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Swim Hole recommendations along C&O and GAP

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Swim Hole recommendations along C&O and GAP

Old 02-27-18, 08:17 AM
  #1  
PedalingWalrus
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Swim Hole recommendations along C&O and GAP

Now that our C&O/GAP trail trip is coming near (late May) , I was wondering if anyone knows what are the recommendations for stopping and taking a dip along the way ?
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Old 02-27-18, 08:45 AM
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Most everything you need to know about the GAP is here https://gaptrail.org and the C&O is here The C&O Canal Bicycling Guide - Welcome!. You can swim in the Potomac River, but I prefer not to.
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Old 02-27-18, 09:05 AM
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I don't see anything about swimming in the links you provided

Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Most everything you need to know about the GAP is here https://gaptrail.org and the C&O is here The C&O Canal Bicycling Guide - Welcome!. You can swim in the Potomac River, but I prefer not to.
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Old 02-27-18, 09:10 AM
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This post is somewhat helpful
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Old 02-27-18, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
I don't see anything about swimming in the links you provided
Youíre riding along two rivers for a good portion of the trip. If itís safe, swim. If not, donít. There are no lifeguards.
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Old 02-27-18, 09:53 AM
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There are natural water slides in Meadown Run at Ohiopyle S.P. They are not too far south of town on PA 281. You can see the location on Google Maps. Looks to be maybe a half mile or so. When the trail crosses the Yough itself you can get right down to the river easily. Can't remember if there were signs prohibiting swimming, but it's worth checking out.

Photo is from town. The bridge is part of the GAP.
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Old 02-27-18, 10:03 AM
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I would try to avoid rapids unless you are on a tube or in a raft or kayak, but otherwise, go for it. Water flow can vary making an area safe one day and dangerous the next. Use your judgment.
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Old 02-27-18, 10:07 AM
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Thank You. Much appreciated. I like to hear from someone who's been there and has specific recommendations.


Alan -
Of course I'm aware of my judgement when it seems ok to swim I'll swim and when it looks dangerous I won't swim ... that goes without saying...


Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
There are natural water slides in Meadown Run at Ohiopyle S.P. They are not too far south of town on PA 281. You can see the location on Google Maps. Looks to be maybe a half mile or so. When the trail crosses the Yough itself you can get right down to the river easily. Can't remember if there were signs prohibiting swimming, but it's worth checking out.

Photo is from town. The bridge is part of the GAP.
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Old 02-27-18, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
Thank You. Much appreciated. I like to hear from someone who's been there and has specific recommendations.


Alan -
Of course I'm aware of my judgement when it seems ok to swim I'll swim and when it looks dangerous I won't swim ... that goes without saying...
I’ve ridden multiple times along the route. There are no specific swimming holes I am aware of. They are rivers that have dangerous flow, especially after storms, and are like a lake other times. Sorry I can’t give you the answer you are looking for. There are falls, rapids and dams and other obstructions that should be avoided.
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Old 02-27-18, 12:55 PM
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Depends. . .

I've ridden the entire GAP/C&O 6 times and haven't taken a dip, despite looking, casually, for swimming holes. Others I've seen going off trail to swim seemed to be dealing with rugged,steep bushwacks, and I ride and camp solo and haven't wanted to risk injury. I will say there is a public swimming pool in easy eyesight to the right of the trail if headed from Pittsburgh to DC, in the town of Buena Vista. I have considered offering the staff at the pool a little monetary donation for a shower and a dip in what appears to be a very nice community pool.
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Old 02-28-18, 07:12 AM
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The Outflow Camping Area in Confluence is right along the Yough. The web site doesn't mention swimming, but you might want to check it out.

As noted above, you are not always right along water. Getting to a bank may require bushwhacking.
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Old 02-28-18, 07:15 AM
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I was kind of thinking that if I were camping where showers were not available I could then find some river spot during my next day bike ride for a quick cleansing dip... :-) It is similar to what I sometimes do on multiday hiking trips.

Originally Posted by motorapido View Post
I've ridden the entire GAP/C&O 6 times and haven't taken a dip, despite looking, casually, for swimming holes. Others I've seen going off trail to swim seemed to be dealing with rugged,steep bushwacks, and I ride and camp solo and haven't wanted to risk injury. I will say there is a public swimming pool in easy eyesight to the right of the trail if headed from Pittsburgh to DC, in the town of Buena Vista. I have considered offering the staff at the pool a little monetary donation for a shower and a dip in what appears to be a very nice community pool.
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Old 02-28-18, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
I was kind of thinking that if I were camping where showers were not available I could then find some river spot during my next day bike ride for a quick cleansing dip... :-) It is similar to what I sometimes do on multiday hiking trips.
All of the primitive hiker biker sites on the C&O have water available. I use a water bottle to provide water pressure to clean me and my bike. There are towns along the way that provide opportunities to clean up a bit.
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Old 02-28-18, 09:08 AM
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As an aside, Husky Haven campground along the GAP in Rockwood has very nice showers available at their office across the river in Rockwood town.

The train noise, though... I don't know how anyone sleeps in that town (multiple at-grade crossings there mean the trains blow their horns all night long).
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Old 02-28-18, 01:02 PM
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I have swam in the Potomac River a bunch though not usually on tour. I guess if I am really nasty then maybe a dip would be good but I don't like bathing in semi-dirty water without being able to easily shower off afterwards. As people have said avoid rapids and I will say it again because I went swimming with friends and got caught up and luckily survived but came very close to being injured. I am the type of person to like Triathlons if it weren't for the running and swimming! Biking I am decent at but swimming is not my strong suit and running just isn't my thing anymore.
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Old 02-28-18, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
I would try to avoid rapids unless you are on a tube or in a raft or kayak, but otherwise, go for it. Water flow can vary making an area safe one day and dangerous the next. Use your judgment.
I live relatively near there. There is a section there where we would swim and be carried by the water, sort of shooting the rapids with just your body. Very popular pastime there.
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Old 02-28-18, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Philly Tandem View Post
As an aside, Husky Haven campground along the GAP in Rockwood has very nice showers available at their office across the river in Rockwood town.

The train noise, though... I don't know how anyone sleeps in that town (multiple at-grade crossings there mean the trains blow their horns all night long). https://youtu.be/R8La6OVTK1k
Great place to camp, and the office is great with the showers and a place to clean bikes. Oh, and the Rockwood Mill Shoppes and Opera House is a cool place. There is a pizza shop there as well as shops. It was an old vaudeville stop. They have entertainment there in the Opera House some nights so it is a place to check out if you are there. I had the pleasure of performing there one night not long after they opened.

I camped there and I will attest to the trains. Thankfully I always have ear plugs, and was sufficiently tired enough from riding to sleep well. Cool little town.
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Old 02-28-18, 05:26 PM
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For information on swimming holes, your best bet is to ask locals in the towns you pass, there are places people swim, but you probably won't get info on them here. Locals have been swimming in some places on the rivers for a long time, but unless you live there you won't know where to go. There is a place outside of Connelsville, I know of it since some locals were riding to it when I passed through. They asked if I wanted to join them, but I was planning on getting to Ohio Pyle that night.
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Old 02-28-18, 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
I was kind of thinking that if I were camping where showers were not available I could then find some river spot during my next day bike ride for a quick cleansing dip... :-) It is similar to what I sometimes do on multiday hiking trips.
KOA in Conneslsville has a very nice camping spot right next to the river. Great place to take a dip and great showers.

But you could camp in the free shelters in Conneslsville then take a walk down to the river. But kind of public down there.

Just below the dam in Confluence is a nice private spot but again it is paid camping with showers. I don't know of any free camping in Confluence and the river there has a lot of public view.

Don't go swimming in the canals along the C&O. The Potomac is pretty wild much of the way. Not sure you would want to go swimming.

Look me up at the Pittsburgh end if you want help, a tour, place to stay etc.

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Old 02-28-18, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by phughes View Post
For information on swimming holes, your best bet is to ask locals in the towns you pass, there are places people swim, but you probably won't get info on them here. Locals have been swimming in some places on the rivers for a long time, but unless you live there you won't know where to go. There is a place outside of Connelsville, I know of it since some locals were riding to it when I passed through. They asked if I wanted to join them, but I was planning on getting to Ohio Pyle that night.
You DO NOT want to camp in Ohio Pyle. The campsite is straight up a very rocky trail. After that climb you need to make another to the office. Stop in Connellsville or push on to Confluence.

You have been warned.
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Old 02-28-18, 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Philly Tandem View Post
As an aside, Husky Haven campground along the GAP in Rockwood has very nice showers available at their office across the river in Rockwood town.

The train noise, though... I don't know how anyone sleeps in that town (multiple at-grade crossings there mean the trains blow their horns all night long). https://youtu.be/R8La6OVTK1k

I would opt for the hostel in town over the campground. Husky Haven also has a guest house but I have never stayed there.
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Old 02-28-18, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
You DO NOT want to camp in Ohio Pyle. The campsite is straight up a very rocky trail. After that climb you need to make another to the office. Stop in Connellsville or push on to Confluence.

You have been warned.
Well, as I visit Ohio Pyle often, since I don't live far from there, I did camp there. Yes, you have to lug you bike and gear up a very rough steep trail. The campground is nice though. You can access it by road, but it takes you out of the way.
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Old 03-01-18, 04:24 AM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
You DO NOT want to camp in Ohio Pyle. The campsite is straight up a very rocky trail. After that climb you need to make another to the office.
You have been warned.
I went to Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling water and then to Kentuck Knob, very hard climb from Ohiopyle to the turnoff on top of the hill where I noticed a sign pointing to the campground. I thought, you got to be kidding, walking up that track would of been hell.
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Old 03-01-18, 06:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Philly Tandem View Post
The train noise, though... I don't know how anyone sleeps in that town (multiple at-grade crossings there mean the trains blow their horns all night long).
Heh. The vid I shot back in 2012. It's Amtrak's Capitol Limited. Activity died down at night. Got up at 6 a.m. By 6:45 three had come through.

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Old 03-01-18, 06:43 AM
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Thank You for the offer. Our train arrives around midnight so we'll be late arriving...I would want to intrude like that. As it stands we are supposed to crash in a room that one of the couples we are riding with booked somewhere close to the train station. We'll be on our way in the morning. If we planned to stay in Pittsburgh for a day I would love to connect and check out some of the city trails. I've been to Pittsburgh twice now and I love the city.


Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
KOA in Conneslsville has a very nice camping spot right next to the river. Great place to take a dip and great showers.

But you could camp in the free shelters in Conneslsville then take a walk down to the river. But kind of public down there.

Just below the dam in Confluence is a nice private spot but again it is paid camping with showers. I don't know of any free camping in Confluence and the river there has a lot of public view.

Don't go swimming in the canals along the C&O. The Potomac is pretty wild much of the way. Not sure you would want to go swimming.

Look me up at the Pittsburgh end if you want help, a tour, place to stay etc.
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