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Old 06-20-11, 07:20 PM   #1
KateE
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Animals and GAP and CO

I am going to start my first tour next week from Pittsburgh to DC. I was wondering if anyone could comment on animal encounters on the trails...? I am figuring that raccoons might need to be planned on but are there others that I should be concerned with?

Thanks!
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Old 06-20-11, 08:36 PM   #2
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If you are lucky you will see a black bear or two. Keep your eyes down to the river along the shore. You will see lots of deer. Plenty rabbits and ground hogs.

Lots of cranes and turtles along the C&O.





Camping, raccoons and skunks will be the only real issue.

Let me know if you need anything at the Pittsburgh end. Shuttle, tour guide, a place to stay, advice, whatever, assuming I am home. I will be out July 4th weekend riding the Greenbriar Trail. Other than that I should be around.


Where is your planned start in Pittsburgh? I live just a mile or two from the Montour Trail which connects to the GAP.

You could also take the new trail that starts in Homestead. I can give you a good route to Homestead should you decide to go that way.
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Old 06-21-11, 04:58 AM   #3
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Good luck seeing a crane on the ride. You're much more likely to see Herons: Great Blue Heron (pictured above), Green Heron and Night Heron (both yellow crowned and black crowned). If you're at the river side at dusk you can watch the "changing of the guard" as the Great Blue Herons will be flying back to their nest and the Night Heron will be waking up.
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Old 06-21-11, 05:14 AM   #4
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There is lots of wildlife to enjoy, lots of turkeys, sometimes a hen with her younguns. Deer are plentiful, Never seen the bear but some have been lucky. You will enjoy riding these great trails. Have fun!
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Old 06-21-11, 05:14 AM   #5
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Thanks for the info...loved the picture of the turtles! I think I was most concerned with bears and wondering if I should take a bear proof device for all the smelly stuff I will be taking along. When car camping, raccoons and skunks are easy to deal with because you can just lock it all in the car. I suppose the bear proof device would be overkill for the raccoons and skunks but it certainly would work.

I am headed to Pittsburgh next Wednesday. Our original plan was to start in McKeesport. Last night I read about the new trail opening up and the difficulty of the one road leading to McKeesport. ...so I am interested in learning more. Let me confirm my itinerary and get back with questions.

We may be staying in Pittsburgh on the way back, but not confirmed yet. You know...it all depends on timing and when we leave DC that day.
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Old 06-21-11, 07:14 AM   #6
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There is one creature on the GAP you should beware. It haunts, and hunts, on the highest part of the trail, near the Deal trailhead. This fearsome beast is.....



Nola the trail cat! Be careful.... she likes to lure people in by asking to have her belly rubbed. And then she'll scratch you when she gets tired of it.

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Old 06-21-11, 07:35 AM   #7
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There is one creature on the GAP you should beware. It haunts, and hunts, on the highest part of the trail, near the Deal trailhead. This fearsome beast is.....



Nola the trail cat! Be careful.... she likes to lure people in by asking to have her belly rubbed. And then she'll scratch you when she gets tired of it.

Funny...and so cute, but I am sure those claws can be quite painful. We met a wonderful camp kitty in Eureka, MT a few years ago. Wanted to take her with us.
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Old 06-21-11, 08:32 AM   #8
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Pea fowl (really, but not a concern).

One person we were riding with ran into a beaver (not recommended).
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Old 06-21-11, 08:43 AM   #9
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If you are lucky you will see a black bear or two. Keep your eyes down to the river along the shore. You will see lots of deer. Plenty rabbits and ground hogs.

Lots of cranes and turtles along the C&O.

Camping, raccoons and skunks will be the only real issue.
Until I saw it was Spinnacker, I thought someone was stealing my turtle pictures (I think he lives on the trail or something as much as he knows about it) - and there were a ton of turtles to be seen, and bigger than most I've seen at zoos.

Spinnacker has it nailed on the wildlife (left out the foxes though). Although it was earlier and cooler (early May) I did not even see a snake of any kind. Also never had any problems with the racoons, but they are there and will be out and about so protect your food supply.
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Old 06-21-11, 10:09 AM   #10
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I saw a bear when I was getting back on the trail from WMRT paved section when I did it a few weeks ago. I decided to keep going to the next hiker biker site a few miles down after I saw that.
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Old 06-21-11, 05:03 PM   #11
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Good luck seeing a crane on the ride. You're much more likely to see Herons: Great Blue Heron (pictured above), Green Heron and Night Heron (both yellow crowned and black crowned). If you're at the river side at dusk you can watch the "changing of the guard" as the Great Blue Herons will be flying back to their nest and the Night Heron will be waking up.
Crane, heron. One of them birds with he long skinny legs.
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Old 06-21-11, 05:12 PM   #12
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Thanks for the info...loved the picture of the turtles! I think I was most concerned with bears and wondering if I should take a bear proof device for all the smelly stuff I will be taking along. When car camping, raccoons and skunks are easy to deal with because you can just lock it all in the car. I suppose the bear proof device would be overkill for the raccoons and skunks but it certainly would work.

I am headed to Pittsburgh next Wednesday. Our original plan was to start in McKeesport. Last night I read about the new trail opening up and the difficulty of the one road leading to McKeesport. ...so I am interested in learning more. Let me confirm my itinerary and get back with questions.

We may be staying in Pittsburgh on the way back, but not confirmed yet. You know...it all depends on timing and when we leave DC that day.
I really would not worry about bears on the trail. They are rare and mostly stay clear of the trail from what I understand.

If you are driving in, I would suggest the Yough Shore Inn for the first night in Boston. You can take a room for $60 +$20 for the extra person or camp in her back yard. Either way it includes breakfast and showers.

Or you can stay at Dravo. Free camping and a really nice site but no showers and a pit toilet (in a really nice concrete structure ).

You can park here if you want. It will be 35 miles to Mckeesport through the city or 63 by way of the Montour. But it sounds like you might have a sag for the whole trip? A Wednesday arrival will make it difficult if not impossible for my tour guide services but maybe on the way back.
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Old 06-21-11, 05:14 PM   #13
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Until I saw it was Spinnacker, I thought someone was stealing my turtle pictures (I think he lives on the trail or something as much as he knows about it) - and there were a ton of turtles to be seen, and bigger than most I've seen at zoos.

Spinnacker has it nailed on the wildlife (left out the foxes though). Although it was earlier and cooler (early May) I did not even see a snake of any kind. Also never had any problems with the racoons, but they are there and will be out and about so protect your food supply.
Those pics are from the Great Falls area on the C&O. I have often described the area as like a zoo. Aside from a zoo, I don't think I have seen so many animals in the same place.
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Old 06-21-11, 08:15 PM   #14
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Thanks Everyone! I got so far as to walk into the local outfitting store in Indy driven by my fear of bears and staying up all night scaring off raccoons to purchase a bear keg. I decided against it after reading some posts and talking with the young man in the store who has ridden the CO trail a few years back. So! no bear keg for me...room for the other keg now!

I am pretty excited about this trip, thanks for all the helpful advice.
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Old 06-21-11, 08:17 PM   #15
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We are leaving our car in McKeesport or where ever we start, riding one way and then renting a car to come back. Do you have any info on good places to park in McKeesport? Is parking at the Yough Shore Inn for the week an option?
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Old 06-21-11, 09:18 PM   #16
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We are leaving our car in McKeesport or where ever we start, riding one way and then renting a car to come back. Do you have any info on good places to park in McKeesport? Is parking at the Yough Shore Inn for the week an option?

The only place I would park is at the Yough Shore Inn. There is free parking nearby at the trail head but Boston is only a short distance from Mckeesport. Not the highest crime area in the world but not exactly safe. I would not park in Mckeesport at all.

I can't remember if Lin charges guests for parking long term or not. But either way it is a small fee and worth the piece of mind. Lin lives right next door and can keep an eye on it. Not that anyone would touch it anyway.

If you decide to stay let me know and I will PM you my real name. Lin likes to know when I send people our way. If the weather is good, I will be down there on Sunday. I have been telling her she should get a bike pump. She is a really nice lady but does not know much about bicycles. I figured I would just get her one and drop it off for folks that start the trail there.
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Old 06-22-11, 01:00 PM   #17
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The only place I would park is at the Yough Shore Inn. There is free parking nearby at the trail head but Boston is only a short distance from Mckeesport. Not the highest crime area in the world but not exactly safe. I would not park in Mckeesport at all.

I can't remember if Lin charges guests for parking long term or not. But either way it is a small fee and worth the piece of mind. Lin lives right next door and can keep an eye on it. Not that anyone would touch it anyway.

If you decide to stay let me know and I will PM you my real name. Lin likes to know when I send people our way. If the weather is good, I will be down there on Sunday. I have been telling her she should get a bike pump. She is a really nice lady but does not know much about bicycles. I figured I would just get her one and drop it off for folks that start the trail there.
Great. We will park at the Yough Shore Inn and would be happy to pay a fee for safe parking. That's a nice gesture to offer the bike pump. Thanks for the input, much appreciated!
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Old 06-22-11, 04:09 PM   #18
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Great. We will park at the Yough Shore Inn and would be happy to pay a fee for safe parking. That's a nice gesture to offer the bike pump. Thanks for the input, much appreciated!
If you happen to arrive back on a Sunday afternoon / night, Boston has a pig and lamb roast. Another reason I am headed down there on Sunday.
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Old 06-23-11, 04:04 AM   #19
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I'll be on the trail starting this Saturday morning. We'll be starting at The Waterfront in Pittsburgh with Rivers Edge near Connellsville as out first destination. -- Tom
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Old 06-23-11, 05:22 AM   #20
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Be sure and call Linn before you arrive. She isn't always the easiest to get a hold of, but a really nice person. She does also have events there so parking can get limited.
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Old 06-23-11, 06:04 AM   #21
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KateE,
Spinnaker recommended that we stop and visit the Yough Shore Inn also. We did stop there, and loved it, but didn't stay. He is very knowledgable about that area, as well as helpful and friendly. If you get the chance to meet up with him, you will enjoy his company and stories of his touring experiences. My companion and I were fortunate enough to meet him and I was fortunate enough to get to see his touring photos. Excellent stuff......
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Old 06-23-11, 07:20 AM   #22
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Spinnaker - i'm too much of a noob to PM back. need 50 posts and i'm not there yet.
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Old 06-23-11, 08:02 AM   #23
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I'll be on the trail starting this Saturday morning. We'll be starting at The Waterfront in Pittsburgh with Rivers Edge near Connellsville as out first destination. -- Tom
Good luck with your ride, Tom! Hope the weather holds for you.
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Old 06-23-11, 03:03 PM   #24
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