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Thread: C&O Canal

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    afoot and lighthearted Boondock's Avatar
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    C&O Canal

    I'm 8 months into a tour. I started in Seattle... rode down the coast... then east of the Southern Tier... down to Key West... then up the east coast (taking the Blue Ridge and Sky Line Drive) Now I'm on the C&O Canal... and NOW I KNOW why people have been writing about this awesome place. It's my favorite touring location so far (with the Oregon Coast as a second)

    If you haven't toured on the C&O... make plans to do it!!! I'm halfway thru it, and plan on taking the Great Allegheny Passage up to Pittsburgh.

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    Yup, I'll be on it in about 3 weeks.

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    afoot and lighthearted Boondock's Avatar
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    There was a thread posted 4 days ago about the C&O being flooded. That was the day I started on the trail, and I guess most of the water has receded. There was one hiker/biker campsite that was still too wet. I can't remember the name, but it was the first one down-river from Big Woods campsite. There were 2 trees down and covering the trail but I just lugged the bike over or around.

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    I have lived in Maryland, first in Silver Spring outside Washington and now in Calvert County for a total of 35 yrs. I have ridden on the C&O Canal Tow Path, but haven't gotten around to riding the full length. This summer I plan to ride cross country, using the Lewis & Clark trail and Northern Tier and then coming down the Alleghany Passage and Tow Path. All I can say is it is about time.

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    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Boondock,

    Did you ride the GAP too?

    Any chance you were near Monaca, PA last Sunday before noon?
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

    Albert Einstein

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boondock View Post
    I'm 8 months into a tour. I started in Seattle... rode down the coast... then east of the Southern Tier... down to Key West... then up the east coast (taking the Blue Ridge and Sky Line Drive) Now I'm on the C&O Canal... and NOW I KNOW why people have been writing about this awesome place. It's my favorite touring location so far (with the Oregon Coast as a second)

    If you haven't toured on the C&O... make plans to do it!!! I'm halfway thru it, and plan on taking the Great Allegheny Passage up to Pittsburgh.
    It is one of the most amazing places ever. I grew up one mile from it in Maryland, near DC. There used to be a rope swing that was straight out of a huckleberry finn story just north of Sycamore Island. One big branch of the tree stretched out about 50 feet out, 10 feet above the water where we hung the ladder to get back out, and there would regularly be a hammock up. My buddy and I took the swings from my jungle jim when we got old enough that my parents took it down and we hung them at the end so you could dangle your feet in what felt like the middle of the river. The other branch went high up and out, which is where we tied the rope. The first warm day of the year, you would find 30 people stretched across the tree. And since it was right near Sycamore Island, where my buddy was a member, we could rent canoos for free to take there. Sadly, someone got badly hurt there and the government cut the tree down. The trunk (about as big as a car) is all covered in vines these days, so much so that it can be hard to find. There was another rope swing further south, but it just didn't compare at all. Don't know if it is still in existence (something I definitely should check out soon).

    Anyways, despite the tragic ending of THE rope swing, the canal is still one of my favorite places in the world (when it's not flooded!) and I still live right near it. Planning on riding there tomorrow.

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    Sounds like an awesome tour & I appreciate your endorsement of C & O Canal. I've rode some short sections as a local & it's very picturesque. The trail surface can be a bit bumpy but OTOH the route avoids lots of hills & high-traffic areas. BTW on the way to Key West did you ride the whole way down from Florida City? Have visited the South Florida area & wondered about that.

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    afoot and lighthearted Boondock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    Boondock,

    Did you ride the GAP too?

    Any chance you were near Monaca, PA last Sunday before noon?
    I am going to ride the GAP (the Great Allegheny Passage is a trail that connects to the C&O) but I started at the south. I have meet 4 or 5 other bike tourists... (and a couple of homeless people living on bicycles). I'm headed in your direction, but I'm going slow because I need to pick up a general delivery package and I was hoping to receive it in Cumberland MD

    I stayed at the Harpers Ferry Hostel during the days when it poured down, which was pretty nice. I'm not a big fan of hostels, but when the skies open up, it was nice to be indoors

    spinnaker, if you see a guy towing a Bob in the next 2 weeks, gimme me a shout!

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    afoot and lighthearted Boondock's Avatar
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    DropBarFan, I did ride from Homestead/Florida City... I took Card Sound Road. They are repaving HWY1 and including some wide shoulders so I would bet that the ACA route may change when that section is finished. In the Keys, there is an independent bicycle path, about halfway to Key West. They are also repaving the roads down there and some of the bike path is getting a new surface as well. If you're planning to tour down there, check out some of my videos and you can get a pretty good idea of the conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by DropBarFan View Post
    Sounds like an awesome tour & I appreciate your endorsement of C & O Canal. I've rode some short sections as a local & it's very picturesque. The trail surface can be a bit bumpy but OTOH the route avoids lots of hills & high-traffic areas. BTW on the way to Key West did you ride the whole way down from Florida City? Have visited the South Florida area & wondered about that.

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    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boondock View Post
    I am going to ride the GAP (the Great Allegheny Passage is a trail that connects to the C&O) but I started at the south. I have meet 4 or 5 other bike tourists... (and a couple of homeless people living on bicycles). I'm headed in your direction, but I'm going slow because I need to pick up a general delivery package and I was hoping to receive it in Cumberland MD

    I stayed at the Harpers Ferry Hostel during the days when it poured down, which was pretty nice. I'm not a big fan of hostels, but when the skies open up, it was nice to be indoors

    spinnaker, if you see a guy towing a Bob in the next 2 weeks, gimme me a shout!
    Oh I understand now. You are headed this way. Not sure of your route but if I can help with a place to crash or whatever just PM me. I am right off PA Bike Route A and right near the Montour Trail. If you want to head West form the Montour then you could take the Pan Handle Trail to Stuebenville, OH though it gets a bit rough after the OH border though not much worse than the C&O. But if you want to take the Panhandle, staying at my place would detour you about 15 miles each way (basically back tracking).

    There is a nice hostel at Rockwood. If you hit it during the week there is a chance you ill have it all to yourself. Stop at the Yough Shore Inn, in Boston. You can camp or take a room. But just seeing the rooms are worth the price of admission. Lynn has a theme for all of the rooms and most rooms have had murals painted on the walls. It is a cool place.

    Or you can camp at Dravo which is free but no showers and chem toilets. I believe is the only free camping on the GAP.
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

    Albert Einstein

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    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Also don't even think of camping at Ohiopyle. It is a long hard climb up to the campsite. The trail is very steep and very rocky making it nearly impossible to ride. I would say totally impossible with a trailer.

    Instead go another 18 miles or so to Connellsville Campground. It is right off of the trail.

    If you want to stay here and want to take the Montour and it is a weekend, I could lead you up the trail. But I must tell you , the trail is nearly twice the distance over going through the city. I could also lead you through the city if it is a day off. Going through the city is not all too bad on a weekend. I'd still do it on a weekday but if I was not used to city riding, I would opt for the trail.

    Both routes have their merits. The trail has lots of pretty sections and I think we have as more or certainly as many tunnels as the GAP.
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

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    afoot and lighthearted Boondock's Avatar
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    wow spinnaker, thanks alot. I am particularly interested in the routes you mention. I am planning to spend a couple hours at the public library in Williamsport MD to upload videos. I'm going to do some research and route study using the trails you mention.

    The Montour looks very good heading west

    http://www.panhandletrail.org/images...ap%2024x48.pdf

  13. #13
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    Also don't even think of camping at Ohiopyle. It is a long hard climb up to the campsite. The trail is very steep and very rocky making it nearly impossible to ride. I would say totally impossible with a trailer.

    Instead go another 18 miles or so to Connellsville Campground. It is right off of the trail.
    River's Edge, about three miles north of Connellsville on the trail.

  14. #14
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    Or you can camp at Dravo which is free but no showers and chem toilets. I believe is the only free camping on the GAP.
    About 10 miles north of Connellsville is Round Bottom hiker/biker site.





    And about two miles south of West Newton is Cedar Creek Park, which has free camping.

    Dravo Cemetery is six miles south of Boston, PA.


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    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boondock View Post
    wow spinnaker, thanks alot. I am particularly interested in the routes you mention. I am planning to spend a couple hours at the public library in Williamsport MD to upload videos. I'm going to do some research and route study using the trails you mention.

    The Montour looks very good heading west

    http://www.panhandletrail.org/images...ap%2024x48.pdf
    The Montour can be a little confusing especially coming from the south. Lots of missing pieces and not well marked.

    It would be best if I was there to guide you but in case that cannot be arranged, you should look at their website for all of the detours.
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

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    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    I did not know about the campsite at Round Bottom Historian. Thanks I will make a mental note.

    There was also talk about putting in a campsite along the Montour though I am not sure what came of it. I'll try to do more research.
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

    Albert Einstein

  17. #17
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    I did not know about the campsite at Round Bottom Historian. Thanks I will make a mental note.

    There was also talk about putting in a campsite along the Montour though I am not sure what came of it. I'll try to do more research.
    Montour campsite is open, although I've not been there. It's near one of the detour sections.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rusty5329 View Post
    It is one of the most amazing places ever. I grew up one mile from it in Maryland, near DC. There used to be a rope swing that was straight out of a huckleberry finn story just north of Sycamore Island. One big branch of the tree stretched out about 50 feet out, 10 feet above the water where we hung the ladder to get back out, and there would regularly be a hammock up. My buddy and I took the swings from my jungle jim when we got old enough that my parents took it down and we hung them at the end so you could dangle your feet in what felt like the middle of the river. The other branch went high up and out, which is where we tied the rope. The first warm day of the year, you would find 30 people stretched across the tree. And since it was right near Sycamore Island, where my buddy was a member, we could rent canoos for free to take there. Sadly, someone got badly hurt there and the government cut the tree down. The trunk (about as big as a car) is all covered in vines these days, so much so that it can be hard to find. There was another rope swing further south, but it just didn't compare at all. Don't know if it is still in existence (something I definitely should check out soon).

    Anyways, despite the tragic ending of THE rope swing, the canal is still one of my favorite places in the world (when it's not flooded!) and I still live right near it. Planning on riding there tomorrow.
    I also grew up walking distance to the canal & Sycamore Island. One of the most exhilarating things I've ever done was to go flying down the frozen Potomac on ice skates. A cold front had come thru during the night and there were 40+mph winds. A friend and I took an old blanket and a couple of hockey sticks down to the river. We skated upriver between Sycamore Island and the towpath then out into the middle of the river, then put our hockey sticks in the satin on each end of the blanket. The wind was so powerful that the moment we stuck our blanket/sail into the air, we took off like rockets. Within a second or two, we were flying down the river at the speed of the wind. The river had strangely frozen with the surface having hundreds of low bumps per square yard. The effect was that our whole bodies including our eyeballs vibrated intensely while we were flying down the river over the little bumps, so everything was a blur to our eyes. As we approached Little Falls dam, we veered toward the MD shore to stop. Then we rolled up the blanket and skated upriver (with great difficulty against the wind) to do it again and again, until we were so cold that we couldn't take it any longer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boondock View Post
    I'm 8 months into a tour. I started in Seattle... rode down the coast... then east of the Southern Tier... down to Key West... then up the east coast (taking the Blue Ridge and Sky Line Drive) Now I'm on the C&O Canal... and NOW I KNOW why people have been writing about this awesome place. It's my favorite touring location so far (with the Oregon Coast as a second)

    If you haven't toured on the C&O... make plans to do it!!! I'm halfway thru it, and plan on taking the Great Allegheny Passage up to Pittsburgh.
    I've got to admit, this sort of amazes me, especially given the magnificent scenery you've got in the Pacific Northwest. I grew up near the canal and rode on it a lot as a kid, and I think it's a wonderful place. However, when a friend & I biked from McKeesport to DC a few years ago, we both got somewhat bored with the pleasant but largely unchanging scenery along the length of the towpath. We absolutely loved the GAP Trail, however.

  20. #20
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by axolotl View Post
    I've got to admit, this sort of amazes me, especially given the magnificent scenery you've got in the Pacific Northwest. I grew up near the canal and rode on it a lot as a kid, and I think it's a wonderful place. However, when a friend & I biked from McKeesport to DC a few years ago, we both got somewhat bored with the pleasant but largely unchanging scenery along the length of the towpath. We absolutely loved the GAP Trail, however.
    He hasn't seen the GAP yet. The best is yet to come.....

  21. #21
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
    Montour campsite is open, although I've not been there. It's near one of the detour sections.
    Apparently near Cecil.

    http://www.montourtrail.org/camping.html

    Which is good for the OP if he decides to take the Panhandle and not stay with me. He hits the Panhandle well after Cecil.

    The FAQ says there is no camping along the trail yet they have a page that talks about camping. I will have to let Dennis know so he can get that to the right person to have it fixed.
    Last edited by spinnaker; 04-24-11 at 01:20 PM.
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

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    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
    He hasn't seen the GAP yet. The best is yet to come.....
    The best near Ohopyle. But the view right before the Big Savage is very beautiful too.

    And I like to think there are sections of the Montour that might not be as impressive as Ohiopyle but very scenic in their own right. Especially now when the streams are running big and fast due to all this rain.

    I also really like the area around Bethal Park with the horse farm and the tunnel with a bridge at each end. That is one of my favorite areas on the Montour.
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

    Albert Einstein

  23. #23
    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    Also don't even think of camping at Ohiopyle. It is a long hard climb up to the campsite. The trail is very steep and very rocky making it nearly impossible to ride. I would say totally impossible with a trailer.
    .
    There's the COE campground right by the dam though...

  24. #24
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
    There's the COE campground right by the dam though...
    That's 11 miles south on the trail in Confluence.

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    afoot and lighthearted Boondock's Avatar
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    I thank all of you for sharing your knowledge about the C&O and the GAP. I've learned alot. I'm currently in Williamsport MD uploading videos (about the C&O). This will not be my last time touring here.

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