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Reply to C&O Canal Towpath's Paw Paw Tunnel Closed Now Until mid-2022

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Reply to C&O Canal Towpath's Paw Paw Tunnel Closed Now Until mid-2022
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Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 12/6/2020 7:52:39 PM:
Below is a notice posted on the GAP website summarizing the NPS's announcement of the closure of the Paw Paw Tunnel until mid-2022. Note the 8.7 to 11% uphill grades for the detour depending on which direction you are travelling as well as the additional time to traverse the bypass. NOV 25 2020 | C&O Canal Towpath's Paw Paw Tunnel to Close; Detour Posted On November 25, the National Park Service announced an immediate closure of the northern entrance of the Paw Paw Tunnel to protect travelers on the C&O Canal Towpath from falling rocks near the tunnel's northern approach. The NPS anticipates this closure will last until mid-2022. According to the NPS, "during construction, visitors can walk into the Paw Paw Tunnel when approaching from the south but will not be able to continue past the north end of the tunnel. The south entrance is where day-use visitors access the tunnel already, and it is the closest entrance to the Paw Paw Tunnel campground and parking area. The campground and parking area will also remain open to through travelers on the towpath." Cyclists may walk their bikes up and over the Paw Paw Tunnel using the Tunnel Bypass Trail, which features beautiful views of the Potomac River and Paw Paw, W. Va. The Tunnel Bypass Trail is approximately a mile and a half long with an elevation change of 375 feet. From the south (closer to the Paw Paw Tunnel parking lot), the Tunnel Bypass Trail begins by crossing the canal and climbs 0.63 miles to the top (or about one foot of rise per nine feet of distance). On the downstream (construction) end, the bypass begins where the Tunnel Hill Trail meets the towpath near mile marker 155 and climbs 0.82 miles to the top (one foot of rise per 11.5 feet of distance). This detour is open and available for runners and hikers, as well. The NPS announcement itself can be found at: https://www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/pawpaw-closure.htm

John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 12/7/2020 10:35:52 PM:
Falling rocks....yikes! Glad it’s a simple detour. Thanks for sharing this! John

Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 12/8/2020 10:03:19 AM:
I can't decide whether the "Tunnel Bypass Detour" is better or worse than the earlier detour required when the repair of the tunnel itself was being performed. That detour was long, steep, rock and root ridden and dangerous when wet. It was virtually unrideable except for a mountain biker not laden with bags. It required a good hour or more to traverse making a day trip from Cumberland to Hancock rather onerous for the recreational rider. I guess I'll find out what this trail detour entails sometime next year.

Bill in Houston from Houston on 12/8/2020 12:50:34 PM:
That detour trail sounds pretty spicy. 9-11% is challenging, but if it's rocky or rooty or has steps, then you're beyond most people's ability to push even a lightly loaded bike. And going back downhill to the Canal trail might be an even bigger challenge. Thanks for the updates!

Adama from DC on 1/4/2021 11:08:56 PM:
The Tunnel Bypass trail is a terrible option. I have claustrophobia and seriously considered taking the trail (pre trip) instead of going through the Paw Paw itself. I arrived to rain and took one look at the trail and went right into the tunnel. A fully loaded bike on that trail is not an option. I would seriously look for an on road detour.