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Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 5/31/2022 1:01:27 PM:
There has been much discussion and description of the Paw Paw Tunnel bypass detour path up and over the tunnel. One difference I found last week compared to last fall is that the downriver side of the bypass route is much more rough and rutted. Last fall I was able to ride down the last 3/4 of that descent. There is currently construction being performed at the summit of the detour and their vehicles, including crawler track equipment, has traveled up and down that downriver side. This has made deep, rough ruts and tracks along the way. With wet weather, that surface is even rougher at this time. Also there is a wooden "bridge" near the bottom made of planking with gaps between the planks into which your tires could fall causing a crash if you try to ride across it. So beware. For info, it took me about 50 minutes to push my loaded bike up and over the detour this year...admittedly with frequent stops to recover. The bypass is not for the faint of heart. I did however encounter a young person on a geared down mountain bike that had ridden up the majority of the upriver side of the bypass.

 
Andrew from Pittsburgh on 6/1/2022 11:42:22 AM:
Do you think the road detour up to the top coming from the upriver side is doable, either taking Oldtown Rd. to Malcolm Rd. or leaving the trail a mile upriver of Oldtown Rd. to reach Sulphur Springs Rd.? Is that how the person you encountered got to the top, or did they take the actual bypass up?

 
John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 6/1/2022 4:03:08 PM:
The road detour to the top is possible but you’d still have to come back down to the trail on the dirt detour. You can’t connect to the C&O at Sulphur Springs Rd as there is swampland/farmland between the Trail and the road. I’m not saying it has never been done but it doesn’t look possible. You could get off the trail at Rt. 51 (Oldtown Rd. SE) and go to Malcolm Rd, turn right on Oldtown Orleans Rd. and stay on that all the way to Little Orleans, MD and skip the entire detour. I’ve not done this before so I can’t comment but Google maps says it’s 13 miles. I would bet this route is super Appalachian style hilly so pick your poison. There no flat way around Paw Paw Tunnel. This is also a very remote stretch. You may want to look at RideWithGPS or Strava heat maps and see if anyone else has tried this route.

 
Andrew from Pittsburgh on 6/1/2022 5:44:27 PM:
For getting to Sulfur Springs Rd, this cut through (https://goo.gl/maps/MnXjE47brbYWASFAA) doesn't connect over? There are some houses back there in the satellite view, so it looks like a viable access point. My goal would be to bike up and then walk the bikes down. Easier to go downhill on foot than push the bike up. The road route mapped on google would look interesting if I was on my own, but I will be riding with my kids, and they won't want to climb almost as much in 6 miles leaving Paw Paw as we would climb in going from Pittsburgh to the continental divide. :)

 
Ross from Indiana on 6/1/2022 6:17:11 PM:
Thanks for the update. We'll be through there next week.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 6/1/2022 7:40:03 PM:
Ross: The rider I encountered on the bypass was riding up the upriver side of the detour path. He was a young (30 something) rider on a geared down mountain bike and was within maybe 150 yards of the top when he finally stopped. His two travelling mates were pushing their bikes up the ascent as I was pushing mine down. (In full disclosure, I ride lots of road miles but I am 71 years old. So take my opinions for what they are worth in that context.) If you are in good shape and not riding a heavily laden bike, you should be able to get up and over the summit, albeit pushing your bike much or all of the way up and down, without expending greater energy than trying to ride Oldtown Road and others to get to the top. And, as John W. notes, you still have to get down the descent. Reading your most recent post about your kids riding with you, that casts another light on the question depending on their ages and condition. You may want to consider a shuttle around the Tunnel Bypass. Earlier posts provide info, cost and contact info about that service.

 
John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 6/2/2022 9:05:26 AM:
Andrew, do you have the lat/long of that cut through you sent? It looks good, two paths intersecting, but when I do street view at the trail & Sulpher Springs Rd, it doesn’t show that, it’s just a field. If that is Sulphur Springs Rd and it does indeed cut through then go for it!

 
Andrew from Pittsburgh on 6/2/2022 11:09:54 AM:
John, This is the google maps link with the lat/lon: https://www.google.com/maps/place/39%C2%B031'54.8%22N+78%C2%B027'56.3%22W (39°31'54.8"N 78°27'56.3"W) or (39.531889, -78.465639) This appears to be the access road to the field between the trail and the river. Streetview shows a mobile home on the field side with "No Trespassing" signs, but the other side does not have any posted signs. I looked at the Strava heat map, and it does show some people leaving the trail there, and then taking roads up to the top of the detour and then the rest of the detour down to the trail on the downriver side. Rivnuts, this will be our 5th summer in a row riding to DC from Pittsburgh. Every year there has been the threat of the tunnel being closed, but this is finally the year that it looks like they are following through. My kids are older teens now and certainly capable, but they like to complain so if we can ride up rather than push, that will likely lead to fewer complaints. Walking down should be less of an issue.

 
Ross from Indiana on 6/2/2022 11:11:07 AM:
Rivnuts: Thanks. We are traveling light and always up for adventure. Sounds like we'll be ok. That must be someone else with the kids. We are leaving ours home.

 
John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 6/2/2022 12:45:45 PM:
Andrew: Thanks for those coordinates, now I see where you are talking about. Certainly looks like you can connect to the main roads from this dirt path. If you complete it, give us a recap of the detour. It might give others something to consider until the Paw Paw detour is no more. I’m curious if it has a lot of elevation gain or not. Also, go to OpenStreetMap (dot org) and zoom to the coordinate and they have a different street basemap which contains the road you saw in the street view. John

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 6/2/2022 1:38:04 PM:
Teens with unloaded bikes should be able to get up and over the bypass but it’s not clear how much they may be able to ride. Let us know how you all fare

 
McBoom from Springfield on 6/2/2022 3:19:34 PM:
Does anyone know if the "late summer" reopening of the trail down river of the Paw Paw Tunnel is still on schedule?

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 6/2/2022 3:31:17 PM:
From the NPS C&O Canal website regarding the closure between MP 88 and 89. “The project began in August 2021 and is anticipated to continue through winter 2022/23, weather dependent.”

 
McBoom from Springfield on 6/2/2022 3:35:08 PM:
Well darn.

 
Andrew from Pittsburgh on 6/2/2022 3:49:01 PM:
Teens with unloaded bikes? I'm not a packmule. While I carry the tent and food, they have to haul their clothes and sleeping bags, etc. The younger of the two has done this since they were 12. :) I will give a report after our trip. We are planning on leaving Pittsburgh June 17th. Although if we end up in the middle of a week of rain the trip will likely be called for weather.

 
Jeff Mandel from Media, PA on 6/2/2022 6:42:50 PM:
It was supposed to rain today, so I arranged for the shuttle with Dan. It began to rain as we put the bike on the car. He charges the same to go to Little Orleans or Hancock, so I had him drop me off in front of C&O Bike Shop just before the rain got to Hancock. I walked around town, had an early dinner, got back to the Chicken Coop just as a couple who had passed me at Lock 70 rode by. Dan is a really nice guy, full of information, and we swapped stories the entire drive. I don’t think dragging my bike and 35# of gear over the detour is a life experience of which I’ve been deprived.

 
Ross from Indiana on 6/9/2022 9:32:35 PM:
We rode from Meyersdale to Hanjcock today. The tunnel bypass was well marked and in good condition. We stopped several times to catch our breath pushing the bikes up and were able to ride the entire length down. The top 1/4 is very very steep. We went very slow but it was better than walking. The makeshift bridges do have gaps to watch out for. It looked like they had graded the ruts out. Thanks to everyone for the heads up. I really would not want to take this heading to Cumberland. I think you'd be walking most of it.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 6/9/2022 10:34:46 PM:
Ross: Thanks for that update. For info, are you riding self supported with a loaded bike? What you describe is what I have typically found the bypass to be like in previous trips when dry and without any construction at the top. As you note, the downriver descent can be ridden carefully after that early steep portion so long as it is not muddy and rutted. Enjoy the rest of your trip. PS: My recent trip was headed toward Cumberland, so I barely rode any of the detour. Had to.push virtually the entire detour with my loaded bike. Rivnuts (and native Hoosier)

 
Ross from Indiana on 6/10/2022 6:18:05 AM:
Rivnuts: Yes, we are riding unsupported but we are staying in hotels and are just carrying changes of clothes.

 
Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 6/10/2022 6:58:57 AM: