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Reply to Ending in DC -- Train and lodging

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Reply to Ending in DC -- Train and lodging
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wnybubba from Bflo/ROC (New York) on 4/7/2021 10:18:27 PM:
Greetings to any friends here from the Erie Canalway forum. This site has already provided a bunch of good information and the "Trip Planer" is such an awesome tool for those who are not oriented to the trail. Background -- Last year I rode the GAP (PGH -> Cumberland) and loved it! Decided to do it again and add the C&O (the C&O is a bucket list item). I'm pretty comfortable with my plan at this point which is to be on trail the last week of July into Aug. There are racks available on weekday trains at this point so I am looking to nail down my schedule and make reservations. QUESTIONS: (1) What is the deal when I get into DC? I will be arriving around Noon. How far is the Train station and which station do I use? I can see the Georgetown Station on the AMTRAK reservation system, but it doesn't allow me to use it, and defaults to Union Station. (I'm also assuming that having 4 hours is plenty of time.) (2) It bothers me to not have some fallback plan on the trail (bike repairs or situations that cause me time) that might cause me to miss the train. I'd like to add an extra day to cover this. If I do that, I'm looking for recommendations for a place to stay. I know DC and the Metro rather well (however, not with bike), so I'm open to suggestions. (Save high-end... I don't need too many stars to be happy.) (3) Assume working in this fallback plan is a smart thing. (4) I'm typically not inclined to do a lot of stops to include places of interest. However, there is a lot of history in this area. Are there things that I **really should be** taking in while I'm on the trail? Side trips or whatever that I should change my schedule to include? Thanks in advance! Happy to meet everyone here on the forum. -bubba

 
John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 4/7/2021 11:54:22 PM:
Hey WNYBubba. Getting to Union Station is breeze! It is Union Station, you are right. DC is a super friendly bicycle city with tons of bike lanes. You can also ride along the National Mall which is surprisingly big. Just punch Union Station into Google maps. I have done this a few times. No problems. I think other than rush hours, you can bring you bike on the Metro. I stayed at hotels in Arlington near the airport. It’s a little bit away from downtown DC but I got lower rates out there. You might also get lower rates with Covid affecting how many people are traveling and they might be trying to entice people. There’s a hostel in DC also if you’re looking to save money. But it all depends on your budget. The extra day is a good idea if you want that. If you were to have mechanical issues, any bike shop you contact should be able to come and meet you at a trail access point and offer you a shuttle into town for a fee. I will defer to others on this forum when it comes to history, they’ll have some good feedback. I would definitely see Great Falls just outside DC along the C&O. Incredible rapids. Don’t forget to take the Western Maryland Rail Trail before and after Hancock, MD. It runs parallel to the C&O for 27 miles. The paved trail is a welcome respite from the gravel or dirt paths and possibly mud. Don’t worry, its not cheating even if you’re a purist. I don’t know anyone that has done Pittsburgh to DC and NOT gotten on the WMRT! You can get on at Little Orleans, you will take a detour for 2+ miles that puts you back on the C&O (there a tunnel that is filled with a bat habitat and wouldn’t be safe for human passage), then you’re back on the WMRT until just about the end. Just after you pass mile marker 1, start looking for the interchange to get back on the C&O. If you reach the end of the WMRT, you’ve gone too far, go back 3/4ths of a mile for the switch. In addition, when you reach Georgetown at the end of the cobblestone trail, it appears you have concluded your ride. But there is still 3/10ths of a mile to go! To reach the Mile 0 marker at Thompson Boat House, follow this video that got me there the first time I did the trail: https://youtu.be/9kzs51zRsSY I always cap off my DC trip at the Lincoln Monument and reflecting pool. If you have time, don’t forget to visit Gravelly Point at Reagan/National Airport right on the Mt. Vernon trail. The planes take off or land right over your head. It’s quite a sight.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 4/8/2021 9:18:10 PM:
John W has done a good job in answering your questions. Regarding side trips or points of interest I would repeat the response I have made to similar questions. Take some time before you embark n the trip to seek out and read about the histories of both the GAP and the C&O. The more you know about these trails, the more you will appreciate what you will see and pass along the way. Knowing about the history of the railroads from DC/Baltimore to Pittsburgh and beyond and the industries, notably coal and coke, that were serviced by these industries will make those simple sights along the GAP more meaningful. Armed with that knowledge, you can almost envision what life was like in the early 1900’s as you ride along and see the vestiges of the steel mills, coal mines an coke ovens. The same holds true for the C&O and its development, use and demise.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 4/8/2021 9:18:11 PM:
John W has done a good job in answering your questions. Regarding side trips or points of interest I would repeat the response I have made to similar questions. Take some time before you embark on the trip to seek out and read about the histories of both the GAP and the C&O. The more you know about these trails, the more you will appreciate what you will see and pass along the way. Knowing about the history of the railroads from DC/Baltimore to Pittsburgh and beyond and the industries, notably coal and coke, that were serviced by these industries will make those simple sights along the GAP more meaningful. Armed with that knowledge, you can almost envision what life was like in the early 1900’s as you ride along and see the vestiges of the steel mills, coal mines an coke ovens. The same holds true for the C&O and its development, use and demise.

 
Anonymous on 4/12/2021 8:28:16 PM:
We stayed at the Tabard Inn last summer. Easy to get to from Rock Creek, the price was reasonable, and they stored our bikes in a storeroom without any issue.