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)
Contracted (starting posts and reply counts)
 

C&O and GAP Merchandise

Please support our advertisers -
they help make this website possible
Page: 1 2 3 ... 78
Resurfacing the C&O around Brunswick
 - 
Bike traveller from Austin,Texas on 07/18/2019 08:48 PM
I noticed they’re resurfacing the C&O around Brunswick. The new surface was a lot easier to ride on than what I’d seen closer to Cumberland.

 
Perrin Clark from Lovettsville VA. on 12/27/2019 05:00 PM
I am disappointed in how the trail looks. What is the stuff being put down. ??? It takes away from the historical feel of the trail. It looks awful. To bad that it is being done. Very sad. Ugh.

 
Anonymous on 12/27/2019 09:34 PM
I am saddened by this project and it’s effect on the historic character of the Tow Path. I love the grassy medians and the feel of being out in a country setting. The new surface is unappealing and gives one the feel of an urban walking/biking path. You are destroying History and the character of this Historic landmark. More people, more traffic, more speed will only ruin the beauty of this National Historic Park.
Please stop this expensive, nonsensical project. It is unnecessary, environmentally unfriendly, and unsightly. Who did the research for this project and why weren’t the local population and users of this Tow Path consulted? It is disgraceful!

 
Willy from Alexandria VA on 12/27/2019 09:49 PM
I'm sorry you are saddened. That being said, I wish the resurfacing was done at approximately mile 170- 175 instead of Brunswick. That section needs resurfacing more than Brunswick, but I am not the one singing the checks.

 
tom from pittsburgh on 12/28/2019 05:26 PM
I think that most people who have walked or biked this trail have a deep respect for the historical features of this area and specifically the trail itself. The many times that I have biked the C&O it crossed my mind many times that I was riding the same surface that was walked by the canal boat mules a hundred years ago. That sentiment aside, I have also pushed a fully loaded bike through miles and miles of unrideable mud. It seems as though the past few years have been especially wet and in my opinion the C&O surface should be upgraded to eliminate the heavy mud conditions that have ended many a trip early. I am certainly not in favor of asphalt paving which very much adds to excessive speeds and infinitely higher usage, but I would like to see the same crushed limestone surface like the GAP trail in PA. The GAP trail is still very primitive and rustic, just without the mud. I cannot argue anyones desire to preserve history, just hoping for a little compromise here.

 
Dave from Grand Rapids, Michigan on 12/30/2019 01:24 PM
For what it is worth, we are starting to use crushed asphalt rather than crushed limestone on rural rail trail sections in Michigan. It provides a firmer riding surface, drains better, and therefore doesn't get muddy. It has the feel of nicely compacted gravel road. I prefer to paved asphalt for the reasons mentioned above; it maintains a rural feel with out the hassle of washouts.

Considering riding the C&O / GAP trail this summer for the first time!

 
Rivnuts from Homestead. PA on 12/30/2019 09:53 PM
As noted in an earlier post following my ride from Pgh to DC last October, I concur with Dave's observations of the characteristics of the crushed asphalt resurface. I rode the section between Shepherdstown and Brunswick during a steady rain and was very pleased with the improved ride quality of that surface compared to the natural, unimproved trail in route to that section.

I'll leave the debate concerning whether such a surface is appropriate to maintain the history of the Towpath to a separate discussion.


 
Mapman from Naples Fl on 01/10/2020 10:51 AM
I have ridden the Canal 16 times. From totally dry condition to ankle deep water. To see riders complaining about a better surface being put down blows my mind. Be happy that in this political climate any work is being done on the Canal at all. The NPS tends to spend its very limited budget on the big name parks (Yellowstone, Grand Canyon) neglecting others like the Canal.
Any surface improvement should be appreciated.
Enjoy the ride.

 
John from Pittsburgh on 01/10/2020 09:31 PM
If it could be funded, I would welcome a crushed limestone resurface for the entirety of the C&O (similar to the GAP) where mule paths or dirt trails currently exist.

Too many people avoid or cancel trips on the C&O after rains because of it's poor condition. If resurfaced there would be no more questions about what kind of bike to use, what kind of tires do I need, will I fall because of the mud or strike a hidden-under-the-puddle tree root, etc.

I realize that crushed limestone after rains can be soupy in spots but it drains so much better and maintains a good, consistent riding surface so much better.

I understand the historic aspect of the C&O and respect that opinion. But all of the surrounding parts outside of the part you walk or ride on would remain intact. The Birders, photographers, hikers, etc. will all still be seeing the same things just with better footing. I feel most bike tourists would welcome this improvement to the surface by a wide margin if asked. Just my opinion...

 
telo from Robinson Twp on 01/12/2020 02:40 PM
I too would like to see some type of improvement to the tow path surface. Crushed limestone really works well on the GAP, but it may not be as effective on the C & O. The GAP was built on top of 100 years of railroad ballast build-up. This extremely porous rock material provides an excellent subbase that greatly facilitates positive drainage and surface stability. The C & O does not have the benefit of this porous rock subbase, only compacted soil. In my opinion, crushed limestone would be a big improvement here, but may require a little more upkeep and maintenance than the GAP due to the makeup of the subsurface materials. In any case, I'm an old retired civil engineer that had to cancel last year due to all the rain and the Brunswick washout. I'm running out of time, so here's hoping some improvements are done soon.

 
John W. from Pittsburgh on 01/16/2020 10:18 PM
Interesting information about the railroad ballast Telo! I had not considered that. No wonder the GAP drains so nicely.

That said, any resurfacing of the C&O would be welcome by me!


Hancock
 - 
John from Pittsburgh on 01/15/2020 01:48 PM
Where do you recommend staying in Hancock? My top two choices are booked for my travel dates. I'm now looking at the Super 8 and the Hancock Motel now. Any thoughts? Thank you!

 
dave gorman from hollidaysburg on 01/15/2020 01:59 PM
the Bike shop in Hancock has dormitory style bare bone accomodations that will work and are much cheaper than a hotel, if that would work for you.

 
Warren from North Carolina on 01/15/2020 03:16 PM
C&O Bike Shop is not a bad choice. For $15 you get a towel, hot shower a bunk and a place to charge all your electronic gear. It is also walking distance to a laundromat, fast food restaurants and a grocery store. Stayed there last fall after riding all day in the rain.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 01/15/2020 06:10 PM
I've stayed at the Super 8. It is a little further off the trail (with a little uphill grade) than the bike shop. It is an old-style motel. The room was small but clean and quiet the night I stayed there. The continental breakfast was quite austere but edible. They did have a hose to use as a bike wash which might be very useful if you're coming from Cumberland. That section of trail up to the WMRT pave trail can be very muddy if it rains or has rained recently.

It is a step up from the bike shop bunk house but not that big of a step up. Both are in close proximity to Weaver's Restaurant which is my favorite place to eat in Hancock, especially if you like pie!

 
John from Pittsburgh on 01/15/2020 09:40 PM
Thanks for the feedback!


Solo Woman Ride
 - 
Sarah from Pittsburgh on 01/12/2020 12:37 PM
Are there any women on here who have tackled the trail from PGH to DC solo? I'm planning on a possible trip this spring and was looking for feedback about how safe you felt along the trail itself and in towns. I will be staying in hotels and plan on doing the whole thing in five days.

 
John from Pittsburgh on 01/12/2020 06:14 PM
You'll be fine! :-) I've never heard/seen of any incidents on the GAP/C&O.

Obviously you'll be starting/ending in two large cities so use the normal precautions you would use. But the trail is safe.

 
Sarah from Pittsburgh on 01/12/2020 07:35 PM
Thanks! I live in Pgh now and used to live in DC. As backwards as it seems I'm more nervous about the more remote sections of the trail. Haha!

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 01/12/2020 08:19 PM
Being you are from Pittsburgh, you likely heard of the woman that was accosted on the trail just beyond the Homestead Waterfront shopping area. That is the only incident that I am aware of in the trail in the last few years. Aside from that, I agree with John's comments that the trail is has been quite safe for all travelers, both men and women. You should feel quite comfortable on the GAP portion as the distance between small towns and communities is rather short and the trail is rather open and generally well travelled. The C&O has more remote sections between towns and seems more isolated than the GAP, e.g. the section between Cumberland and Little Orleans. That said, I've met some unusual characters on the trail albeit harmless and interesting.

Like John, I don't view safety as an issue but I would point out that bicycle service along the C&O can be a challenge, especially if a mechanical issue arises in a remote section of the trail. You should take the normal precautions in terms of taking and knowing how to use simple bike tools and parts such as spare tire tubes. Further, you should have a backup plan for a more serious mechanical problem should it arise. Obviously a cell phone and some contact numbers could become quite useful in such an event. Note however, there are some sections of the trail where cell phone service does not exist. In that instance, other bike riders along the trail can be very helpful in getting assistance. In short, the Boy Scout motto of "Be Prepared" is well advised


Harper's Ferry Bridge Issue
 - 
EdW from LA, CA on 12/22/2019 11:06 AM
Freight train derails and falls into Potomac River near Harpers Ferry, W.Va. - The Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/freight-train-derails-and-falls-into-potomac-river-near-harpers-ferry-wva/2019/12/21/6970e6f2-240a-11ea-a153-dce4b94e4249_story.html

 
Blue Fork from Atlanta on 01/06/2020 08:47 PM
where can one find updates regarding repairs, and when the pedestrian access will return?

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 01/06/2020 09:27 PM
There does not appear to be a scheduled or estimated return to service of the pedestrian bridge across the Potomac River at Harpers Ferry at this time. The Appalachian Trail website below may be the best source of updates regarding repairs.

https://appalachiantrail.org/home/explore-the-trail/trail-updates#WV




 
Matt from Charlotte on 01/09/2020 11:13 AM
DISCLAIMER: I have no real experience and am simply in the planning stages of my trip

it looks like there is a 1.5mile detour that could bring you into Harper's Ferry slightly down the trail using US-340. Granted it looks like a busy 2 lane road, but with a considerable shoulder. This is only an issue if you plan on stopping in Harpers Ferry as the pedestrian bridge only connects the AT and does not obstruct the C&O. Obviously, ride at your own risk.

I had planned on overnighting in Harpers Ferry, but now it looks like Shepherdstown is going to be the better bet.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 01/09/2020 03:25 PM
Rt 340 is fast and fairly heavy traffic (at least west of HF which I rode in route to Harpers Ferry (HF)) with some sections where the shoulder narrows. Depending on your tolerance for car traffic, it could be a little daunting.

Shepherdstown would be a fine alternative overnight albeit without the same historical significance but very quaint in and of itself.

Given the historical significance of HF and the traffic from both the C&O Canal Towpath and Appalachian Trails, I would expect that local officials will stress the importance and timeliness of repairs to the pedestrian portion of the bridge by CSX Railroad. I'd keep a close watch for plans and progress which may enable you to maintain your plan to visit HF without traversing Rt 340.


Planning stage- security
 - 
Matt from Charlotte on 01/02/2020 05:57 PM
Planning a late spring/ early summer trip of the AP/C&O (Pit to DC). I'm curious what steps need to be taken to secure a bike during stops? I'm well aware that any bike lock is more about keeping honest people honest than eliminating the chance of theft. Is something minimal like the Otto cinch lock going to get the job done?

https://ottodesignworks.com/shop/ottolock

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 01/02/2020 09:58 PM
The GAP/C&O trail is generally safe and crime free. Not unsurprisingly, the greatest risks to your bike and gear are in the largest cities, Pgh and DC. I carry a light-duty combo lock to use when my bike and gear are not within sight. When camping I lock it even it the most remote hiker/biker camp sites. Although it’s probably not necessary, it seems like a rational and simple precaution to avoid having to walk home.


Rest/Skip day
 - 
Jim from South Louisiana on 12/13/2019 08:41 AM
Hi, a group of us will be riding the entire 350 mile trail in mid October next year. We would like to schedule a rest/skip day to enjoy our surrounds. What locations have the most to offer along the route?
Thanks for the feedback.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 12/16/2019 10:40 AM
That's a new and intriguing question. Which direction you plan to make the trip and the weather during the trip would likely impact your choice. That said, here are some thoughts:

1. Cumberland, MD is the largest town directly on the trail and offers multiple lodging and food options. The town itself is not particularly overwhelming but you might find a fall excursion trip up the hill on the Western Maryland Railroad to Frostburg, MD to be nice.
2. Ohiopyle, PA is a colorful stopover in the fall and a side trip to Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater home is a rather unique architectural entity.
3. Harpers Ferry, WV offers an opportunity to visit one of the well known sites from the Civil War. It's a small, quaint little historic town.
4. Great Falls, MD has an impressive set of waterfalls in the Potomac River and a working canal lock to see how the canal was traversed in its day. However there is no lodging at the falls themselves.
5. While not logistically consistent with a layover/rest day, the two terminus cities of Pittsburgh and Washington, DC offer all sorts of diverse sightseeing options which you should take advantage of it you have not visited one or both cities.

These are just some of my thoughts. Depending on what your interests are, there may be several others. I'm sure other contributors to this forum will have other suggestions as well.


 
Jim from South Louisiana on 12/16/2019 04:34 PM
Thanks for the suggestions! We will be riding from Pittsburgh to DC. Much appreciated. so many things to do..wish we could do them all!

 
Rivnuts from Homestead. PA on 12/16/2019 07:24 PM
Given you are going to travel from Pittsburgh to DC and assuming you are planning a 6 or 7 day trip, a layover in Cunberland would be my recommendation. It will accommodate larger groups, is about midway and s right on the trail. There are several food, lodging, laundry and bike shop options on or near the trail making it a good layover/rest option for your itinerary.

Spend a little time prior to your trip to read about the histories of the GAP and C&O trails to enjoy the trip and sites as much as possible n your short times there.

Best wishes for a great trip.

 
Jim from South Louisiana on 12/17/2019 06:33 AM
I appreciate you taking the time to help us with this decision. Cumberland has a lot of things to do and see.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead. PA on 12/17/2019 06:53 AM
Given you are going to travel from Pittsburgh to DC and assuming you are planning a 6 or 7 day trip, a layover in Cunberland would be my recommendation. It will accommodate larger groups, is about midway and s right on the trail. There are several food, lodging, laundry and bike shop options on or near the trail making it a good layover/rest option for your itinerary.

Spend a little time prior to your trip to read about the histories of the GAP and C&O trails to enjoy the trip and sites as much as possible n your short times there.

Best wishes for a great trip.

 
Willy from Alexandria,VA on 12/18/2019 09:31 AM
Don't forget Antietam, Civil war battlefield between Harpers Ferry and Williamsport.

Other suggestions might spring up reading the C&O -Gap Trailguide. It is 10 dollars well spent.

 
Owner from Kings Mountain, NC on 12/18/2019 01:49 PM
I have a place that can be used for one year if you put a new 100 amp b ox in. That's all I'm asking. You just put the utilities in your name. I have the cutest little place to use for your fishing, hiking, biking stone's throw from the Yough and short walk to the German Club. Rostraver Township. Get in touch with me. Put Yough River in subject line and I will be watching.

 
Anonymous on 12/26/2019 07:37 PM
I would suggest either Ohiopyle or Shepherdstown for a zero day.

A stay in Ohiopyle will allow you plenty of time to visit and enjoy Fallingwater or Kentuck Knob or both. Not sure how late into the season the rafting goes, but that is another option of things to do while there.

I would recommend Shepherdstown because it is close enough to Antietam that you could definitely visit that, but I found that Shepherdstown is a much more interesting town than Sharpsburg and offers a lot of options in regards to dining. If you didn’t want to ride back to Antietam, I believe the bike shop in town offers a shuttle.

 
Anonymous on 12/26/2019 07:55 PM
I would suggest either Ohiopyle or Shepherdstown for a zero day.

A stay in Ohiopyle will allow you plenty of time to visit and enjoy Fallingwater or Kentuck Knob or both. Not sure how late into the season the rafting goes, but that is another option of things to do while there.

I would recommend Shepherdstown because it is close enough to Antietam that you could definitely visit that, but I found that Shepherdstown is a much more interesting town than Sharpsburg and offers a lot of options in regards to dining. If you didn’t want to ride back to Antietam, I believe the bike shop in town offers a shuttle.

 
Jim from South Louisiana on 12/27/2019 06:52 PM
Thanks, we have settled on Shepherdstown.


Clarion Inn in Harpers Ferry
 - 
teresa on 11/28/2019 02:48 PM
anyone know how close to the trail this is?

 
Rivnuts from Homestead. PA on 11/28/2019 05:28 PM
It is across the river and ~2 miles from the C&O Towpath.

 
EdW from Los Angeles, CA on 12/22/2019 07:00 PM
Completed the trip in October. Saw this news about the freight train derailment. Hope you figure out a workaround.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/freight-train-derails-and-falls-into-potomac-river-near-harpers-ferry-wva/2019/12/21/6970e6f2-240a-11ea-a153-dce4b94e4249_story.html


Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail
 - 
Stillriding from Pittsburgh on 12/08/2019 03:18 PM
Hi all. One month ago I rode the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail. From Key Largo to Key West then back. I made a video on YouTube for anyone that may be interested.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejr04R8e7SE
Just open the link. I have put out several videos on this site. Hope you enjoy this one.


What’s the best direction to ride the 300 miles in about ten days
 - 
Deb from Arizona on 12/02/2019 03:15 PM
What is the preferred direction to ride DC to Pitts or Pitt to DC

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 12/02/2019 05:33 PM
That depends on your priorities including travel logistics, physical conditions, preferred accommodations, etc. The biggest difference that most riders cite is the topography. From DC to Washington makes the 23-mile section from the Eastern Continental Divide to Cumberland a downhill ride whereas in the other direction it is an uphill ride. It doable either way depending on your preference.

Travel logistics to/from Pittsburgh and Washington, DC are the other most common factors in choosing which way to ride this trail.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 12/04/2019 08:20 PM
Note this correction to the third sentence of my earlier reply. It should From "Pittsburgh to Washington" makes the 23-mile....

Page: 1 2 3 ... 78