Go Back  Bike Forums > Community Connections > Regional Discussions > Mid-Atlantic
Reload this Page >

Anyone gone down the C&O lately? (conditions inquiry)

Notices
Mid-Atlantic Pennsylvania | Maryland | DC | Delaware | West Virginia | Virginia

Anyone gone down the C&O lately? (conditions inquiry)

Old 05-16-19, 06:57 AM
  #1  
KennyT
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 12
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Anyone gone down the C&O lately? (conditions inquiry)

I'm planning a DC to Cumberland ride at the end of May and haven't been able to find out how people are getting around the Catoctin aqueduct closure. I figured since Memorial Day is coming up there should be a fair amount of traffic so was hoping to get a first hand account on the situation.
Thanks for any information you can provide about the detour and trail conditions
KennyT is offline  
Old 05-19-19, 09:39 PM
  #2  
AngeloDolce
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Delaware
Posts: 319

Bikes: Many English 3 Speeds

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 17 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
I haven't been there before, butI'm hoping to make this trip later in the summer. I'm also interested to see if you get any more information, or what route you take when you go.

The NPS website says bicyclists need to call a private shuttle service because bicyclists should not be on local roads, but none of these roads are on MD SHA list of limited access/motor vehicles only list. Is this just a case where it's outside NPS experience, or is anyone familiar with the area?
AngeloDolce is offline  
Old 05-20-19, 09:05 AM
  #3  
indyfabz
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 23,512
Mentioned: 175 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 9241 Post(s)
Liked 807 Times in 505 Posts
I believe the NPS advice is due to the fact that the workaround are extremely hilly.

BTW...Stay off railroad property.
indyfabz is offline  
Old 05-21-19, 12:01 PM
  #4  
travbikeman
Senior Member
 
travbikeman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Inwood WV, but maybe moving closer to the C&O areas
Posts: 1,268

Bikes: 2015 Specialized Crosstrail Sport Disc, Prior bikes owned: 1995 Trek 830, 1988 Schwinn Prelude

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 275 Post(s)
Liked 13 Times in 11 Posts
Actually the roads that are the go around, are incredibly tight (no room to maneuver with cars) and dangerous to bike on. The river is high right now, so walk through the creek is a no go. I agree, stay off railroad, seen too many people doing this and not realize how quiet the Amtrak and MARC trains are.

Looking forward to when the bridge is approved and we can start biking through this area.
travbikeman is offline  
Old 05-21-19, 12:27 PM
  #5  
travbikeman
Senior Member
 
travbikeman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Inwood WV, but maybe moving closer to the C&O areas
Posts: 1,268

Bikes: 2015 Specialized Crosstrail Sport Disc, Prior bikes owned: 1995 Trek 830, 1988 Schwinn Prelude

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 275 Post(s)
Liked 13 Times in 11 Posts
  • Towpath Closed. There is no detour in place at this time due to unsafe conditions on adjacent roadways. Trespassing on the CSX railroad right-of-way is both dangerous and illegal. From the west, exit the towpath at Brunswick (MP 55), or from the east at Lander Lock 29 (MP 50.9). Please contact Shepherdstown Pedal and Paddle at 304-876-3000 or River and Trail Outfitters at 301-834-9950 to arrange for a shuttle around the detour. Due to repeated flood events, attempts to install a temporary bridge have been halted. The park is working on a long-term solution.
travbikeman is offline  
Old 05-22-19, 06:48 AM
  #6  
jpescatore
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Ashton, MD USA
Posts: 509

Bikes: Trek Domane SL6 Disc, Trek 520

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 151 Post(s)
Liked 19 Times in 17 Posts
I may get a chance to hike that section this weekend, will give an update if I do. In the last 365 days, Maryland has had the most rain ever and in early May we had lots of rain - usually not a good sign. In fact, when the river stays high enough long enough to make foot crossing of Little Catoctin Creek possible usually means the Towpath in many spots will be a mud pit. But, things are starting to dry out here, with any luck it will get better.

A few comments:

I'm not recommending using the railroad tracks but every time I have checked on that section since the outage, one or more cyclists is using the tracks to get across - there is a well worn path. The visibility from the bridge in both directions is pretty good but obviously if something goes wrong it is dangerous.

I've biked the detour, the 4 or 5 mile stretch of Point of Rocks Road is not that hilly but not fun. The bridges where it goes over various creeks that I remember had room enough but it is one of the roads with a narrow "shoulder" that seems to disappear at the worst points and while the traffic is not high (haven't been on it during weekday rush hours) it is high speed. On my road bike I do that type of road almost routinely but if you are fully loaded and/or not comfortable with pickup truck rear view mirrors whizzing by your left ear, then paying for the shuttle would be worth it.
jpescatore is offline  
Old 05-22-19, 07:55 AM
  #7  
KennyT
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 12
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanks jpescatore. I'm planning on going the following weekend. So a report from this weekend would be great if you get a chance to take a look.
KennyT is offline  
Old 05-24-19, 12:43 PM
  #8  
travbikeman
Senior Member
 
travbikeman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Inwood WV, but maybe moving closer to the C&O areas
Posts: 1,268

Bikes: 2015 Specialized Crosstrail Sport Disc, Prior bikes owned: 1995 Trek 830, 1988 Schwinn Prelude

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 275 Post(s)
Liked 13 Times in 11 Posts
Free Daily Shuttle Until July 7th
travbikeman is offline  
Old 05-28-19, 04:33 AM
  #9  
jpescatore
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Ashton, MD USA
Posts: 509

Bikes: Trek Domane SL6 Disc, Trek 520

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 151 Post(s)
Liked 19 Times in 17 Posts
My friend Carl and I hike about 3 miles up stream to Little Catoctin Creek bridge outage area on Sunday.

First off, on the way there we found several blown down trees blocking the towpath - we had a wind storm come through last week and much damage. Most were smaller trees but there was one big one that we had to climb over and bikes had to do a lift and carry. Blowdowns usually get cleared pretty quickly, but the bigger ones needed a bigger chainsaw than average.

The other bad news is the outage is still an outage and there is zero sign of work - looks like they not only halted any work on a temporary structure but they remove the start of what they had put in earlier.

The good news is that the water level is low enough that it is pretty easy to walk your bike across. If you are agile, you can walk on the rocks while rolling your bike through the water (especially if the water level goes down anymore) but most likely you will get wet feet - as the two woman making the crossing with their loaded bikes in the picture below.

From a mud point of view, this section had a few muddy spots, which indicates the areas that are typically mud problems are probably kinda muddy (like around Williamsport) but on this stretch mud was not a problem.

Short version: unless we got a lot of rain soon (not forecast) the Potomac and Little Catoctin Creek are low enough that the wet crossing is very doable.



Two young women getting ready to make the crossing.


The sinkhole next to the actual outage is getting bigger.

Last edited by jpescatore; 05-28-19 at 04:38 AM.
jpescatore is offline  
Old 05-28-19, 07:57 AM
  #10  
KennyT
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 12
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Good to hear. I looked up the water levels. On Sunday Catoctin was running between 100 and 200 cfs https://waterdata.usgs.gov/md/nwis/u...60,62615,62620
And the Potomac was running around 9500 CFS https://waterdata.usgs.gov/md/nwis/u...60,62615,62620 (at Point of Rocks)
So around those levels the crossing should be good to go.

Thank you
KennyT is offline  
Old 06-04-19, 12:10 PM
  #11  
KennyT
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 12
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I crossed it on Friday and it was a very easy cross. jpescatore's pics above pretty much is what it looked like for me. I do want to point out that the NPS website was calling this Catoctin Aqueduct making me think this was the Aqueduct that crossed Catoctin Creek. This is not the case. Like some have mentioned above that this is Little Catoctin Creek bridge. Little Catoctin Creek is a very small stream. Use this link to determine if it's running high or not https://waterdata.usgs.gov/md/nwis/u...60,62615,62620 It was running around 5 cfs when I crossed it on Friday.

Another great trip up the canal. This was my first trip West. I prefer Cumberland to DC.
KennyT is offline  
Old 06-05-19, 03:35 AM
  #12  
jpescatore
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Ashton, MD USA
Posts: 509

Bikes: Trek Domane SL6 Disc, Trek 520

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 151 Post(s)
Liked 19 Times in 17 Posts
We had a big front move through this area Sunday night that dropped 3" of rain at my house. I live 40 miles east of that part of the C&O but you can see the spike in height on that gauge. Looks like it is back down and it has been dry since then. The mud level is probably up but the crossing is probably OK.
jpescatore is offline  
Old 06-06-19, 09:26 PM
  #13  
Mtroup
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 99

Bikes: Jones Plus, Tern Verge Tour

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 39 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
The deadfall area near Brunswick is cleared. The bridge washout is going to be some time being fixed, but the stream crossing is pretty easy. Wrestling a heavily loaded bike up or down the hill on the DC side is a pain in the butt, but super doable. The mud is pretty ugly between Cumberland and Hancock or so, but again, totally manageable.
Mtroup is offline  
Old 06-14-19, 08:40 PM
  #14  
travbikeman
Senior Member
 
travbikeman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Inwood WV, but maybe moving closer to the C&O areas
Posts: 1,268

Bikes: 2015 Specialized Crosstrail Sport Disc, Prior bikes owned: 1995 Trek 830, 1988 Schwinn Prelude

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 275 Post(s)
Liked 13 Times in 11 Posts
AS of today, there is now a low level bridge over this and hopefully no more flooding for a while to wash it away.
travbikeman is offline  
Old 07-01-19, 04:08 AM
  #15  
jpescatore
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Ashton, MD USA
Posts: 509

Bikes: Trek Domane SL6 Disc, Trek 520

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 151 Post(s)
Liked 19 Times in 17 Posts
6/30/19 update - new low bridge is in place, hasn't washed away yet!

We had numerous thunderstorms in the past week. The construction traffic on the tow path between Brunswick and the temporary bridge created lots of ruts which are deep puddles right now. On the downstream side, less muddy on the way to the Catoctin aqueduct but more mud puddles that typical - lots of riders were skunk striped on their backs and looked a bit shell-shocked!
jpescatore is offline  
Old 07-03-19, 08:19 AM
  #16  
travbikeman
Senior Member
 
travbikeman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Inwood WV, but maybe moving closer to the C&O areas
Posts: 1,268

Bikes: 2015 Specialized Crosstrail Sport Disc, Prior bikes owned: 1995 Trek 830, 1988 Schwinn Prelude

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 275 Post(s)
Liked 13 Times in 11 Posts
Originally Posted by jpescatore View Post
6/30/19 update - new low bridge is in place, hasn't washed away yet!

We had numerous thunderstorms in the past week. The construction traffic on the tow path between Brunswick and the temporary bridge created lots of ruts which are deep puddles right now. On the downstream side, less muddy on the way to the Catoctin aqueduct but more mud puddles that typical - lots of riders were skunk striped on their backs and looked a bit shell-shocked!
I noticed this too a week ago when riding through this area. It seems like a mess for a few miles. Also wanted to give a heads up, there was a Momma bear and cubs spotted in the Brunswick MD area.
travbikeman is offline  
Old 10-10-19, 06:44 PM
  #17  
csport
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: New York, NY, USA
Posts: 312

Bikes: Double Cross Disc (2017)

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 91 Post(s)
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
I will ask in this thread instead of starting a new one: I checked the data for the last few days on weather.com, and there was about 1.5" of rainfall in the last 2-3 days in towns along the trail (Harpers Ferry, Hancock, Paw Paw). Assuming there is no more rain, will it be dry enough (does not need to be perfect) if I start Saturday or Sunday (12th or 13th) morning from DC? Most of the mentioned rain fell on Monday, October 7.
csport is offline  
Old 10-10-19, 08:01 PM
  #18  
Marylander
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: Frederick County, MD
Posts: 12
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
I don't know about other locations but harpers ferry is fine. Starting 6 miles south of harpers ferry (at brunswick, md) and extending past it for a few miles is a new trail surface that is nicer than the rest of the tow path. It is not negatively impacted by rain. It had been about the worst section up until the new surface and would have miles of puddles from all the rain in 2017/18.

I run there most days of the week.
Marylander is offline  
Old 10-11-19, 06:57 AM
  #19  
jpescatore
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Ashton, MD USA
Posts: 509

Bikes: Trek Domane SL6 Disc, Trek 520

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 151 Post(s)
Liked 19 Times in 17 Posts
Yesterday I sneaked (snuck?) in a lunchtime ride on the Towpath from Carderock to Seneca Creek and back. Dry as a bone but there are a lot of spots where they repaired washouts earlier in the year and much loose grave,l and there are a few sites with active construction going on - nothing that is a major problem, though.

You might hit a few mud spots further upstream but we have been so dry for so long that you should be in good shape.
jpescatore is offline  
Old 10-13-19, 06:09 AM
  #20  
csport
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: New York, NY, USA
Posts: 312

Bikes: Double Cross Disc (2017)

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 91 Post(s)
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Thank you Marylander and jpescatore!
C&O mile 0
Starting now.
csport is offline  
Old 10-15-19, 04:02 AM
  #21  
jpescatore
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Ashton, MD USA
Posts: 509

Bikes: Trek Domane SL6 Disc, Trek 520

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 151 Post(s)
Liked 19 Times in 17 Posts
You probably haven't even needed those fenders, yet - but they might come in handy tomorrow!
jpescatore is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Thread Starter
Forum
Replies
Last Post
KennyT
Touring
10
05-28-19 04:57 AM
akinsgre
Southeast
7
04-10-17 09:17 AM
TimothyH
Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational)
2
01-25-16 08:31 AM
lennon_68
Great Lakes
18
08-14-11 03:41 PM
WillJL
Pacific Northwest
10
07-02-10 11:37 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.