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C&O Towpath to National Mall

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C&O Towpath to National Mall

Old 08-26-10, 09:04 PM
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C&O Towpath to National Mall

Next month I plan to lead several boy scouts on a 50 mile ride. We plan to ride mostly on the C&O Canal towpath, but I would like to get them to the National Mall area.

What would be the safest path to get from the C&O mile 0 to the National Mall?

Thanks.
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Old 08-27-10, 06:43 AM
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It has been a few years since I was last down there, however checking Google maps, I see the extension of the Rock Creek Parkway trail runs from the Thompson Boat Center (location of the actual MP 0) along the river to Ohio Drive and the Mall area. https://goo.gl/maps/fpRV If you zoom in on the overhead photo, you can see where the canal enters the river on the southeast side of the Boat Center. I think the MP 0 marker is on the little spit of land on the east side of the canal, accessible via a footbridge.

The apparent end of the canal at the large sign in Georgetown is at Rock Creek Parkway over by the Four Seasons hotel.

If you have not checked already, there are several pages of C&O Towpath information at bikewashington.org I hope you are aware that the councils along the C&O offer a patch and medallion for completing any section of the towpath with segments from each council (haven't found the web page with all the info to apply, however).

I've done C&O twice with scouts, and it was a lot of fun. Ironically, it was the out-of-town group from the Boston area on my second trip who figured out how to get to MP 0. Go figure. Have a great trip.
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Old 08-27-10, 07:07 AM
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Couple of good routes.

Quick way - Tow path ends at a T at the Rock Creek Trail. Go right. At the parking lot for Thompson's Boat House, cross at the light and take Virginia Avenue past the Watergate and straight to the Washington Monument. One block is one-way the wrong way, so you'll need to detour or take the sidewalk. Traffic on weekends is very light.

edit - there is road construction at the Foundry. Go around the fences and the brick path continues on the other side.
edit- on second thought, here's a map that gets you most of the C&O, avoids carrying bikes over the canal, takes you to the 0 mile post, and covers the river trail to the LM
https://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=3993366

More scenic - At the T, go right and take the river trail past the Kennedy Center. After the trail has the odd jog to the right, cross the road (going straight along the river goes to a nasty road crossing behind the Lincoln Memorial), past the volley ball courts and the water steps behind the LM. Takes you to Independence Ave on the south side of the LM. Then you can go to the Lincoln Memorial and ride the full length of the Mall.

Alternate scenic - Just as you cross into Georgetown under the stone arch of the Key Bridge, take the footbridge over the canal. You can go up to M Street and go left to the Key Bridge (walking on the sidewalk), although I usually go left through the alleys to avoid the traffic and sidewalks. Cross Key Bridge and go left onto the access for the Mount Vernon Trail (no sign for it, but it is at the second road crossing after the bridge) Take the MVT south to the Memorial Bridge (trail on the right after passing under the bridge) and cross to the LM from National Cemetery. Great view on the approach.

An alternate to the last 3 miles of the C&O is to switch to the Capital Crescent Trail at Fletcher's Cove. Takes you into Georgetown on Water / K Street, under the highway. Take the Washington Harbor boardwalk to Thompson's (past the Swedish Embassy). Cross the bridge on the left to get to the parking lot and follow the directions above. hint - If you continue along the river to the other side of Thompson's boathouse, there is a little island that has the 0 milepost of the C&O, as well as the original water gate the hotel is named for (just a wood ruin).

Have fun.

Last edited by cc_rider; 08-27-10 at 10:46 AM.
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Old 08-27-10, 10:30 AM
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Thanks. Excellent help. I really appreciate it!!
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