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  1. #1
    Ceci n'est pas un vélo. mtclifford's Avatar
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    Paved alternatives to the GAP and C&O?

    I am doing the GAP and C&O starting next Thursday. I am sure after a couple days my ass will be begging for some paved roads. I know there are a couple places where you can get off the trail, ride for 20-30 miles or so on roads and get back on. Anyone have a comprehensive list of these? I have found one or two areas in journals but no detailed routes, and no comprehensive list. If anyone has this I would be greatly appreciative.

  2. #2
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtclifford View Post
    I am doing the GAP and C&O starting next Thursday. I am sure after a couple days my ass will be begging for some paved roads. I know there are a couple places where you can get off the trail, ride for 20-30 miles or so on roads and get back on. Anyone have a comprehensive list of these? I have found one or two areas in journals but no detailed routes, and no comprehensive list. If anyone has this I would be greatly appreciative.
    The gravel on the GAP is as smooth as gravel gets. I don't see any problem riding on that surface. Also, anything off-trail involves climbing, and in many cases a LOT of climbing.

    Now for the C & O, there are some alternates. Every time I've ridden it I've used the Western Maryland Rail Trail from Pearre to Hancock, and Hancock to Big Pool. Twice I went past Big Pool another mile to the end, and took Rt. 56 a mile to Fort Frederick. I rode through the park back to the C & O. Other folks have ridden 56 to Rt. 68, and followed that into Williamsport. From there, either remain on 68 or take 63. Both roads lead to Rt. 65, which takes you into Antietam Battlefield and the town of Sharpsburg. Stop at Nutters for ice cream and decide if you want to take Rt 34 to Shepherdstown or Harper's Ferry Road to Antietam Creek. Harper's Ferry Road is very steep, and I find my trailer wants to take over the bike on steep descents, so I took 34. Just before the bridge into West Virginia I turned off onto Canal Road, which surprisingly enough runs along the canal. (There's also a switchback ramp down to the towpath.) I got back on the towpath at Antietam.

    All these roads are more or less rideable. 65 and 34 have nice wide shoulders. The only concerns I had were on 63 - I noticed a lot of boat trailers, and I took extra caution to avoid getting hit by them.

  3. #3
    Neil_B
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    PM the Potomac Queen "JAGraham." If anyone could answer the question, she could.

    That said, Google Maps shows some roads along the canal from Harper's Ferry to Brunswick. Also, there seem to be some local roads from Point of Rocks to White's Ferry.

  4. #4
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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  5. #5
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    You can also go about the last 10 miles into DC on a road/paved biked trail. Just after Widewater (an area where the Canal is indeed wide), cross over the canal and go a short distance (maybe 150 yards) through a parking area to MacArthur Blvd. There's a paved biked trail adjacent to MacArthur Blvd, though many cyclists prefer to ride on the road itself. It's virtually flat until just before the MD/DC line about 5 miles ahead, where you go up a hill to a traffic light. In the forest to the left, there's a paved short but absurdly steep path down to the Capital Crescent Trail, which is an excellent paved rail/trail all the way into Georgetown where the C&O Canal begins.

    You can also stay on MacArthur and get on the Capital Crescent Trail about 1/2 mile ahead in DC. After you go down the hill, you'll come to a traffic light. Turn Right onto Norton, then left at the T to Potomac Ave, go maybe 0.2 mile, then look for wooden stairs down to the Capital Crescent Trail. For the final 2 or 3 miles, the Capital Crescent & the C&O Canal are just a few feet apart.

  6. #6
    Ceci n'est pas un vélo. mtclifford's Avatar
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    Wow, thanks for all the advice guys! I think I am going to take the Western Maryland Trail to Big Pool and then bail to the road until across the river from Shepherdstown. I might also take the Crescent trail, though it depends on how I am feeling that day.

    I was looking for a cheap campground near Williamsport and the only ones I can find are almost $40 a day....heck for that much I can get a hotel. There also seems to be a bike friendly B&B in downtown Williamsport...so who knows, I have been told the campsites on the canal are pretty miserable. Anyway thanks for the advice everyone!

  7. #7
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtclifford View Post
    Wow, thanks for all the advice guys! I think I am going to take the Western Maryland Trail to Big Pool and then bail to the road until across the river from Shepherdstown. I might also take the Crescent trail, though it depends on how I am feeling that day.

    I was looking for a cheap campground near Williamsport and the only ones I can find are almost $40 a day....heck for that much I can get a hotel. There also seems to be a bike friendly B&B in downtown Williamsport...so who knows, I have been told the campsites on the canal are pretty miserable. Anyway thanks for the advice everyone!
    In addition to the B & B, which is a new bike-friendly business according to a report I heard on the trail in June, there's also the Red Roof Inn, which is clean and comfortable as well as cheap.

    The hiker/biker sites on the C & O are fine in dry weather. They are primitive, in that they don't have running water or flush toilets, but aside from that they are quite nice. The chemical toilets are in good condition and the cistern pumps work.

    My campsite at Purslane Run, just outside Paw Paw, WV, in August 2008.



    At Indian Flats just north of White's Ferry that same trip:



    Guest on my front tire at Indian Flats:


  8. #8
    Ceci n'est pas un vélo. mtclifford's Avatar
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    Wow thats actually looks pretty nice. I am spending my second night near paw paw, third one near Williamsport. Fourth night I think I am staying at mile marker 28...that way Monday I can just wheel down to Union Station early and get my bike packed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mtclifford View Post
    I am doing the GAP and C&O starting next Thursday. I am sure after a couple days my ass will be begging for some paved roads.
    I had exactly that thought when I road the trail this spring. Using some local maps, I figured I'd share the load between trail and road depending on my mood for the day. Took me 3 failed attempts at climbing 15+% grades, around hairpin corners on narrow roads, no shoulders and pick-ups whizzing by to decide that I really did love that trail.

    You won't miss the road too much on the GAP, but about the 2nd day of C&O you'll start hallucinating pavement. Course, didn't you ride up to Dolly Sods not to long ago? Pfffft, C&O is nothin'.

  10. #10
    Ceci n'est pas un vélo. mtclifford's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dewaday View Post
    I had exactly that thought when I road the trail this spring. Using some local maps, I figured I'd share the load between trail and road depending on my mood for the day. Took me 3 failed attempts at climbing 15+% grades, around hairpin corners on narrow roads, no shoulders and pick-ups whizzing by to decide that I really did love that trail.

    You won't miss the road too much on the GAP, but about the 2nd day of C&O you'll start hallucinating pavement. Course, didn't you ride up to Dolly Sods not to long ago? Pfffft, C&O is nothin'.
    I am more concerned about boredom than anything else. That and the road buzz of crushed limestone kind of wears your body down after a while. Either way it looks like 2 days on the trail and then bailing to the roads for a day...then back onto the C&O somewhere near Brunswick.

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