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Capital Limited Amtrak
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Tom from GODFREY on 06/22/2020 07:03 PM
Finalized plans for bucket list GAP/C&O ride in July and got call from Amtrak that they are refunding our $20 carry on bike pass because they are no longer allowing carry on bikes. They have changed their equipment. After some initial panic I was told that we can purchase a bike box at the station for $15, box up the bikes and purchase a $10 baggage pass. Not the end of the world. Just need to carry my pedal wench and deal with breaking down the bikes I hope this doesn't become the norm. I use the carry-on service along the KATY and love it. Has anyone done this at DC Union Station and have tips?

 
John from Pittsburgh,PA on 06/22/2020 08:09 PM
Was this with immediate affect or because your ticket was later in July? I depart on Amtrak early Thursday morning so I guess you could say I’m a bit concerned! :)

I haven’t gotten an email from them so maybe I’m safe for the remainder of June.

 
Tom from GODFREY on 06/22/2020 09:59 PM
my tickets are for last week in July, so I'm sure you are safe if they haven't contacted you. Enjoy!

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 06/22/2020 10:03 PM
This is an interesting change to Amtrak's historical service on the Capital Limited route. That said, in normal times, Union Station in DC is very busy. The platform where the train parks is fairly long and normally quite busy as is the passenger waiting area inside the terminal. I suspect things are a little less congested at this time. Perhaps the most difficult issue would be moving the bike box from the train platform into the terminal building or vice versa. You would likely want garner a cart on which to convey the box to/from the train if you must take it to/from the baggage car yourself. Disassembling and boxing or unboxing and assembling your bike in the terminal or just outside shouldn't be a problem. Getting rid of the box itself after use might be an interesting endeavor however.

 
Matt from Charlotte on 06/22/2020 10:13 PM
I'm traveling on July 10 & haven't received a notice. so I'm guessing I'm good to go. (even checked the spam folder to make sure I didn't miss anything)

checking the Amtrak site, they still show cary-on bicycle service as available. https://www.amtrak.com/onboard/bring-your-bicycle-onboard.html

 
John from Pittsburgh,PA on 06/22/2020 11:20 PM
Tom - I’m so glad my trip is safe but at the same time I’m disappointed that others like yourself have had to change up your plans. I hope this isn’t permanent. I recall many people have lobbied for this service for years. Maybe it’s just temporary? Maybe Covid related? I emailed Amtrak tonight to clarify this so I hope to hear from them tomorrow.

Matt - Thanks for the reminder to check the spam folder. I did that and inside that folder was the Amtrak auto-response that says they received my email and will respond to emails between 8a-11p, seven days a week! I always forget to check there. Glad to hear you beat the deadline.


 
Roadrider on 06/23/2020 11:32 AM
Bikes in boxes are handled by Amtrak baggage people. You buy the box and box it at the baggage counter and check it as baggage . Amtrak moves it to and from the train. You do not have to lug it.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 06/23/2020 03:20 PM
Roadriider: That’s good to know since I’ve always been able to carry my bike on in recent years albeit not always being able to hang it in a car with the wall racks.

 
John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 06/23/2020 09:12 PM
NOTE!

Just as Tom from GODFREY (the OP) had happen to him, I was just told by Amtrak that there will be no room for my bike from Pittsburgh on the Capitol Limited even though i already purchased a bike ticket. This email was sent to my Spam folder so thanks to Matt for the reminder to check there!

I could box it but oh man what a pain. I'm just going to rent a minivan one way to National Airport.


Here's what the email says:

Dear John,

Thank you for contacting us in regard to travelling with your bicycle.

Regrettably, due to Covid-19, there will not be any bicycle space on your reservation for your selected train. Please contact us to remove the bicycle space on your reservation by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245). Select '0' to speak with an Amtrak reservations agent.

We hope this does not inconvenience you.

Sincerely,
xxxxxxxxxx
Amtrak Center of Excellence.


 
John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 06/23/2020 09:53 PM
Got my full train and bike ticket refunded. Spoke to customer service. This is COVID related and not any kind of plan to get rid of roll-on, roll-off bike service. They are just taking baggage precautions they said and bikes fell under that. Customer service said they are targeting September but anything can change between now and then so nothing is in stone.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead. PA on 06/24/2020 05:26 AM
Curiously, how much is the one-way mini van rental and which car rental company did you choose? I'll likely do the same in August.

 
Juan from Pacheco on 06/24/2020 07:31 AM
We are renting a van from DC to Cleveland at $273.00 one way.

 
Charlieliz from Manassas VA on 06/24/2020 07:33 AM
A mini van one way from Manassas VA to Pittsburgh was $160. Plenty of room for three passengers, three touring bikes and all related gear.

 
John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 06/24/2020 11:39 AM
Got mine from Alamo for $149, one way from Pittsburgh airport to National airport in DC. Apparently, the local mom and pop franchise locations do not do one way rentals, you will need to do airport to airport. Rented a minivan.

 
Laurie from Chantilly on 06/26/2020 03:44 PM
I have a ticket DC => Pitt for self and bike (reservation to hang it up in the baggage car) on July 2. Just called Amtrak because of this thread and was told that self and bike are good. I'm wondering what dates of travel and in which direction (DC => Pitt or Pitt => DC) are people being told their bike reservations are cancelled. The agent with whom I spoke wasn't aware of bikes being cancelled and she asked her team and was told bikes are still good to go as long as reservations exist. I'm believing what I'm reading in this thread and want to be as best prepared for a last minute surprise as I can be. Thx

 
ST on 06/26/2020 07:22 PM
I, too, called Amtrak about my reservation on Sunday because of what I read here. I was told that they are reducing—but not eliminating—service across Amtrak’s offerings, including roll-on bikes. It sounded like there may be fewer bikes per train allowed, perhaps because they are running shorter trains. Seems like a good idea to call ahead. I’ll post back here if I have problems.

 
ST on 06/30/2020 10:22 AM
To close the loop on my experience, Amtrak did accept my bike, but there were no racks. I was told to lay my bike down in the checked baggage compartment and hope for the best. It was a bit disconcerting, but it arrived unscathed.

 
bike traveler from Austin, Texas on 07/01/2020 08:55 AM
Although I've never tried one, I've heard a derailleur guard is good for times like that. (https://www.amazon.com/derailleur-guard/s?k=derailleur+guard). Glad your bike survived the trip. The GAP and C&O trail are fantastic.

 
Sean from Oklahoma City on 07/01/2020 05:00 PM
I booked on July 25th for an October trip. The agent didn't say anything about there not being space for bikes and I even confirmed that I had a slot. But, I'm completely open to renting a car from Pitt to DC if anyone is going the 4th/5th of October.

 
Laurie from Chantilly on 07/08/2020 11:58 AM
Following up on my 6/26/2020 post - DC to Pitt on 7/2/2020 with bike reserved as roll on / roll off. They accepted bike and put it in the baggage car. No wall racks. My bike was leaned up against a wall with a boxed bike next to mine and when arrived in Pitt, 2 more bikes leaning against the boxed bike. I'm glad I didn't know bike was not hanging when I left DC. It was fine upon arrival in Pitt.


Harpers Ferry Footbridge is OPEN!!
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Adama from DC on 07/07/2020 11:16 PM
According to the.NPS website... https://www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/conditions.htm...

Harpers Ferry Footbridge Across Potomac (MP 60.7)

July 5, 2020 - Bridge Open. The footbridge across the Potomac River connecting the C&O Canal to Harpers Ferry is OPEN.


Has anyone been on it??

 
Laurie from Chantilly on 07/08/2020 11:36 AM
Yes - walked across HF footbridge yesterday (7/7/2020). Very nicely done!


Harpers Ferry
 - 
Juan Pacheco from Strongsvile, Oh on 06/16/2020 11:07 AM
What is the situation at Harpers Ferry with the foot bridge? Riding from Pitt to DC on the 27th of June

 
John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 06/16/2020 07:19 PM
It’s still out but I’ve read that work has begun on it. I would either call the hotel you’re staying at (if your spending the night in HF), I’m sure they have had lots of bicycle tourists call for a shuttle. Or call the Appalachian Trail HQ. I’ve heard they do shuttles for hikers but let them know you have a bike. Probably a fee involved for that.

John

 
Juan from Pacheco on 06/17/2020 07:30 AM
Thank you John.

 
WKR from Brunswick, MD on 06/17/2020 09:54 AM
There is a hotel in Brunswick, MD, 6 miles down from Harpers Ferry. Not so scenic but they do have a diner attached to the place. You just have to ride about a mile uphill from the C&O to get there. ;)

 
Bill Ogilvie from washington, dc on 06/17/2020 12:39 PM
We are using the following service this weekend:

Debbie Shuttle Service/Harpers Ferry Brunswick
3047247356 (o)
3042700549 (c)
Lock 30 3:30 pick up on the 20th
drop off at 7am on the 21st at Lock 30 in Brunswick

 
John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 06/17/2020 01:06 PM
Since cars can’t reach where the trail meets the broken pedestrian bridge, does anyone know the two closest pick up points that an automobile could reach you? Looks like Keep Tryst Rd in Knoxville to the East. The Maryland Heights trailhead might be the closest to the west. Can anyone confirm?

I’ve always wondered...could Lyft or Uber help take you and your bike to HF if there were no other options? I’m sure some of the drivers have bike racks or vans big enough.

 
WKR from Brunswick, MD on 06/17/2020 03:05 PM
At Keep Tryst Rd and the C&O, about 3 miles north of Brunswick and 3 miles south of Harpers Ferry, is a place that a car/van can park. It's also where the Appalachian Trail leaves the C&O.

Then there's the boat launch about 5 miles (not positive on that distance) north of Harpers Ferry with a large parking area. I can look at my map if you're interested in this spot.

The Maryland Heights parking areas (such as they are) were closed last time I went by.

 
John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 06/17/2020 03:21 PM
Thanks WKR....looks like it’s called Dargan Bend?

Good to know Maryland Heights is closed in advance.

 
WKR from Brunswick, MD on 06/17/2020 05:44 PM
I just rode past maryland heights and they still have jersey barriers blocking you from parking there.

Yes, the boat launch area is dargan bend.

 
Richard from Washington DC on 06/17/2020 06:40 PM
You are right on both scores. I wish someone who had tried the car services would tell if there are people there who can handle bikes. That's the simple solution. It's only two or three miles from Keep Tryst Road to Harper's Ferry. By the way, that road is named for a 10,000 acre or greater tract of land by the same name. It was owned by John Semple. The Semple family motto is Keep Tryst or Keep Being Trustworthy. http://www.michaelsemple.com/logo.html#:~:text=The%20meaning%20of%20the%20Semple,an%20important%20appointment%20or%20meeting. Of course, John Semple was something of a scoundrel.

 
Juan from Pacheco on 06/18/2020 07:57 AM
We have reservations at Harpers Ferry so we need a way to get across.

 
Greg N from Huntsville on 06/18/2020 09:59 AM
Why couldn't you just do a road detour on your bike to by-pass this section?

 
Juan from Pacheco on 06/18/2020 10:36 AM
I'm looking at maps but I don't know the area or how much traffic on the roads.

 
WKR from Brunswick, MD on 06/18/2020 11:42 AM
You can do a country road route between shepherdstown and harpers ferry. The hard part, then, is getting from harpers ferry to weverton/keep tryst road. You would be crossing the potomac using the 340 bridge, which does have a narrow sidewalk going each way, and then you turn right up the hill once you are back in MD. Getting across the bridge could be uncomfortable as there are a lot of trucks.

If I had a choice I would skip harpers ferry and stay in brunswick.

 
Greg N from Huntsville on 06/18/2020 11:51 AM
Just to be clear, if you are not going to go to Harpers
Ferry, then you don't need cross the Potomac, is that route clear? Thank you

 
Juan from Pacheco on 06/18/2020 12:07 PM
Thank you all for the suggestions. We are staying at the Clarion Inn so I would have to find a way to cross or try to find reservations in Brunswick.

 
WKR from Brunswick, MD on 06/18/2020 12:31 PM
If you skip harpers ferry then you don't need to cross the potomac and can just ride straight through.

There are now 2 hotels in brunswick (holiday inn is brand new and travelodge was recently renovated):

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Brunswick - Harpers Ferry Area
1501 Village Green Way, Brunswick, MD 21716

Travelodge by Wyndham Brunswick near Fredrick
620 Souder Rd, Brunswick, MD 21716•(240) 367-9472

 
Juan from Pacheco on 06/18/2020 12:38 PM
Great, thank you.

 
John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 06/19/2020 02:09 PM
I’m just a week out from my trip! Can’t wait. I had to omit Harpers Ferry as well. I’m just camping anyways so other than a food stop I wouldn’t have made the trip over.

Just saw an article from a week ago and it says “the project is expected to be completed around July.“ Later in the article it says “in the May 2020 newsletter for the corporation of Harpers Ferry that CSX expected late July for completion, pending any weather or COVID-19 related delays.

https://www.journal-news.net/journal-news/harpers-ferry-council-gives-update-on-footbridge-repairs-rock-slide-project/article_51c59c5f-8423-5f31-8b9e-9c56e0b17e17.html

Not too much longer now!

 
Greg N from Huntsville on 06/19/2020 03:38 PM
I just called the park service yesterday and they told me that all of the campgrounds between DC and milepost 48 are still closed. I think that Bald Eagle is the easternmost campground that is currently open.

 
John from Pittsburgh, PA on 06/19/2020 06:29 PM
Interesting. The C&O web site says "Hiker-bike Campsites - open in Frederick, Washington, and Allegany Counties (Calico Rocks to Evitts Creek)."
https://www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/conditions.htm

That should mean that Indian Flats (mm 42.5) and Calico Rocks (mm 47.6) should be open as they both fall inside Frederick County (Indian Flats the most eastern of them).

This good to know because I was targeting Indian Flats and will now adjust my target for a campsite that night.

John

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 06/19/2020 08:29 PM
The NPS C&O website states that all the H/B campsites are open from Evitt's Creek to Calico Rocks. Not exactly sure what to believe. I guess you simply have to be prepared and plan for the worst.

 
John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 06/19/2020 08:34 PM
I was targeting Indian Flats. If that’s closed, the next one is Calico Rocks and after that Bald Eagle. I’ll report what I find next week!

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 06/20/2020 11:52 AM
John W.

If you’d like someone to ride along for a few miles out of Pgh, let me know when and where.

 
John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 06/20/2020 02:56 PM
Rivnuts,

Thank you for the kind invite! I think we can do this but with a hitch.

My initial plan was to ride my bicycle from home (Montour Trail), catch the Clariton Connector, and get on the GAP at McKeesport and ride to DC and take Amtrak home. When I went to reserve my roll-on, roll-off ticket, they were sold out. I was gonna box my bike (stinks but do-able) but then got to thinking...what if I flip the directions and take Amtrak from PGH to DC and ride home? Hmmm! I was able to reserve a bike ticket out of PGH so I’m leaving on a train for DC later this week.

So now the plan is cycling from DC to PGH where I will exit the GAP at McKeesport and take the Montour Trail to get home. I’m not sure the mileage but I will be missing the last 16 or so miles into downtown PGH and applying that distance to the Montour. If my intinerary has no changes, I would be passing that way Thursday, July 2nd. Would this work?

I’m also open to doing a Montour/GAP or any local ride anytime this weekend. Let me know and we can meet up!

John

 
WKR from Brunswick, MD on 06/20/2020 04:43 PM
All of the hike bike camping areas within an hour of Brunswick are open for sure. I went an hour north earlier this week and just went 15 miles south. So, definitely open through Indian Flats, which is between 14 and 15 miles from Brunswick.

 
John from Pittsburgh, PA on 06/20/2020 05:04 PM
Awesome! Indian Flats was my first targeted campsite for my upcoming trip.

Thanks for sharing...

John

 
Charlieliz from Manassas VA on 06/20/2020 06:14 PM
Check into one way car rental. I’ve done it from Manassas VA to Pittsburgh both in a car and a van. One bike in car, three bikes in van. Cost was not prohibitive.

 
John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 06/20/2020 06:48 PM
That was gonna be my back up plan if the train didn’t have bike tickets.

Good idea....

 
Greg New from Huntsville, AL on 06/21/2020 03:43 PM
I am starting in Cumberland on Wednesday and riding to DC, I will report back on the campground situation. i may have misunderstood what the park service was saying, it could have been that the pump handles are not installed yet on the eastern campsites. Either way I can’t imagine that they are going out and checking them in the evenings and even if they are “closed” it may be possible to stealth camp there.

 
John from Pittsburgh, PA on 06/21/2020 05:28 PM
Let us know what you find Greg, appreciate it!

 
WKR from Brunswick, MD on 06/21/2020 06:31 PM
Seems like there are campgrounds and there are hiker biker camps. Campgrounds are big places usually with quick access by car. Hiker biker camps are smaller and usually a mile or more from a trail head. I've seen campgrounds completely closed while the hiker biker camps were still accessible (with no signage to indicate they shouldn't be used). This is just my experience with the ones that are close to home. :) I'm just getting back into cycling but I've got about 12k miles of C&O running experience with runs starting from multiple trail heads.

Kirk

 
Bracken from Raleigh on 06/21/2020 10:51 PM
I just finished a DC to PGH tour yesterday. All hiker biker sites were open. There were people going up the stairs to from the canal to cross the footbridge to HF but I cannot confirm that they were actually able to cross the bridge.

Pump handles were all installed from Washington to Harpers Ferry. They were spotty between Harpers Ferry and Hancock. Between Hancock and Cumberland there was no water. There were also a few trees down after Harpers Ferry.

 
Charlieliz from Manassas VA on 06/22/2020 06:45 AM
What sections of the path have been resurfaced with crushed stone ?

 
John from Pittsburgh,PA on 06/22/2020 02:30 PM
I just got an email back from from the C&O staff in Hagerstown and they are saying that “the park has reopened hiker biker campsites from Horsepen Branch to Evitts Creek.”

Apparently this just happened today!

So it looks like only Swains Lock (Mile 16.6) is still closed. Everything else is open.

John

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 06/22/2020 10:20 PM
John W.

Sorry, but this past weekend was a bust for me. Curiously, a week ago I road the entire Montour Trail as part of a full loop ride starting and returning from Homestead.

As for July 2 or thereabouts, that works for me. I could meet you at ,say, the McKeesport Marina and ride with you to the Tandem Connection and then return back home.

Just let me know how your trip develops and what day/time it appears you may be there.

 
John from Pittsburgh,PA on 06/22/2020 11:00 PM
Sounds good, Rivnuts!

I’ll post a few updates here of my journey and as I get close to McKeesport, I’ll provide details to meet up.

Take care,
John


 
John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 06/29/2020 07:18 PM
Rivnuts,

I’ve been moving slightly quicker than I anticipated (mostly due to water and food availability forcing me to change my daily plans) and will be shaving a day off my trip so how does Wednesday July 1 sound? Maybe meet at McKeesport, say noon? If not no worries, I’ll catch you on the Montour at a later date.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 06/29/2020 08:53 PM
John W.

Wednesday around noon in McKeesport (marina or elsewhere) works. I’m flexible however, so if your plans change feel free to adjust as necessary. I’m less than an hour from McKeesport. I’ll be on a white road bike and a Pittsburgh cycling jersey.

Stay safe.

Ted

 
John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 06/29/2020 10:07 PM
I’ll have a green Cycle The Erie Canal shirt. See you then.

 
Greg New from Huntsville, AL on 07/01/2020 11:31 PM
All of the hiker/biker campgrounds are open. However, the pump handles are not installed at more than half of the campgrounds. You best bet is to carry as much water as you can. So that you will have enough to get you from one town with a convenience store to the next. I generally made two stops per day at off trail convenience stores to refill my water supply. I carried about 0.8 gallons. There is no pattern that you can use to predict which sites will have pump handles installed. They will be present at one or two consecutive sites and then missing at the next couple of sites.

 
EdW from Los Angeles, CA on 07/04/2020 06:37 PM
Bridge is open.

https://wvmetronews.com/2020/07/03/footbridge-at-harpers-ferry-reopens-after-damage-caused-in-train-derailment/

 
Matt from Charlotte on 07/04/2020 07:22 PM
*deleted*

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