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Reply to C&O between DC and Cumberland

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Reply to C&O between DC and Cumberland
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Bostonmom from Dillsburg on 3/29/2021 3:27:44 PM:
Hi all. Looking for any advice and suggestions. I am planning a bike trip between DC and Cumberland. Can't decide which way to ride. Is it better to start in DC and end in Cumberland? Or the other way round? In terms of grade and elevation? Also I understand that it is possible to get on Amtrak with a bike but cannot figure out how from the website? Do you have to call them? Or is it better to rent a car or a shuttle service? Any suggestions appreciated.

John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 3/29/2021 5:32:31 PM:
You could give reservations a call and they’ll walk you through it. Your looking for the bike ticket (roll-on, roll-off). I’ve spoken to Amtrak reservation agents and they’ll know what to look for. I wouldn’t wait, those tickets go quick. If you don’t find the dates you want ask when the next available is. What direction? All depends. I personally would do Cumberland to DC. Cumberland to DC is downhill, albeit very slightly. The Potomac empties into the Chesapeake Bay and you’re basically following it. That said the trail is pretty flat overall. The locks you do encounter this direction will be downhill but there ain’t much to them. Better going down that up I say! If you can’t get a bike ticket you could box your bike. If you do it this way, make sure to bring a pedal wrench, you will need to remove them. You will need to loosen your handlebars and turn them to fit in a box. You’ll have zero problems getting a ticket if you box your bike. The Capitol Limited never sells out. You could rent a car. I have personally rented a car and dropped it off at Reagan Airport and made my way back to Cumberland/Pittsburgh. Cumberland is much smaller than DC so choices maybe limited on one way drop offs. You might want to price shuttles to see if they are comparable to a car/pickup rental. That could be a good way to go as well.

Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 3/29/2021 6:34:03 PM:
In addition to John W's remarks, note the difference in train departures and arrivals depending on which direction you choose to go. From Washington the train departs around 4:00 PM and arrives in Cumberland around 7:30 PM. From Cumberland the train departs around 9:30 am and arrives in DC around 1:00 pm. Depending on your travel itinerary, lodging, etc., one of these schedules may be better for you than the other. Regardless of which direction you choose and if you have not followed some of the recent postings on this forum and/or the C&O website, be aware of the bypass detour required up and over the Paw Paw Tunnel. That may influence your preferred direction also. In my opinion the first couple of days ride leaving Cumberland can be more difficult and with fewer points of interest so you may want to do those first, especially with the Paw Paw Tunnel bypass now required.