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  1. #1
    babylon by bike Standalone's Avatar
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    How is the camping and ride - C&O Canal Path N. of Harpers Ferry?

    My wife and my 6 and 4 year old boys are going to take an overnight on the C&O trail. Looks like there are two or three campsites in the first 20 miles (mile 60-80 is where we'll be)



    Our rig is going to be xtracycle+topeak kid seat+front panniers and a 7 speed cruiser tandem with my wife and our elder son + front basket, rear rack, and a rack top bag w/integrated fold out mini panniers. If we can't get everything loaded on those bikes, we'll pull a trailer as well.

    Map: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi..._%28map%29.jpg

    Anyone done this section? Any advice?
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  2. #2
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Personally I would not recommend the trail for little ones. If you are going to do it then keep your mileage short and give yourself plenty of time. The trail can be very rough at times.

    Camping is going to depend on the weather. There are lots of beautiful sites and all free. But if it rains I doubt you will want to camp as well as the kids. The mosquitoes can be horrendous if it had been raining. I couldn't stand to stop for 5 minutes or so. I couldn't imagine camping in that.
    "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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  3. #3
    Senior Member alan s's Avatar
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    http://bikewashington.org is a great resource.

  4. #4
    Neil_B
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    I agree with keeping the mileage short. Bring bug spray and earplugs. Do not let the kids wander into the river. I thought the actual towpath surface OK in that area - yes, it's rough, but it's more stone than dirt.

  5. #5
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    you'll find good information -- campsites, lodging, food and ice cream -- on the c&o canal on the website

    http://bicycletouringoncarfreepaths.org/

    it's a great trip -- so's the great allegheny, also on that website.

  6. #6
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil_B View Post
    I agree with keeping the mileage short. Bring bug spray and earplugs. Do not let the kids wander into the river. I thought the actual towpath surface OK in that area - yes, it's rough, but it's more stone than dirt.
    Ah yes excellent thought on the river warning. The water can be surprisingly swift.

    Neil is a better judge than me on a specific section. I just seem to remember it as being one long bumpy mud puddle.
    "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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  7. #7
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    Ah yes excellent thought on the river warning. The water can be surprisingly swift.

    Neil is a better judge than me on a specific section. I just seem to remember it as being one long bumpy mud puddle.
    Someone drowned on the Potomac during our 2009 trip, Spinnaker. The body was recovered just north of Harpers Ferry, IIRC.

  8. #8
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    Belay that!

    Lot's of doom and gloom on this thread! I say go for it! Only you know what your kids are up for so I'll leave that to you. From personal experience:

    1. Check the bikewashington site. If it says the campground is subject to train noise and lots of loud trains all night long are going to bother your family, pick a different camp site.

    2. Bring bug spray

    3. Be prepared to modify your expectations if it rains. The mud will slow you down and mess you up. I took some teenagers on an overnight on the towpath earlier in the season. We had every intention of postponing or canceling the trip if the forcast called for rain. It's not that we could not survive the mud, it would just would have killed the fun.

    4. I was there just after the peak rains. The river was fast. We stopped to swim several times a day and loved it. That said, if you don't know water safety, stay out of the water.

    5. No two-wheel trailers. I've not done this myself but can see why others say not to - it's double tire ruts with grass in the middle.

  9. #9
    Slow Rider bwgride's Avatar
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    Was there a few weeks ago. The campsites are usually adjacent the river, each has a portable toilet, and the drinking water must be pumped. Unfortunately all the water we pumped throughout the C&O tasted awful -- iron-like. Trail was in good shape. We were surprised at how easy it was to ride. Antietam could be a interesting detour and Sharpsburg is an interesting town with period buildings.

  10. #10
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    Have ridden the C & O/GAP a number of times. My wife and I have ridden it on a fully loaded tandem with no problems. There are campsites every 5 miles (first come/first served), some better than others, but as mentioned above they all have a fire ring, portable toilet, picnic table and pump. There is a small charge for any sites that can be reached by car. Plenty of wood around for fires. During the summer some are overrun by scouts, but they are usually empty in the sping/fall. I agree with the water comment, but civilization is rarely more than a few miles away. Not hard to bail if things don't go well.

  11. #11
    Senior Member GoGranny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeff51 View Post
    you'll find good information -- campsites, lodging, food and ice cream -- on the c&o canal on the website

    http://bicycletouringoncarfreepaths.org/

    it's a great trip -- so's the great allegheny, also on that website.
    Thank you SO much for this wonderful lijk!
    What if the hokey pokey really is what it's all about?

  12. #12
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    Definitely, no two-wheeled trailers! A few years back we did a short tour with our tandem pulling our Burley trailer with our son in it... very hard going due to the double-track nature of the C&O.

    Bring powdered drink mix to make the water from the campsite pumps taste a bit more palatable. Also, fill up on potable water at any and every opportunity so you don't have to rely on the campsite pumps.

    Friends of mine have ridden the C&O and the GAP with a tandem pulling a trail-a-bike pulling a Burley two-seater trailer (for camping gear). I think they were nuts, but they made it.

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