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Shuttle service after coming off the ferry at Leesburg, VA
cyclist from Missouri on 02/12/2020 02:45 PM
Does anyone know of a shuttle service at Leesburg, VA., once you come off the ferry to Leesburg? We are staying at an Air B&B, so I'm not sure how we will get into town.

Lucas from Fairfax on 02/12/2020 02:49 PM
There’s no shuttle. Once I had a friend nearby pick me up and take me to downtown Leesburg. The second time I just rode down 15 into town. The cars move fast on 15 but there’s a decent sized shoulder and I didn’t feel unsafe. It’s not a long ride into town.

cyclist from Missouri on 02/12/2020 03:17 PM
How many miles would you say it is to Leesburg on 15?

Anonymous on 02/12/2020 03:57 PM
try Uber or Lyft and request a large vehicle.

Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 02/12/2020 04:18 PM
Its about 3 miles from the intersection of White’s Ferry Rd and Hwy 15 and downtown Leesburg. While there indeed a shoulder about 2 miles of that, the shoulder stops as you approach downtown. There are sidewalks for most of that distance if you don’t want to ride on the street.

cyclist from Missouri on 02/13/2020 12:20 AM
Thank you for the helpful information.

bike traveler from Austin, Texas on 02/13/2020 12:21 PM
I passed through White's Ferry and Leesburg biking Pittsburgh to DC last July. Leesburg is bigger and busier than the other towns on/near the C&O. The auto traffic is heavier and faster. If it were me, I'd look for a way to avoid biking those two miles.

If you stay at a Leesburg motel, they may have a shuttle that can carry you between the ferry stop and the motel.

Rick from Grafton, Va on 02/20/2020 03:30 PM
About 4 years ago 1 of the chain motels like Days Inn, etc offered a shuttle. We called and the driver was there within 30 min. Darn, I can't remember the motel name. They didn't really advertise. We asked.

Arminius from Richmond, VA on 03/11/2020 01:53 PM
The ride from White's Ferry into Leesburg isn't bad at all. As previous commenters said, the shoulder is very wide on 15. I've never felt nervous. Once you get to Leesburg I'd take 15 into town instead of the bypass as the traffic could get pretty hairy.

which direction
Robert Mull from Chippewa Twp PA on 03/03/2020 10:25 AM
If riding the entire length of both trails, which direction do you prefer, DC to Pit, or Pit to DC … and why ...

Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 03/03/2020 01:29 PM
See responses to recent same question on this forum.

Harpers Ferry footbridge closed indefinitely
Ray (webmaster) from on 02/21/2020 12:14 PM
News article confirms forum discussion from a couple weeks ago...

Harpers Ferry, W.Va., footbridge is closed indefinitely after December train derailment

Washington Post, 2.21.2020

A footbridge used by hundreds of thousands of hikers each year to cross the Potomac River in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., is closed indefinitely, National Park Service officials said.

The pedestrian path was damaged two months ago when a CSX freight train derailed on the tracks next to it.


Full text of article:

John from Pittsburgh, PA on 02/25/2020 12:23 PM
Thanks for passing that along Ray.

I wonder how long this downed connection from the C&O to the town of Harpers Ferry will last? Hopefully a solution will be found soon.

As of now it looks like I’d make Shepherdstown my sleeping destination when in this area.

Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 02/25/2020 01:52 PM
John: If you truly would prefer to stay in the Harpers Ferry area and the pedestrian bridge is still closed, you might want to consider the Hillside Hotel in Knoxville, MD. I stayed there a few years ago. It is/was older and rather modest. There was a decent restaurant across the street as well. It is also an uphill ride from the trail up Sandy Hook Rd. It is about 2 miles from the trail at the pedestrian bridge.

John from Pittsburgh,PA on 02/25/2020 07:35 PM
Interesting suggestion Rivnuts. The location certainly would work.

How did you reach town from the trail? Can you access the Sandy Hook bridge from the trail, it’s really high up there?

Oh I see it now. Looks like you have to exit at Knoxville and get to Sandy Hook. Doable mileage for sure though. I will definitely consider this.


Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 02/25/2020 10:49 PM
John: You can get onto Sandy Hook Rd readily from the trail. Then take Sandy Hook Rd up to Keep Tryst Rd. No way, need or desire to get up onto Rt 340. I suggest you call ahead to ensure the "hotel" is open. It was a low budget/cost operation but it was clean and quiet as I recall.

Willy from Alexandria VA on 02/25/2020 11:11 PM
Hillside Hotel is still open.

I stayed there twice during my up and back DC to Pittsburgh this year.

It seems to be thriving.

And Yes I give a hearty thumbs up to the Guide House Grill Across the street.

And for those who wish, there is a well stocked liquor store just next to the Hillside in case you need a sip of medicine during your travels.

Willy from Alexandria VA on 02/26/2020 11:09 AM
Oh yeah another thing...
You can access Keep Tryst Rd from the C&O canal at approximately mm58. Look for the sign directing you to the Appellation Trail as it leaves the C&O and goes up the hill.
After crossing the train tracks go to your left on Keep Tryst Rd. It is 1.8 miles to the Hillside Hotel.

John from Pittsburgh,PA on 02/26/2020 07:19 PM
Thanks to both of you for the directions and suggestions. I can clearly see the Keep Tryst Rd, Appalachian Trail, and the hotel clearly on Google Maps now. It all makes sense.

I would definitely book the hotel before committing to that ride into town. With HF potentially inaccessible, this hotel might see a huge uptick in guests.

So cool it has a restaurant across the street as well as a liquor store next door. What more does a touring cyclist need?! ; - )

Dravo Landing Campsite in Buena Vista
Terry from JOhnstown on 02/23/2020 06:06 PM
Can we stay overnight at Dravos landing with our motor home

Rivnuts from Homestead. PA on 02/24/2020 12:23 AM
If you are referring to the trailside camping area at the historic Dravo Cemetery, then no. There is no motorized vehicle access to that camping area. There is a vehicle parking lot at the river launch area at Buena Vista and at Boston which are on either side if Dravo Cemetery. However, there is not typically over night parking at either and would likely result in a visit from the community police during the night if parked there all night without any prior notification of your presence.

C&O MD to DC - fatty on a fatty in 4 days?
dcswindler4 from Culpeper, VA on 02/04/2020 01:04 PM
Hey everyone, Just want to get your opinions. I'm thinking about doing the C&O from Cumberland to Georgetown in early July (weekend after Independence Day) Saturday to Tuesday on a fat bike pulling a modified bob ibex trailer (fatty on a fatty, I'm 34, 5'-6", 215lbs, muscular build that can benefit from some sit-ups and less beer). I've never done any long distance riding, I'm usually limited to riding only a hour at a time due to my schedule and can do 8-12 miles in that hour fairly easily (assuming 6mph average on the trail). Planning it right now as a solo trip with the possibility of a friend joining if hes in town that time frame (he has a 27.5 giant MTB...a Talon 3 maybe). Planning to camp each night at H/B sites.

Do you think I am allowing enough time to complete the trail for someone with limited distance training? Just train more and get more saddle time? Should I reconsider? Thoughts?

Tom from Robinson Twp on 02/04/2020 02:39 PM
If you have given it this much thought, you know you have to do it. At 34 yrs old you can overcome any obstacles you may run into on this trail. As you said, get some saddle time because if you don't, there will be no part of that saddle that will be comfortable to sit on come day 2. Rain and heat are two things that might slow you down in early July. Just stay hydrated and hope for good weather. Cumberland to DC is a nice easy pace for a 4 day trip. That's good because there is so much to see historically and the natural beauty of this area is something you won't soon forget. You really don't want to rush through, especially if this is your first trip. Check out a site called "Pedalshift" for a really good look at all the hiker/biker camp sites. Also, if you have access to "google earth", you can actually see what all portions of the trail looks like with their street-view option. As I said, you have to go through with this because you will regret it if you don't. I'm exactly twice your age and I'm attempting another solo DC to Pittsburgh trip in June. If I can do it, you sure can.

Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 02/04/2020 07:32 PM
I concur with Tom from Robinson's appraisal. In my opinion, the most challenging portion of the C&O is that from Cumberland to Little Orleans, especially if there has been rain and knowing you'll be towing a trailer. Just beyond Little Orleans you can switch over to the paved Western Maryland Rail Trail that parallels the C&O to approximately 11 miles beyond Hancock, MD. That is a nice respite from what could be a muddy trail. The H/B campsites are spaced closely enough that you can adjust your daily plan easily should any given day or personal condition requires it. There's plenty of daylight in June so you'll have lots of hours each day to get to you next overnight so there's no need to push hard or punish yourself.

By going in June and staying at H/B camp sites don't forget to include bug spray among your packed materials.

Matt from Charlotte on 02/04/2020 09:49 PM
Do your best to add a longer ride in on the weekends. it will go a long way to preparing your body for the 40-50 miles your going to want to cover each day. Beyond that, do your best to break your day into smaller rides. get up, eat breakfast, ride to second breakfast. eat second breakfast, ride to lunch... 45 miles is pretty easy to cover in bite sized pieces.

dcswindler4 from Culpeper, VA on 02/07/2020 06:13 PM
Thanks for all the input. You're making me think I can actually do this. Hopefully the weather cooperates, originally I was going to try it this past April when I was between jobs for a week but the weather that week was nothing but rain, I wouldn't have been prepared anyways.

My goal is to get at least to Little Orleans the first day to set the pace, anything above that will be an ego boost and make the following days a little shorter. If that section will most likely be the hardest part, even better.

I'll definitely have bug spray, did a beach biking/camping trip down in False Cape last year and the bugs were ridiculous, bug spray was worth more than gold that weekend.

Thanks for letting me know about Pedalshift. Looks like a good resource, and I've starting listening to his podcast.

I'm hoping to leave a vehicle near the end at Georgetown but not sure if I should spend a couple hundred for a spot for a couple days close by or price out areas a little further out like across the key bridge and ride there, maybe leave it at a metro station and take the metro? Not sure about riding the metro with a fatbike and a bob trailer though. Any recommendations?

Matt from Charlotte on 02/09/2020 06:35 PM
if your up for a short ride from G-Town, consider leaving your vehicle in longterm parking at Ronald Regan airport. <6 miles via Mt Vernon Trail. you can park an offsite lot for around $10 per day. you can even pre-book your parking at https://spothero.com/washington-dc/dca-airport-parking

BBiker from Reston, VA on 02/10/2020 12:20 PM
DCSwindler....I'm also a "larger framed" biker, 5'11" and 225, muscular, late 40s and a friend and I have twice ridden the Pitt to DC Gap trail and C&O in 4 days. The first trip, the most I ever rode was 20mi in a day and we were putting in average of 75mi/day. We don't pretend to be even average lever bikers, but wanted to see if we could do it...The 2nd trip, I trained better...with the longest training being a 40mi/day...
Like someone else said, you would benefit from some longer distance training, and the longer daylight hours in July will help, as avg days were about 9-10 hrs for us. Cumberland to DC is definitely doable in a 4-day time-frame. Weather was hot, but shaded and we didnt have any rain. The washed out bridge/trail at Brunswick was passable on foot by shouldering the bike and tiptoeing across the rocks to the other side. The trailer might be more difficult unless you made 2 portages. Good Luck!

Rick from Grafton, Va on 02/20/2020 03:51 PM
I've biked the C&O on my Monster Gravity Fatbike. It was a great ride. I used panniers (no trailer). The bike handled the terrain very well. We averaged 35-45 miles with 1 shorter day that had us stay overnight in Harpers Ferry so we could get a shower. We completed the route at Great Falls the following day. Fat bikes are a great option for the trail. I do a bunch of rides on various rail trails and if you'd like to contact me feel free. athiker80@cox.net

Brunswick Temp Bridge
Loren from Pgh on 02/01/2020 01:40 AM
Does anyone have any updated information on the temporary crossing at the Brunswick culvert washout. I heard that it was underwater the past few days and really took a beating. Is it still passable.

Jay from Frederick on 02/19/2020 10:19 PM
Here's what it looked like a few weeks ago, it's pretty deep still


Rockwood Manor
Tom from Robinson on 02/17/2020 08:04 PM
Two part question:
First, I am thinking of renting a car in my home town (Pgh) and doing a "one way" car drop-off in Washington (since my wife is getting tired of driving me there). I know a big fee is charged for that but that's ok. I considered the train but it doesn't get to DC until the afternoon so I burn a day. Does anyone know which car rental company will allow a drop-off closest to Mile 1 of the C & 0? Enterprise has a drop-off location at Union Station and that's what I will probably go with if no better/closer location is found.
Second, has anyone stayed at Rockwood Manor in Potomac MD (around mile 14)? Are they bike friendly and is it easy to get to on a bike from the towpath.

Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 02/17/2020 08:43 PM
Union Station is about 4 miles from The C&O Towpath Milepost 0 at the Thompson Boat Center and 5 miles from Reagan International Airport which would be another potential rental car drop off location. You can ride the Mt. Vernon Trail for much of the way from the airport to Milepost 0. There is also an Enterprise Car Rental location on Calvert Steet in the Georgetown section of DC and is about 2.5 miles from Milepost 0.

If you are spending the first night in Potomac MD, it would seem that you would have plenty of time to take the train to Washington's Union Station which arrives from Pgh around 1:05 p.m. and get to Potomac MD. It's less than 20 miles from Union Station to Potomac...so, say, about 2 hours. Depending on what time of year you are going you could make it to White's Ferry/Leesburg (40 miles) before dark.

Tom from Robinson on 02/17/2020 09:47 PM
Hey Rivnuts, good point about just taking the train. Had hoped to camp at Chisel Branch first night so that might work in early June. Thanks.

Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 02/17/2020 10:42 PM
I camped at the Chisel Branch H/B camp a couple of years ago. All I seem to recall is that it was rather buggy. In early June you can ride til around 9:00 pm which gives you lots of time to get there from Union Station unless the train is unusually late. You'd even have time to stop in Georgetown for a late lunch or pick up something to eat at Chisel Branch.

Tom from Robinson on 02/18/2020 07:24 PM
The car rental place at Calvert St is 2.3 miles from Towpath mile 0, and the entire 2.3 miles can be done on the Rock Creek Trail (paved and all downhill). Rock Creek Trail runs right by the car rental doors and ends at Mile 0. They open at 7:30am which means I will have time to bike to Shepherdstown instead of a half day to Chisel.

Bridge to Shepherdsville from C&O Canal Trail
Cyclist from Missouri on 02/13/2020 12:26 AM
How are the roads and the bridge to Shepherdsville from the C&O Canal Trail? Is it safe to cycle?

Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 02/13/2020 08:36 AM
I presume you are referring to "Shepherdstown". The route from the C&O Towpath to Shepherdstown across the Hwy 34/Shepherdstown Pike bridge is reasonably safe. First, the car traffic across that bridge is generally not very heavy. Second, you can ride the sidewalk along the road rather than the road itself if you so choose. There is little pedestrian traffic on sidewalk even as it passes along Shepherdstown University.

Note that the route from the Towpath to the bridge above is not well marked and can be easily missed if you are not aware or looking for it. It is a switchback path that begins on the upriver side of the bridge before you get to Lock 38. You can see it clearly in Google Maps' satellite view.

Hotels near Amtrak Pittsburgh
Lucas from Fairfax on 02/12/2020 10:43 AM
My brother and I are doing the GAP Easter weekend. We are going to take the Capital Limited from Cumberland to Pittsburgh on April 8, but the train doesn't arrive in Pittsburgh until almost midnight. Are there nice hotels near Union station? What are our best options for safely arriving to lodging that late at night?

Gary from Charlotte on 02/12/2020 01:31 PM
I stayed at the Hampton Inn on my way south. Bike friendly and 3 blocks away, well lighted.

Matt H from Charlotte on 02/12/2020 02:13 PM
Hampton inn, Marriott courtyard, & Westin are all with in 1 block of the station.

Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 02/12/2020 04:01 PM
There is a Homewood Suites about the same distance as the Hampton Inn from the train station.

Harpers Ferry
VABiker from Aexandria on 02/08/2020 11:04 AM
Is the pedestrian bridge open at Harpers Ferrt

VABiker from Aexandria on 02/08/2020 11:07 AM
. . . sorry "Ferry" - we are biking the C & O and have reservations in town. Are there alternative ways to get into town via bike?

Luchs from Harpers Ferry on 02/08/2020 06:37 PM
Not open yet and no ETA.

Early Spring Ride
Luke from Pittsburgh on 12/26/2019 08:18 PM
I'm planning a ride from Pittsburgh to DC in the spring. I have a week off of work in mid April. Is that too early in the season to complete the ride in its entirety? Just thinking about trail conditions, etc. Thanks!

Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 12/26/2019 11:20 PM
That may depend on whether you plan to camp or lodge along the trail. The average high and low temperatures in April are 61 and 41 while they are 72 and 52 in May. Hence the nights in April can be quite cool for camoing and there is a chance of snow, especially in the higher elevations in mid-April. A mid-May ride has a higher probability of being more enjoyable. It also precludes having to carry both warm and cold weather clothes and gear. The likelihood of rain is about the same but it is much more tolerable at higher temperatures.

I faced the same issue last spring and ended up waiting until early May and a week with little or no rain forecast. Doing so made for a pleasant trip, albeit with some unrelated mechanical issues.

Ross from North Augusta, SC on 01/23/2020 01:06 AM
I'm looking at May 17-20, this is great information as I was wondering about if that would be to early or not.

Meg from Durham, NC on 01/23/2020 11:59 AM
Hi, my friend and I did the C&O in mid-May last year and it was great. As long as you go after the water pumps are turned on, I think an early spring ride is nice. There weren't too many other bikepackers on the trail, which can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. We were hammock-camping (with underquilts) so having our pick of trees at the hiker-biker campsites was ideal. It rained a bit before we got there so the trail was definitely muddy at the start, but I think that can happen in any season on the C&O.

Meg from Durham, NC on 01/23/2020 11:59 AM
Hi, my friend and I did the C&O in mid-May last year and it was great. As long as you go after the water pumps are turned on, I think an early spring ride is nice. There weren't too many other bikepackers on the trail, which can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. We were hammock-camping (with underquilts) so having our pick of trees at the hiker-biker campsites was ideal. It rained a bit before we got there so the trail was definitely muddy at the start, but I think that can happen in any season on the C&O.

Ross from North Augusta on 02/04/2020 11:54 PM
Sounds great, I'll be hammock camping.. I'm ok alone, hoping one of my friends will join me though..

Shepherdstown to DC
Ben from Pittsburgh on 01/24/2020 01:16 PM
I'm riding from Pgh to DC this year. I am stopping in Shepherdstown for my last stop and was planning on riding from there to DC the following day. How feasible is that plan? It'd be 73 miles on the
C & O. Should I break that up into a two day ride given the terrain? If so, where would you recommend stopping for the night between Sherpherdstown and DC? I'm staying in B&B's/hotels along the way so won't have camping equipment. Thanks so much!

Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 01/24/2020 11:07 PM
The terrain is not an issue as that segment is virtually flat. Weather conditions, notably rain before or on that day would influence the effort and enjoyment required over that last 73 miles.

While I don't know what your previous day's plan/mileage, you could consider going on to Whites Ferry/Leesburg to spend the night. In doing so, your final day into DC would be a short 35 miles. If you have flexibility you could make that decision at the time based on the weather and your condition near the end of your trip.

Note if you stay in Leesburg, you can normally get a shuttle from Whites Ferry to/from the hotel in Leesburg,

Dave Gorman on 01/25/2020 12:32 AM
I have in years past done this and my logic was that I was fresher on the first day and then push it through the second day. Which was successful.That plan does not, in my opinion, leave a lot of time for sight seeing but that is a matter of personal preference.

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