days if you stay there and let them know. Maybe consider coming down the night before, and staying there? That would give you a safe, secure place for your car while gone. Just a thought!
LS Biker from Missouri on 02/18/2019 03:11 PM
Thanks for all of the great suggestions. I really like the Hampton Inn and it's location to the trail. Also, I have to spend the night somewhere. Enjoying the pre-planning during the cold and snowy winter.
Ted from Munhall, PA on 02/23/2019 10:02 PM
Another option might be to travel and stay a little further out of town in Homestead, PA which is right n the trail. There are two or three hotels in the large shopping area right along the trail and ample, free parking. It's about 8 miles from downtown. You could stay or park there and ride back into town if you wanted to see the city and the origin of the GAP Trail at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers where the Ohio River begins.
DRM from Wisconsin on 03/04/2019 10:03 PM
Could you be more specific about the hotels and shopping area in Homestead where one might park? Thank you!
Ted from Homestead, PA on 03/05/2019 07:56 AM
There are three hotels in the Waterfront shopping area through which the trail passes. They are: Courtyard by Mariott, Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express. I suspect you would be able to park a car in any of their parking lots simply by asking as there is ample parking at each. Aside from the hotel parking lots, there are acres and acres of free parking including covered parking adjacent to the now closed Macy's Department Store and Dave and Busters which are a couple of blocks from the hotel.
This shopping area (formerly the largest steel mill in the world) has virtually anything you might need EXCEPT for a bike shop. There are grocery stores (Costco and Giant Eagle), clothing/department stores (Target, Ross, Marshall's), specialty retail shops, restaurants (Burgatory, Bravo, Mitchell's, Red Robin,PF Chang, Primanti Bros, McDonalds, Chick Fil A), hardware (Lowes), etc.
There is also a large multi screen AMC theater facility across the street from the Mariott and the Hampton hotels.
I hope this provides the info you were looking for. If not, let me know.
DRM from Wisconsin on 03/05/2019 08:16 PM
Thank you! You have been very helpful!. I am very happy to have found this forum. Like another writer, I, too, am spending these frigid winter weeks (which is lasting waaay too long in Wisconsin), dreaming about and planning for my summer GAP trip. We are introducing our 14 year old son (who is not as highly enthusiastic about touring as his parents are) to bike touring on this trip. Any suggestions from anyone on how to make this more interesting/ fun for a young teen would be appreciated. I am researching away! (Have found all of the scary /spooky stories associated with Dead Man's Hollow!, We'll spend some extra time in Ohiopyle and raft and zip line as well)...
Ted from Homestead, PA on 03/06/2019 09:11 PM
It's been several years since I've tried to keep a 14-year old happy on a vacation trip but here are some thoughts. There is a large waterslide park (Sandcastle) at the west end of the Waterfront shopping area. There is also a large amusement park (Kennywood) between Homestead and Duquesne. Both would require the better part of a day and you may not wish to spend that much time.
The GAP and C&O trails are all about the history that spawned their existence and use. If you read about the history of the P&LE railroad and the industries along it as well as the history and design of the C&O Canal and the historical events along the way before you make the trip, you'll appreciate the trip much more. History may not be something he cares for but he certainly could write a lengthy paper on "How I spent my summer vacation" having studied, ridden and photographed the trip.
My last suggestion would be to make ample use of the locals in each community through which you pass or spend an overnight or those other trail riders that have already been where you are headed. They can provide more insight as to "what is down the trail" as you proceed. Inquire about quaint/unusual places to eat or visit.
DRM from Wisconsin on 03/06/2019 11:49 PM
Thanks! We are planning day #1 at either kennywood OR sandcastle ( he gets to choose) then will start biking the following day. I haven’t done much research into the railroad history yet, but will do wth your suggestion. He loves people and to make friends so will seek out some of that “trail magic” in the people we meet. We’re planning mostly B and B stays so that will help! Thanks again. Happy trails!
East to West, or visa versa, which is best? -
PJE from Iowa City, IA on 02/25/2019 05:24 PM
Siblings and I are biking the C & O/GAP trail in early June 2019 with a support vehicle. We can't decide which direction is best. Pittsburgh to Washington or visa versa.
Telo from Robinson PA on 02/25/2019 05:51 PM
Most people agree that travelling Eastbound from Pittsburgh to DC is a bit easier. The starting point at Pittsburgh is at elevation 710, and the elevation at DC is near 0, so just from that you have a net decrease in elevation of around 710 ft. Another huge advantage is the fact that the 16 mile segment between Frostburg MD and Cumberland MD drops about 1900 ft. making it a very easy trip down the mountain, as opposed to a tough uphill pedal if you start at DC. If you don't want to pedal uphill to Frostburg, there is a very interesting scenic railroad that follows the bike path between Cumberland & Frostburg that allows you to load your bikes onto the train and sit back and enjoy the fantastic view. In either direction though, it's a great trip that's not real difficult. (Unless the year happens to be 2018 and rains every day turning the C & O into a quagmire)
John from Pittsburgh on 02/25/2019 05:52 PM
Both directions are great!
My opinion is that I like to go Pittsburgh to DC. I live in Pittsburgh so it's kind of anti-climactic to arrive at something I'm familiar with...DC is somewhere I'm not from so it's kind of exciting to arrive there and see the buzz of the city and all of the sights.
The uphill on the GAP from Pittsburgh to the Continental Divide is barely noticeable. Then you are rewarded with 24 miles of downhill bliss at 1-2% grade to Cumberland. The C&O Canal from Cumberland to DC is very flat except for the locks where you get these little plunges down a few feet. Not much but at least you aren't going up them.
Others like the opposite direction because although they have to grind up the continental divide for 24 miles (really, it's not too bad though), they feel the gradual downhill over 124 miles to Pittsburgh was worth the sacrifice and they expend less effort.
Not sure if wind is any factor. Both trails meander in so many directions along different rivers and you are covered by trees in many places it kind of renders that subject meaningless.
It's a great debate that always brings up many different answers.
Ted from Munhall, PA on 02/25/2019 09:10 PM
The earlier commenters have provided good discussion of the pros and cons of travelling the GAP/C&O in each of the directions. I'll add a couple more observations. The weather could be something to consider if your itinerary is flexible given your use of a support vehicle. The C&O, especially the northern end from Little Orleans to Cumberland, can be a challenge and certainly less enjoyable following heavy rains as it can be quite muddy. So if there is rain in the forecast during the week, adjusting your schedule to travel that section on and after dry days would be more enjoyable. If there is rain in the forecast for the first day of your trip, starting in Pittsburgh is easier since the first 20 miles leaving the city is paved. The GAP trail beyond the pavement takes the rain much better than the C&O.
On an unrelated issue. I think you'll find the trip more enjoyable if you spend a little time before the trip studying the histories of the two trails (GAP and C&O) and the sites/towns along the way.
Gary from NC from Charlotte on 02/26/2019 11:23 PM
I have done it both ways. I prefer the DC to Pitt. The 24 mile grind from Cumberland was easier then the constant uphill for 120 miles . Get it done and your done.
But, riding into DC is nice.
I will see you all in July for my next trip. Always a fun adventure. Must be better then 2018.
Larry from Cumberland on 03/06/2019 07:53 PM
I have done the route both ways several times. Since you live in Iowa I strongly suggest you got DC to Pittsburgh. You are 5 hrs closer to home. Also the C&O is a less friendly surface to ride, you get the hard part done first. You only climb 650 from DC to Cumberland. The 23 mile climb out Cumberland is a easy 1 1/2 % grade. And a climb of 1200 ft. Then you have a fairly smooth down hill to Pittsburgh at 670 ft. DC to Pittsburgh is my favorite way because you have an easy ride at the end.
Both ways work.
keller8899 on 02/27/2019 10:39 PM
We're going to be riding from Pittsburgh to DC in the second half of April with our two kids (will be almost-2 and almost-4). Is there a good place to take a rest day half-way-ish? I know we could just hang around our campsite, but I'm wondering if there is anything in particular that our kids might find interesting to go and do.
Also, does anyone have any input on what the weather is generally like that time of year? How cold or hot does it usually get? I'm trying to look that info up on Google, but I thought that it might just be easier to ask people who are familiar with the area. (We'll be coming from MA, so we are well equipped if it will still be getting quite cool at night, but just want to make sure we bring the right gear.)
Kevin on 02/28/2019 09:07 AM
Your kids might be a little young for this and both towns are not close to half way but you could check out a Frostburg State or Shepherd University baseball/softball game. The schedules are posted on their school athletics page. I hope to do the trip in the fall and maybe see a football game. The actual halfway point is Oldtown. There is the School House Cafe and the The Irvin Allen/Michael Cresap Museum. Good luck!
Richard from DC on 02/28/2019 03:09 PM
The GAP and C&O are pretty remote in most places. I can't think of anywhere that is especially toddler-friendly. The more "civilized" places that fit your half-way criterion are Meyersdale, Frostburg, and Hancock although the last is more than half-way. Frostburg probably has the best selection of motels/hotels/eating places since it's a college town.
There is no usual weather in April. You're unlikely to encounter temperatures below 32 degrees or above 80, but it can be anywhere within that range with wind and rain possible. My advice would be to bring layers, including GoreTex, that will fit that range.
keller8899 on 02/28/2019 03:27 PM
Thanks for all the input! I doubt they'd have the attention span for a sporting event, so maybe trying to find some small place to go out to eat, and maybe a playground?? (Any chance any of the small towns we pass through have playgrounds?) might be what we aim for. Just letting them run around and blow off some steam will probably be fine.
As for weather, I guess our best bet will be to monitor the weather predictions closely as we get ready to head down that way, and then bring layers that seem appropriate for what we might see. And yes, rain gear is always part of our layering system, even if just for wind protection.
Ted from Munhall, PA on 02/28/2019 09:30 PM
Indeed the weather and trail conditions are quite variable in April as others have responded. Indeed, the temperatures can be quite varied as well as the amount of precipitation. As for a "halfway" layover, Cumberland, MD at mile 150 of the 334 mile trip is the most populated town on the trail between Pittsburgh and DC. There is a Fairfield Inn (one of the Mariott brands) immediately adjacent to the trail that might be a welcome respite from the trail at that point, especially if the weather has not been or is not ideal. There are a number of shops, restaurants, etc. within a few blocks of the Fairfield. It is a little pricey albeit perhaps not coming from MA.
In route to Cumberland from Pittsburgh there are a number of small, old coal mining villages through which the trail passes many of which have small playgrounds with swings, slides, etc. Most have some form of covered pavilions with benches that provide some shelter if rain is encountered. There are not as many opportunities nor are they in the same proximity to the trail itself along the C&O south of Cumberland.
The children may be most infatuated by the trains that parallel the trail over much of its distance. Unfortunately they run at night as well. :-)
Richard from DC on 03/01/2019 09:07 AM
There is a railroad museum in the abandoned train station right on the GAP in Meyersdale. It is probably perfect for 2 and 4 year olds. If I recall correctly, they even have at model train that runs around a track in a part of the museum. Meyersdale is a pretty good stop because there are some diners and, I think, an ice cream parlor, within a few blocks of the trail.
rdw47 from richmond va on 03/01/2019 11:04 AM
just don't plan on riding your bikes back up the hill in Meyersdale. lock them at the museum and walk down.
Chickadee from Placerville, CA on 03/03/2019 08:02 PM
Just FYI - we'll be riding the last two weeks of April on the GAP and C&O with our 3 year old and a bunch of friends and family in tow plus Grandma driving the SAG wagon. We're staying in Cumberland for our rest day over Easter weekend. Got a room at the Hampton Inn. What bike set up do you have for the kids? Hope to see you out there!
Larry from Cumberland on 03/06/2019 07:45 PM
I would suggest Cumberland which is where the Canal and GAP meet. The Musium at canal place is very kid centric and several places for kids to play.
Cumberland to Pittsburgh in one day -
Kevin from St. Michaels on 12/28/2018 12:00 AM
I floated this out there on Facebook and seemingly opened up a proverbial can of worms, but does anyone have any experience/advice for trying the entire GAP in one day. I may attempt it in summer 2019 if I can get the fitness. I'd be okay with delaying it a year if need be. The mid life crisis will still be there.
Thank you for any and all advice! Kevin
Anonymous from Hagerstown, Maryland on 12/28/2018 10:31 PM
Kevin--I have the experience, and my advice would be... DO IT. I have done it in both directions, as well as part of a nonstop venture from Pittsburgh to DC. Was 55 years old at the time.
Please everyone, let's not debate the merits of "why would you do that...You'll miss all the scenery". I agree - - you will miss a lot of sights. But that is not the question that was asked.
It is very doable if you're in decent shape. You need not carry a lot of supplies. With proper planning, there are plenty of places to stop along the way to refuel, etc. I carried only a hydration backpack and two waterbottles. Food was stored in the backpack.
I rode it on a hard tail with a smoother tire, because... That's what I have. Your speed will probably only be about 2 mph slower than it would be on the road with the same bike.
If I had to choose the direction... I'd go from Cumberland to Pittsburgh. Yes the 24ish miles to begin the ride will be 20-30% slower than the rest of the ride. But, it's out of the way in the beginning. I found the 60+ mile grind coming the other way from Connellsville to the Eastern continental divide to be a grind.
If you choose to do this mid summer, you should be able to finish before dark. But if you find the need to be riding at night, a small headlamp like ultra runners use is adequate. I added a small handheld flashlight when I went from Pittsburgh to DC thru the night.
If you have any specific questions... Please ask and I'll try to respond.
More advice... Go back another time and explore the things you've missed. There is a lot to see.
Darrin from Pgh on 03/04/2019 08:14 PM
I know a couple that did Pgh to DC on a tandem in 24 hours. Or that was their goal at least. I think they were late by a few minutes. They had support, meeting up with their sag crew at designated spots.
Just the GAP alone is a very doable goal for most able bodied people. That is, if it is preceded by months of high mileage training. But if you're asking the question, it probably means you aren't ready... yet. You may even already have the endurance but what about neck or back issues? Saddle sores, nerve numbness in the hands, etc?
But yeah totally doable! Build up to some high mileage days and you'll know if it's for you. I could probably swing it but have neck issues that make it not worth the aggravation. I can have just as much fun putting in 60 miles at slightly too fast a pace while fully loaded. That's how i'm handling my midlife crisis.
Larry from Cumberland on 03/06/2019 07:41 PM
One day to ride the GAP is a reasonable challenge. I would suggest Pittsburgh to Cumberland the last 23 miles is a easy down hill.