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The C&O Canal Towpath Trail and Great Allegheny Passage

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Share your comments, questions, opinions, and advice on the C&O Canal Trail and/or Great Allegheny Passage.
 
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earliest and best month
 - 
smitty from virginia beach on 01/22/2011 05:50 PM
Will ride from Cumberland to DC in 2011. Wonder what month is the earliest I can ride (without misery) and which month is the preferred time frame?

 
smitty on 01/22/2011 05:56 PM
Initial posting should have stated: Will ride from McKeesport to DC in 2011. What is the earliest month and the best recommended month to do so.

 
Anonymous from Camden, nc on 01/23/2011 08:05 AM
Hey Smitty. Check out the Tour de Canal in September. I'm planning on adding the GAP to it and do the entire length the week of Sept 6ish thry 11th. Interested?

 
smitty from vb on 01/30/2011 06:28 AM
As things materialize looks like June is falling into place for me. What are your thoughts on bikes to use? Can I use a road bike? Would I regret it? As things go I am in the area for a different road event and can make this trail ride happen if I use my road bike.

 
Anonymous from Camden, NC on 02/02/2011 09:42 PM
Smitty, I have ridden the C&O portion and you must use a hybrid or mtn bike. NO road bikes allowed. I believe it would be the same for the GAP portion.

 
TQ from DE on 03/05/2011 07:19 AM
Since you will experience all conditions of the trail, late spring, early summer on thru summer is my recommendation. Parts of the tow path are in good shape and portions are pretty bad to bad. Would recommend familarizing the rails to trails that parrallels sections. Often we switch back and forth cause the tow path is bad. Bad meaning high grass, soft/muddy or all three. Then portions are solid with good gravel and well maintained. It's a great ride.

 
Randy on 04/11/2011 02:50 PM
Definitely don't ride in April. Lots of Spring storms roll through the area. Wait until mid to late May, June would be better. Use a Mountain Bike, the surface is very rough in many places. Bring a spare inner tube. I've seen lots of poor souls with flats. Some of the rocks on the trail have sharp surfaces. Road Bike - don't even consider it. Happy trails!

 
John from Bardstown, Ky on 04/18/2011 06:03 AM
I did it last year on a hardtail mt bike and it was ok. Get smoother tread tires, don't ride with the knobbies. If possible get a fork without shocks.


July 2011 tour from DC to Pittsburgh
 - 
foxdhmtbike from windber, pa on 04/16/2011 12:57 AM
I am planning a trip starting on July 30, 2011 to August 6, 2011. If you're interested in joining please feel free to contact me. jamey.godin@gmail.com


Little Orleans Parking Area
 - 
Randy from Elizabethtown, PA on 10/06/2010 09:38 AM
Planning a day trip. Where is parking available near the C&O Canal near the Little Orleans area? I'm looking at the Google Satellite image and I don't see much. It could be obscured by trees. There's supposed to be a Camp Site right off the trail. Is the Parking relatively secure. Can you park near Bill's Place? Thanks.

 
Dwayne from Elktoj MD on 11/15/2010 01:07 PM
You can park in the park down by the ricer.

 
keith from orrville, oh on 12/27/2010 08:10 PM
There is virtually nothing in Little Orleans except Bill's. It is a restaurant/bar/grocery. You can park there. It is 1/10 mile or less to the towpath. (There also is a comercial campground a mile away and the Little Orleans Lodge also about a mile away. It has overnight housing.)

 
Jim on 04/11/2011 03:16 PM
There is only room to park about 5 or 6 cars near the gated entrance. You could park further down along the river, but in the Spring this could be very muddy, also I would have some concerns about security as this area is obscured from view from the main trail. Also, be careful if storms are forecasted because any river rise will cause problems for you. Bill's Place does not have a parking area per se.


Bill's Place
 - 
Mike from Red Lion, PA on 10/07/2010 12:28 PM
Not disputing what many folks have said about Bill's Place, but I've spoken with some other people and their opinion was not favorable. He has a sign that says: "Cyclist Welcome", but that does refer to bicyclist. That's for Motorcyclist. Others have said he was very rude to them. One couple asked him about water and he referred then to a hose outside. I might stop in, just to see how I'm treated on my next ride and I'll report back.

 
H. Dill from Ruffs dale, Pa on 01/05/2011 07:27 PM
Stopped at Bill"s Place on thru trip from DC to Pitts. Had the Best roast beef sandwich ever, and met up with a family from England. Bill was more than hospitable posing for pics and all. I understand Bills health isn't what it used to be. Maybe the forementioned person caught him on a bad day. His family is also very personal. looking forward to getting back this summer !!!!

 
TOMATOMAN from MARTINSBURG WV on 01/20/2011 03:17 PM
bike trip weekend that hurricane katrina came through, wife and i were half way home @ little orleans (cumberland to williamsport).as rain started i ran into Bill's place and bought a couple disposable ponchos and Bill ran downstairs and GAVE me a couple hats to help keep poncho on. great guy, looking forward to next trip. make it point to stop @ Bill's

 
Paulie from Knoxville on 02/07/2011 05:43 PM
I was a little skepitcal of Bill's Place, but I needed food/drink so I stopped in. I wasnt sure how the crowd at the bar would react to me in spandex but nobody even gave me a second look. They had a good selection of gatoraid and even some power bars. I'll stop at Bill's for sure next.

Paulie

 
Mike from Red Lion on 04/11/2011 03:05 PM
Unfortunately I can't delete my original post. The information I posted at that time was based on what others told me. My actual experience was much different. I was treated pretty well. They have a good selection of Gatorade and his water was only $1.00 per bottle. You can get other snacks there to. I think they prefer to be paid cash though.
I understand Bill has terminal cancer, so maybe on some days he is not feeling his best. I'll stop in again the next time I'm in the area. :)


 - 
Mary from Clear Spring on 03/08/2011 11:23 AM
I have heard of horseback riding on the towpath but cannot find any information on it, ie:which parts it is allowed on accessibility. For that matter I cannot find any information anywhere on the internet about bridle paths on any public lands, though I know it's done. Does anyone know where to get that information?

 
Randy on 04/11/2011 01:48 PM
You may find this link helpful: http://www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/horsebackriding.htm

 
Randy on 04/11/2011 01:56 PM
Horseback riding is not allowed between Georgetown (mile 0) and Swains Lock (mile 16.6) or from Offutt Street (mile 181.8) to the canal terminus (mile 184.5). Horses are not allowed in the Paw Paw Tunnel. Riders must take the tunnel hill trail that goes over the tunnel instead. Riders may not exceed the speed of a slow trot. Riders must dismount and walk their horses across aqueducts. Horses may not cross wooden footbridges, which are not designed to carry their weight.
Your biggest challenge will be to find a place to park your horse trailer. Many parking areas can barely fit a couple cars. For your first trip I would suggest parking at Hancock, MD and then ride the C&O towards Cumberland, Md. This is a nice remote section of the trail (away from the crowds). Hancock has a couple of good sized parking areas. The one that is paved is across from the American Legion. Hancock Md is also right off the highway. Another possibility for parking your horse trailer is near Big Pool, MD and Fort Frederick. Plenty of ample parking at those locations. Also, I should mention that though your question is about the C&O, you cannot ride horses on the paved Western Maryland Rail Trail which runs parallel to the C&O.
I did try to post a web-link about horse use on the trail, but the moderator flagged it. Hope this was helpful.


Which direction
 - 
dan from Austin, TX on 04/01/2011 08:01 AM
Planning on riding Washington to Pittsburgh or Pittsburgh to Washington in late May. Which direction is preferable - either?

 
Boo from DC on 04/05/2011 04:57 PM
Pittsburgh to DC is slightly downhill, and I think the more common direction.

 
vabiker23518 from Williamsburg, VA on 04/07/2011 02:31 PM
Take a look at the Bike Washington and GAP webpages. From Cumberland to the Eastern Continental Divide is the big rise, heading west. I've done it both ways, and for me, best to go west. That way you get the pain over with relatively quickly. When heading east, the gentile rise from Ohiopyle to the C.D. seems never ending!


Whitsett
 - 
Clarence M. Johnaon from Whitsett, Pa on 03/31/2011 02:46 PM
The WFYTC of the RTC is the member organization that maintains the trail from milepost 41 to 46. join us with a membership. Forward address and name to receive membership information. We are volunteer group. Thanks.


Backpacking C+O and GAP
 - 
Paul A on 02/19/2011 09:07 PM
I'd like to do a backpacking trip the length of the combined C+O canal path and the GAP. The problem as I see it is that the distance between camping places on the GAP is too far apart. Am I missing something? I might be able to crank out one 30 mile day but to do 5 in a row would be impossible for me. The only alternative I can think of is to hike to Cumberland and then finish the trip on a rented bicycle. any other suggestions?

 
keith from maryland on 02/20/2011 06:38 PM
i`ve been thinking about the same thing. I plan on riding my bike from Cumberland on up. Campgrounds are far apart and even the commercial ones are seldom not close to the trail. This will take some planning on my part as far as what I want to do. There are B&B`S along the way I was also looking at. But then the price of a small vacation goes up.
Hope your plans go well for you...good luck

 
Paul A on 02/23/2011 09:09 PM
I've been doing more research on http://www.atatrail.org/index.cfm and found that there are some private campgrounds,as well as hostels. While not as good as free they are cheaper than a B+B or hotel/motel

 
Rick Hancock from Grafton, Va on 03/27/2011 06:34 AM
I mostly bike the Gap/C&O so I'm able to go further between stops. Your right, the Gap isn't as hiker friendly as the C&O for camping. There are a few private campgrounds some are pretty close to the trail and others are a couple of miles away. Some will shuttle you for a small fee. Most of the "bigger" towns have hostels or B&B's the hostels are usually not too expensive. As you mentioned maybe renting a bike would be your best bet but you would need to arrange for panniers to be included, it's not much fun hauling gear on your back while biking.


Trail conditions help
 - 
Tom Jones from Pittsburgh on 02/24/2011 01:18 PM
I hoping to ride the entire length of the C&O in the 3rd week of March. I know this trail can be very wet at times. Is the trail ride-able at this time of the year.? THX

 
Rick Hancock from Grafton, Va on 03/27/2011 06:12 AM
It's been a hard winter, lots of snow and rain so I'm betting the trail is going to still be pretty wet/muddy. If you can post pone a month or so you might have more enjoyable ride. I can't believe I'm really saying this. I can't tell you how many times I've had Rangers etc. say the same thing and I went anyway. Sometimes I had a great time and other times I wish I'd listened! Like I said the trail right now could be in pretty rough condition. If your staying indoors at night you can get clean, if your camping you'll ride in mud, camp in mud, cook in mud, etc. Have a great ride


Biking with a Road Bike?
 - 
Nate Wineland from Glenside Pa on 03/01/2011 01:12 PM
This summer I am biking from Baltimore Maryland to Portland Oregon on behalf of 4K for Cancer, an organization that aims to spread awareness, inspire hope, and unite communities across the country in the fight against cancer.

I am in change of planning the fist 1/3 of the trip and so far our goal is to bike from Baltimore to Washington DC and then up to Pittsburgh. My fellow riders are I have been provided with Jamis Auroa's for our trip and I am wondering if a road bike will be able to survive on the trial, or if their are easy ways around the rough parts of the trail where we could bike on paved roads.

Any information that anyone could provide for me would be greatly appreciated.

 
wayne from Williamsburg, VA on 03/24/2011 02:47 PM
I've used 700 X 32 on both C&O and GAP...C&O is harder on road bikes due to mud and ruts, GAP is generally much better (after all, it was a rail bed, not a mule path!). Never had a problem with the 700 X 32.


Biking with kids
 - 
Dianne on 03/06/2011 11:03 AM
Planning to bike from Cumberland to DC in late spring/early summer with two kids ages 9 & 12. We plan to do about 20 miles a day. Would love to hear from anyone who has attempted the trip with kids. They are very fit, but we aren't under any time constraints. Any suggestions?

 
Paul A on 03/06/2011 04:56 PM
Having done bicycle camping trips with my sons and backpacking trips with my nephews I've got a couple of suggestions.
1 Make sure they get time to play everyday
2 If they see something that interests them stop and look at it
3 Let them make some of the group decisions, as appropriate.

I hope you have a good, no, great trip. You'll be making memories that you will share with them for a life time. Even though both of our sons are adults now we still do the "remember on our bike trip when......"

 
Marvin from Little Rock on 03/19/2011 03:02 PM
Diane,

I'd be interested in your plans as far as how far to go each day. I'm thinking of doing the same with my 3 boys -they will be 8, 12 and 15.
My wife does not ride so we have great SAG support.
We have ridden across a state together each of the last 3 years and they are looking forward to our next adventure.

Here is a link to a blog we did for the first one when they were 5, 8 and 12.

 
Dianne on 03/24/2011 01:05 PM
We are planning on 20 miles a day most days, but we are kind of playing it by ear. On previous weekend trips they have gone 25-30 miles in a day on trails similar to the C&O Canal Trail, but we were not hauling our camping equipment. It's kind of tough to plan out; I don't want to wear them out, but on the other hand dragging the trip out to about 8 days or so could be tiresome too. Your blog link didn't show up. How many miles per day have you gone on your previous trips? Thanks for responding - I haven't found too many people who attempt these kinds of trips with kids and every bit of info I can get is appreciated.


Great Falls Overlook in Potomac
 - 
Ray (webmaster) on 03/16/2011 06:04 AM
Great Falls Overlook, which had been closed due to high water, is now reopened


Trail completion to Homestead
 - 
Howard from Pittsburgh on 03/13/2011 04:19 PM
Was going to bike to Maryland on the GAP the end of June. I live in Squirrel Hill in Pgh. and could easily access the trail through Frick Park and over the Homestead High Level Bridge. Does anyone know when the trail will be done to that point?


Mommer's Diner in Brunswick
 - 
allison from dc on 03/07/2011 03:35 PM
the service was terrible, they were out of at least 1/2 of the menu (at 1:00 on a sunday, so no excuse!) even worse, we both felt sick afterwards and I spent the night throwing up (either from here or "better choice bakery" bagels from around the corner which I realized too late were moldy ON THE DAY OF PURCHASE.) brunswick is a total disappointment, unless you're looking for antiques, which you're probably not if you're hiking the C/O.


Montour Trail info
 - 
BR on 02/22/2011 07:53 PM
Looking to ride the GAP next month and looking for info on the Montour trail to extend the ride. Is the trail open all the way from Coraopolis to McKeesport and are there camping spots on the Montour?


long term car parking
 - 
Pat from Barre, Vermont on 05/25/2010 07:58 PM
I hope to bike a few days around the Harpers ferry area and would like to leave my car in a safe location. Any suggestions on long term parking?

 
Paul A on 02/19/2011 07:26 PM
I'd bet this too late for the original poster, but, the National Park Service has a large lot at Harper's Ferry. If I remember correctly the charge to park, and leave, your car there is $6


bike selection
 - 
smitty from virginia beach on 01/30/2011 06:36 AM
opportunity knocks...been wanting to ride the trail from Pitt-DC for a few years...now I have the opportunity to do so in June 2011...the problem is I will be in the area to do so because of a different event and hence will have my road bike. My question is, would I regret riding/attempting this with a road bike?

 
vabiker23518 from Williamsburg, VA on 02/02/2011 03:02 PM
What size are your tires? My wife and I have ridden with 700 X 32 and it was a non-issue.

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