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Reply to enforcement of closing at dusk

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Reply to enforcement of closing at dusk
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Biff the Janitor from Athens, Ohio on 3/20/2019 11:27:53 PM:
I'm used to riding rail trails that are open 24 hours a day. So, I'm wondering just how "closed dusk to dawn" works or is enforced on both the GAP and C&O trails. I understand the operating bodies of each trail differ, so is there a difference in enforcement? Is it low-key or do some sort of rangers do a post-dusk patrol? It's all unknown to me, I'm used to being able to ride at night (with lights) and not wonder whether I am running afoul of laws or rules.

Eagle1 from Pittsburgh on 3/21/2019 4:42:34 PM:
My thoughts on the "dawn to dusk" rules. I've been told that the rule originated around the time the various parts of the trail were opening. In an effort to not affront the locals that live close to the trail (by having riders, runners, dog walkers)out there at all times of the day), that it was thought best to incorporate the "dawn to dusk" usage rule. I'm sure that this then was replicated for each new section opening. My practical experience (at least on the GAP) trail is that it is not monitored and that the occasional ride through in the dark is not an issue. Making oneself a nuisance while passing through (noise, etc) is a different matter and may make cause for a phone call to an authority.

John from Pittsburgh on 3/21/2019 10:03:06 PM:
Eagle nails exactly how I feel about that rule. I also assume it’s to ward off kids from going back there at night so it’s not party central (not that that ever stopped them before!). Also, many people have arrived at campsites we’ll after dark with their headlamps on. They may have gotten a flat they couldn’t fix or some other bicycle issue that slowed them down. Certainly no one is abandoning the trail or turning around because of the dawn to dusk rule, they’re going until they arrive at camp or trail town. Happy Riding!

JK on 3/22/2019 7:43:54 AM:
While it may not be enforced, I would be EXTREMELY skeptical to ride on the towpath at night. There are several areas where there are hidden roots and close passings right next to water, and on aqueducts. Several of these are challenging enough during daylight hours. I think the reason this rule exists is for your SAFETY, plain and simple. I would do everything possible to avoid it. There is much less room for error on the towpath versus your typical rail trail.

Cenzo from Hatfield PA on 3/22/2019 12:15:47 PM:
In 2015 I was sleeping at horsemen branch and at about 2:30 am I was awoken by what must have been an ebike with a very bright headlight doing at least 25 mph towards Georgetown.

Biff the Janitor from Athens, Ohio on 3/23/2019 10:27:31 PM:
Thanks to all for the information. I was mostly curious about the sort of 'being a bit late getting off the trail' thing, riding a trail for the first time at night would be pretty goofy - even for me.

jb on 3/25/2019 9:19:09 PM:
I've done many overnight, solo campouts along the C & O and believe me there is nothing worse than having your tent approached by strangers late at night after you have turned in. The latest version was three years ago when two married couples wandered down off the trail near midnight and asked me if I minded if I shared the campsite with them. I was so relieved that they weren't axe murderers I was happy to share. They did keep me awake til around 2:00am as they tried to fix a flat. (That was the reason for their late arrival) I always try to set up camp at least 2 hrs before nightfall, but I realize that stuff happens out there and people get delayed for one reason or another especially with all the mud and detours. Other than being a park rule, there are a ton of logical reasons not to bike that trail in the dark. You fall and get hurt your gonna lay there a long time before someone comes along. Ultimately though, its just a matter of respect for other campers and for the park itself.