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Reply to East to West, or visa versa, which is best?

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Reply to East to West, or visa versa, which is best?
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PJE from Iowa City, IA on 2/25/2019 5:24:44 PM:
Siblings and I are biking the C & O/GAP trail in early June 2019 with a support vehicle. We can't decide which direction is best. Pittsburgh to Washington or visa versa.

 
Telo from Robinson PA on 2/25/2019 5:51:56 PM:
Most people agree that travelling Eastbound from Pittsburgh to DC is a bit easier. The starting point at Pittsburgh is at elevation 710, and the elevation at DC is near 0, so just from that you have a net decrease in elevation of around 710 ft. Another huge advantage is the fact that the 16 mile segment between Frostburg MD and Cumberland MD drops about 1900 ft. making it a very easy trip down the mountain, as opposed to a tough uphill pedal if you start at DC. If you don't want to pedal uphill to Frostburg, there is a very interesting scenic railroad that follows the bike path between Cumberland & Frostburg that allows you to load your bikes onto the train and sit back and enjoy the fantastic view. In either direction though, it's a great trip that's not real difficult. (Unless the year happens to be 2018 and rains every day turning the C & O into a quagmire)

 
John from Pittsburgh on 2/25/2019 5:52:37 PM:
Both directions are great! My opinion is that I like to go Pittsburgh to DC. I live in Pittsburgh so it's kind of anti-climactic to arrive at something I'm familiar with...DC is somewhere I'm not from so it's kind of exciting to arrive there and see the buzz of the city and all of the sights. The uphill on the GAP from Pittsburgh to the Continental Divide is barely noticeable. Then you are rewarded with 24 miles of downhill bliss at 1-2% grade to Cumberland. The C&O Canal from Cumberland to DC is very flat except for the locks where you get these little plunges down a few feet. Not much but at least you aren't going up them. Others like the opposite direction because although they have to grind up the continental divide for 24 miles (really, it's not too bad though), they feel the gradual downhill over 124 miles to Pittsburgh was worth the sacrifice and they expend less effort. Not sure if wind is any factor. Both trails meander in so many directions along different rivers and you are covered by trees in many places it kind of renders that subject meaningless. It's a great debate that always brings up many different answers. Happy Riding!

 
Ted from Munhall, PA on 2/25/2019 9:10:33 PM:
The earlier commenters have provided good discussion of the pros and cons of travelling the GAP/C&O in each of the directions. I'll add a couple more observations. The weather could be something to consider if your itinerary is flexible given your use of a support vehicle. The C&O, especially the northern end from Little Orleans to Cumberland, can be a challenge and certainly less enjoyable following heavy rains as it can be quite muddy. So if there is rain in the forecast during the week, adjusting your schedule to travel that section on and after dry days would be more enjoyable. If there is rain in the forecast for the first day of your trip, starting in Pittsburgh is easier since the first 20 miles leaving the city is paved. The GAP trail beyond the pavement takes the rain much better than the C&O. On an unrelated issue. I think you'll find the trip more enjoyable if you spend a little time before the trip studying the histories of the two trails (GAP and C&O) and the sites/towns along the way.

 
Gary from NC from Charlotte on 2/26/2019 11:23:27 PM:
I have done it both ways. I prefer the DC to Pitt. The 24 mile grind from Cumberland was easier then the constant uphill for 120 miles . Get it done and your done. But, riding into DC is nice. I will see you all in July for my next trip. Always a fun adventure. Must be better then 2018. Gary

 
Larry from Cumberland on 3/6/2019 7:53:43 PM:
I have done the route both ways several times. Since you live in Iowa I strongly suggest you got DC to Pittsburgh. You are 5 hrs closer to home. Also the C&O is a less friendly surface to ride, you get the hard part done first. You only climb 650 from DC to Cumberland. The 23 mile climb out Cumberland is a easy 1 1/2 % grade. And a climb of 1200 ft. Then you have a fairly smooth down hill to Pittsburgh at 670 ft. DC to Pittsburgh is my favorite way because you have an easy ride at the end. Both ways work.