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Reply to Harpers Ferry spiral staircase

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Reply to Harpers Ferry spiral staircase
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RW from Columbus, OH on 8/8/2019 7:21:41 AM:
Hey riders! I've heard a horror story regarding getting your bike and gear up a spiral staircase (which has been described as the Stairs of Cirith Ungol in Mordor) from the C&O up and into Harper's Ferry. Can anyone give me another viewpoint? Is this a total drag? Thanks!

JK on 8/8/2019 7:35:22 AM:
The staircase isn’t a huge deal except that you will likely need to first remove anything heavy off of your bike first. I think the stories are overrated.

ppvora from Downingtown, PA on 8/8/2019 8:17:11 AM:
I was on the towpath from Little Orleans, MD to Harper's Ferry, WV and back toward the end of July this year. There were two instances where we had to lift our bikes and carry them up and down staircases: (1) In Williamsport MD, they are repairing the towpath and there's a detour in town over a wooden bridge. The wooden bridge has a rail on the side on which one can ride their bike up and down -- you have to angle it so that the pedals don't strike the rail. (2) In Harper's Ferry to cross the river one has to go up the bridge on the Maryland side but on the WV side there's a ramp for rolling your bike. Neither bridge was too challenging. However, although we had heavy bikes, our panniers were pretty small and light. I saw bikers on the towpath with some serious panniers attached to their bikes that appeared to be laden with a lot of stuff. I'm guessing they would have to unhitch the panniers off the bikes and carry the bike and the panniers up separately. In our case, we took at most 10 minutes on the bridges, so it wasn't challenging at all.

ppvora from Downingtown,PA on 8/8/2019 8:21:32 AM:
One small addition to my previous post: in Williamsport, it is possible to avoid having to lift and carry your stuff up and down the bridge. On the south side of Williamsport, one reaches a lock just before reaching the town. You can exit the towpath at the lock to a small parking area that leads to roads into town that will allow one to go to the other end of the detour. Same thing can be done in reverse -- the lock on the south side of the town is the key to this strategy.

Ana from Durham on 8/8/2019 10:32:17 AM:
We were coming from Cumberland to DC so we had to bring our bikes up the staircase. It looked worse than it actually was, definitely don't be discouraged! We took off our panniers and other heavy things like someone else noted, brought the bikes up, then went back down for the gear, loaded the bikes back up, and rolled into Harper's Ferry. All in all, probably took about 10 minutes. I can see how it would be more treacherous/difficult in rainy or icy conditions. Or if you were wearing cleats (we wore civilian shoes on our trip). There's a bike rack at the bottom of the staircase, and the staircase itself lets out on a bridge with a separate bike/ped path. Good luck!

Dave Gorman from Hollidaysburg, PA on 8/8/2019 4:26:29 PM:
I think the main issue is that the bridge and staircase are metel so there may be a issue with regard to biking shoes.

SGK from Northern Va on 8/13/2019 11:49:15 AM:
We used to bike the canal every October loaded with camping gear and never even shed our gear to carry our bikes up. I would carry my wife’s bike but it’s not really that bad a climb even with full gear. Don’t be intimidated.

Copydoc86 from Clayton, IN on 9/5/2019 5:11:50 PM:
I was simply not going to visit Harper's Ferry when I read the description of the "spiral" staircase to get there. I have since changed my mind when I read the historical, and interesting features that Harpers Ferry had to offer. I also looked at the actual stair case on google maps. It looks like a reasonably wide stairway that wraps around a bridge support. It does not look like your typical spiral staircase. I will update my post after I have climbed the "Stairs of Cirith Ungol in Mordor" to let you know how it went!

Dave Gorman from Hollidaysburg on 9/5/2019 7:30:55 PM:
I have done this and it is NOT Mount Everest but you should be careful if you have biking shoes as opposed to mountain biking shoes. If you take it slowly you will be fine. Plus if you have bags on your bike you can take the bags off take the bike up and then bring the bags up.

Lyn from Tuscarora pa on 9/6/2019 10:52:19 AM:
You do not have to take the staircase and go to Harpers Ferry to continue on the C&O. You only need to drag your bike and all your stuff up the staircase if you want to go to Harpers Ferry you can continue along the path just fine without it

Richard from DC on 9/6/2019 12:22:59 PM:
You probably shouldn't complain about taking a bike and gear up the spiral staircase. During the Civil War, Union troops hauled a 20,000 pound cannon up the road to Maryland Heights that looms above the staircase.