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Old 12-24-13, 10:34 AM   #1
Walter S
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Roughing out a route from Cleveland, OH to Washington DC

I'll be visiting Leesburg, VA for a week or so in June 2014 and I'm looking to combine that with a good bicycle ride thru the area close by. I'd like to plan for endpoints that are at Amtrak stations. I leave from Atlanta GA. I'm considering taking Amtrak from Atlanta to Cleveland. Then bicycle down the towpath trail to around Dover, ride over to Pittsburg and get on the Great Allegheny trail where I'll ride down the Leesburg and visit family for a few days. Then I'll continue down the same trail to Washington where I'll get on the train and ride home.

Who knows about the quality of these trails? I'll have a loaded Surly disc trucker. I'd like to plan on not riding with knobbies. Is it real packed down gravel where that's expected to be OK?

I'll be mostly camping along the way. Probably trying to stealth camp some, but I'll stay in an occasional motel and gladly stay at established campgrounds should they be convenient.

The train gets into Cleveland at 3 a.m. I'm pondering the best strategy for starting the trip like that. I might want to kill some time and then go check into a motel, spend the night there, leave the following morning on the bicycle. Hotels are expensive around there. I see some hostel opportunities and want to hear from anybody with some first hand experience there.

This is the route I've got roughed out. https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid...5caae7ce&msa=0

I can extend it by a couple hundred miles and still fit into the calendar timeframe I'm planning on. So if anybody knows this area and sees how to improve the route I'd be glad to hear from you. I love natural beauty.

Thanks for any suggestions.
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Old 12-24-13, 10:55 AM   #2
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3AM to 6AM is a good time to be getting out of Cleveland.........................
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Old 12-24-13, 11:43 AM   #3
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Aren't there a lot of campsites on the trails between Pittsburgh an DC? If so no need to stealth camp.
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Old 12-24-13, 12:11 PM   #4
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The GAP will get you to Cumberland, and then you have to hop on the C&O. You can take Whites Ferry across the river to get to Leesburg, and the W&OD from there to DC. No need for knobbies, but fenders are nice for the mud if it rains.
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Old 12-24-13, 02:53 PM   #5
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The GAP is only from PGH to Cumberland. The C&O is from Cumberland to D.C. No need to stealth camp on either one as there are sufficient, established camping options. There are also some B&Bs and guest houses along the GAP. Look at the official site for a list. I stayed at the camping area with Adirondack Shelters in Connellsville (free with grocery store 300' away) and at Husky Haven Campground in Rockwood ($10). Nice place with right along the trail with free fire wood and tons of shade, but bring ear plugs:


There is a companion guest house across the river in town. Camping fee includes use of showers and Internet at the guest house. The grocery selection at the Dollar Store in town is weak, but there are a couple of places to get prepared food. I would avoid the commercial campground above Connellsville. It looked like combat camping at its finest. When I rode by there was loud music playing at the pool area.

Stopped to patronize this place. They had old skool Mountain Dew made with real sugar.



Haven't done the C&O, but many people say it can be extremely sloppy after extended periods of rain. Did the GAP on 32c Conti IIs. No problem.
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Old 12-24-13, 03:18 PM   #6
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The Cleveland Hostel s great! We have stayed there 2x's and it ias about $25 per night. Good places to eat and they have a great kitchen for preparing your own meals.. It is about 2 1/2 miles from the Amtrak Station. We stayed there in October and left in the early hours to take the train to Albany and then rode back home to NE Ohio.
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Old 12-24-13, 03:21 PM   #7
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I have also ridden the GAP & C&O a few times the most recent was last month.
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Old 12-24-13, 07:31 PM   #8
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The condition of the GAP is in excellent condition. Packed limestone pretty much the whole way. The C&O not as good. Lots of ruts and exposed roots. Plenty of mud if it is raining. The Western Maryland Rail Trail, all paved, parallels it for a short bit but is a welcome relief if it is raining.

The bike you have chosen is just fine. No need for knobbies. Fenders are a mixed blessing. The mud on the C&O can be so bad it gets stuck up inside the fender. But I have seem folks who chose not to have fenders and I would go with fenders again.

Instead of the free shelter in Connellsville. I would suggest Rivers Edge. Very nice facilities. Instead of Husky Haven in Rockwood, I would suggest the hostel in town for another $10 or so,

Do not try to camp in Ohiopyle. The trail to the campsite is VERY steep and VERY rocky.

I have not done the Ohio and Erie canal trail out of Cleveland yet. But it can be ridden in about a day or so, it is really not that long. Once you get to the end you are pretty much on the road till the PA state border. From Weirton, WV, you can take the Panhandle Trail to the Montour Trail that will connect you to the GAP. But that will bypass Pittsburgh. Much of the Montour is very pretty in its own right. I happen to think much of it rivals the GAP but Pittsburgh should be seen too if you have never been. We have the 3 rivers, the inclines, Mexican War street homes, lots of other great architecture and he have one of the largest bicycle museums in the country here. So it is really a toss up of what way to go.

No offense to Tom or the other Ohio residents but if you need to shorten the trip, I would start in Pittsburgh. Though Ohio does have several neat little towns that would be nice to see.

PM me if you need a place to stay and / or want a tour guide once you hit Pittsburgh.

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Old 12-24-13, 07:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ironwood View Post
Aren't there a lot of campsites on the trails between Pittsburgh an DC? If so no need to stealth camp.
Yes PLENTY of designated campsites along the GAP and C&O. Stealth camping along the trail is against the rules BTW.
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Old 12-24-13, 07:53 PM   #10
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Listen to Spinnaker he will not steer you wrong! He has helped me with routing throught Pittsburgh on more than one occasion.
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Old 12-25-13, 05:31 AM   #11
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Many thanks to all for the valuable tips!
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Old 12-25-13, 07:31 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Tandem Tom View Post
The Cleveland Hostel s great! We have stayed there 2x's and it ias about $25 per night. Good places to eat and they have a great kitchen for preparing your own meals.. It is about 2 1/2 miles from the Amtrak Station. We stayed there in October and left in the early hours to take the train to Albany and then rode back home to NE Ohio.
What's it like to find a secure place for the bicycle & gear?
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Old 12-25-13, 07:58 AM   #13
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You can bring your bike inside and park it in the back hall. We have done it twice, once with our tandem and once with our LHT's. We just lock them and have even left the front panniers on.
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