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GAP/C&O Tour

Old 02-18-20, 10:00 PM
  #51  
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Originally Posted by willwebb View Post
I’m planning to ride from Pittsburgh to Washington DC on the Great Allegheny Passage (gaptrail.org) and C&O Canal (bikewashington.org/canal/). I plan to ride it over 5 days beginning in late June.
​​​​​​
Inquiring minds want to know...did you do the ride and which plan did you end up following? Would you change anything? I'm thinking I'll need 6 days (but wishing for 5) and plan to mix and match the days you have below. I'm contemplating doing Meyersdale to Hancock on Day 3. The important reason for me to stick to a schedule is that I'm going to be doing a credit card tour and I want to book the places ahead of time.

The planned stops are:

Day 1: Pittsburgh to Connellsville (58 miles)
Day 2: Connellsville to Meyersdale (59 miles)
Day 3: Meyersdale to Little Orleans (75 miles)
Day 4: Little Orleans to Shepherdstown (68 miles)
Day 5: Shepherdstown to Washington (74 miles)

Day 1: Pittsburgh to Connellsville (63miles)

Day 2: Connellsville to Frostburg (72 miles)
Day 3: Frostburg to Little Orleans (59 miles)
Day 4: Little Orleans to Williamsport (42 miles)
Day 5: Williamsport to Harpers Ferry (40 miles)
Day 6: Harpers Ferry to Washington (59 miles)

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Old 02-18-20, 10:25 PM
  #52  
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Originally Posted by pennpaul View Post
Day 5: Williamsport to Harpers Ferry (40 miles)
Day 6: Harpers Ferry to Washington (59 miles)
Unless they start running shuttles to make up for the bridge walkway destroyed by the derailing train, that version is out - you can't get from the C&O to Harper's Ferry currently.

You could consider Brunswick but it moves six miles to your second-to-last day. Depending on what happens after mile 0 that might or might not be good.

Yet to do this, but been pouring over maps...
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Old 02-18-20, 10:39 PM
  #53  
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Cruised the GAP C&O back in June 2017. I can’t wait to ride those trails again. AWESOME.
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Old 02-19-20, 05:46 AM
  #54  
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I've done the C&O in 3 days (Cumberland to Hancock, Harpers Ferry, start), easy trip. Some one else has already pointed on the problem at Harpers Ferry right now. Also, at one point Bills Place in Little Orleans had shut down - that was about the only food choice, the Little Orleans lodge was the only lodging choice I remember.

Hancock has many more food/lodging choices, about 16 miles further - if you aren't a purist about the Towpath, you can do it all on the paved Western Maryland Rail Trail now. The WMRR was shorter when my wife and I did the 3 day trip, but we took advantage of it then and I'd do the same now.

If you did the GAP to Cumberland in 2 days (I've done each half in one day, very doable) you could do Day 3 to Hancock, Day 4 to Brunswick, Day 5 to start. I've never stayed at it but there is a Travelodge I ride by when I do loops near Brunswick that is about a 1.5 mile uphilll slog from the Towpath.

The caveat is how much rain on the Towpath within a week or two before your trip. There has been an awesome amount of resurfacing that has greatly improved many but not all of the usual mud bogs but the resurfacing will continue and it is like riding in oatmeal when that stuff is still fresh - the muddy spots are dry, then you hit the oatmeal! Worth checking the National Park sites when the deadline for cancelling/changing any reservations nears.

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Old 02-19-20, 06:30 AM
  #55  
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
Unless they start running shuttles to make up for the bridge walkway destroyed by the derailing train, that version is out - you can't get from the C&O to Harper's Ferry currently.

You could consider Brunswick but it moves six miles to your second-to-last day. Depending on what happens after mile 0 that might or might not be good.

Yet to do this, but been pouring over maps...
Yes, that's been in the back of my mind. If at all possible I want to minimize detours so I've got some more research to do.

Originally Posted by jpescatore View Post
...at one point Bills Place in Little Orleans had shut down - that was about the only food choice, the Little Orleans lodge was the only lodging choice I remember.

Hancock has many more food/lodging choices, about 16 miles further - if you aren't a purist about the Towpath, you can do it all on the paved Western Maryland Rail Trail now. The WMRR was shorter when my wife and I did the 3 day trip, but we took advantage of it then and I'd do the same now.

If you did the GAP to Cumberland in 2 days (I've done each half in one day, very doable) you could do Day 3 to Hancock, Day 4 to Brunswick, Day 5 to start. I've never stayed at it but there is a Travelodge I ride by when I do loops near Brunswick that is about a 1.5 mile uphilll slog from the Towpath.
Good info. I think it's looking more like 6 days instead of 5. We won't get an early enough start on Day 1 to make Cumberland in 2 days, and like I told my friend, I don't want to remember this trip as Sufferfest 2020.

I am not an absolute purist. I saw the WMRR mentioned in another thread and I've already added that to my route. Near DC I'll be jumping onto the Capital Crescent at the very end for some smooth pavement. We're also leaving open the option of taking White's Ferry over to Leesburg and then riding the W&OD back depending on how we feel on that last day. We both live in VA (I'm in Arlington and he's in Vienna) so if we do the whole C&O, that's some extra mileage at the end to get home unless we take Metro.
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Old 02-19-20, 07:06 AM
  #56  
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If you are really not a purist, from Brunswick you can go over the bridge and have a couple of choices of roads up to Purcellville or Paenonian Springs and the WO&D all the way back.Its been a number of years since I biked that, or did Rt. 15 up to Leesburg from Whites Ferry, but the the ride up from Brunswick was much more fun than Rt. 15 - from driving 15 in recent years, it looks a lot better now.
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Old 02-19-20, 08:37 AM
  #57  
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Originally Posted by pennpaul View Post
​​​​​​
Day 2: Connellsville to Frostburg (72 miles)
Planning on staying at the place by the train station part way up the hill? The owner is an interesting fellow. The Mexican food on the main drag at the top of the hill isn't bad.
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Old 02-19-20, 09:25 AM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Planning on staying at the place by the train station part way up the hill? The owner is an interesting fellow. The Mexican food on the main drag at the top of the hill isn't bad.
I think you are referring to the Trail Inn. I stayed there last spring and had the hostel to myself. The owner? Yeah, a bit sketchy. Get the sense he enjoys a drink now and then. You can camp on the property, and use the showers, or pay a bit more for a shared room. Also has regular rooms.
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Old 02-19-20, 09:54 AM
  #59  
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
I think you are referring to the Trail Inn. I stayed there last spring and had the hostel to myself. The owner? Yeah, a bit sketchy. Get the sense he enjoys a drink now and then. You can camp on the property, and use the showers, or pay a bit more for a shared room. Also has regular rooms.
Understatement of the month.

Did you go up to the camping area? I have. I would swear the walkway is at a 45 degree angle. I nearly had a heart attack trying to push my loaded bike up there. The next morning I rolled the bike down without the bags and had a hell of a time controlling it. Had to go back up and carry the bags down separately. Should have ponied up the extra cash for a bed. Though the nice thing is that there is a dirt road from the camping area that takes you up to the main drag.

There was a group of three guys staying in the shared room. Overall, the place was decent, and he did offer to turn off the classic rock being piped through the outdoor speakers.
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Old 02-19-20, 03:26 PM
  #60  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Understatement of the month.

Did you go up to the camping area? I have. I would swear the walkway is at a 45 degree angle. I nearly had a heart attack trying to push my loaded bike up there. The next morning I rolled the bike down without the bags and had a hell of a time controlling it. Had to go back up and carry the bags down separately. Should have ponied up the extra cash for a bed. Though the nice thing is that there is a dirt road from the camping area that takes you up to the main drag.

There was a group of three guys staying in the shared room. Overall, the place was decent, and he did offer to turn off the classic rock being piped through the outdoor speakers.
The original plan was to camp, but it was raining and the hostel was empty with no one expected to arrive later. So it was an easy decision to stay in a warm, dry bed. I saw those stairs. Wouldn’t want to try it when wet.
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Old 02-19-20, 03:44 PM
  #61  
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Wouldn’t want to try it when wet.
You wouldn't. Ask me how I know.
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Old 02-19-20, 03:58 PM
  #62  
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If there is a next time, maybe access from the town side? Hella climb into town, but probably safer. Also, a couple other good places to eat are the famous Princess diner and LG’s Pizzera.
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Old 02-20-20, 06:51 AM
  #63  
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
If there is a next time, maybe access from the town side? Hella climb into town, but probably safer.
I would likely stop at the office, register and pay, leave the panniers inside then ride up the rest of the way with my tent and take the back way to the camping area. Walk down, shower and walk back up with my panniers.
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Old 02-21-20, 08:46 AM
  #64  
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My daughter and friend had their bikes stolen from there on her first trip to DC. I blame them as they had a room and left the bikes unlocked on the porch, but they were only 17 at the time so I'll chalk it up to stupid youth. The owner was extremely helpful throughout the entire situation, he shuttled them to the police station to file a report and let them stay in the room until we delivered spare bikes. Then when my daughter was in Cumberland the police recovered the bikes and the owner drove to Cumberland and shuttled them back to the police station to pick up their bikes and held the spare bikes until we retrieved them. I don't blame the owner for my kids stupidity but am thankful for how helpful he was.
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Old 02-26-20, 03:29 PM
  #65  
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We did it last summer and had a blast. We did it in 7 days. 6 days riding and a rest day. For perspective the previous two years I did the Blue Ridge Park/Skyline Drive, unsupported, averaging about 75 miles with lots of climbing, and the Natchez Trace in 5 days averaging 100 miles a day.

Both of those were harder, but considering its gravel, and some sections with very poor wet conditions on the C&O, it wasn't much easier than either of those.
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Old 02-26-20, 03:42 PM
  #66  
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Our itenerary with some travel suggestions:

Day 1 Pittsburgh to Connellsville 59 miles. Stay at Cobblestone Inn, Lunch at Crooked Creek Distillery and Barbeque in West Newton Dinner Ruvvo's Italian Restaurant
Day 2 Connellsville to Rockford 47 miles, Stay at Horizon View Farms, Lunch Ohio Pyle, Side Trip to Frank Loyyd Wrights Falling Waters ( 6 miles round trip or get a shuttle in Ohio Pyle)
Day 3 Rockford to Cumberland 44 miles, Stayed at Cumberland Inn and Spa
Day 4 Cumberland to Hancock. Stay at Rvierrun BNB 60 miles
Day5 Hancock to Sheperdstown 52 miles, stay at Bavarian Inn, dinner at hotel
Day 6 Rest Day in Sheperdstown, Side trip to Antietam Battlefield , Dinner Bistro 112
Day 7 Sheperdstown to D.C. 75 miles ( including to Omni Shoreham Hotel
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Old 02-26-20, 03:55 PM
  #67  
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Reviews of the above: Cobblestone is a nice hotel right off the trail with a nice deck overlooking the river, and cyclist friendly.
Crooked Creek Distillery and BBQ is a fun lunch stop if you dont get West Newton too soon

Ruvvo's Italian restaurant is very good

Horizon View Farms is an awesome place. Definitely worth the 3 mile sidetrip (with a bit of aclimb) You're away from town, so if you dont wnat to ride back in, pre order their chili dinner which is quite good.

Cumberland Inn is a dive, I would definitely not stay there again. There's a Fairfield Inn and Suites right off the trail, which unfortunately was fully booked.

Riverrun BNB was nice close to the trail, and friendly to cyclists.

Bavarian Inn in Sheperdstown is the highlight of the trip. Very nice hotel, sitting above the Potomac River, Decks with view of the river, infinity edged pool with a bar, and their own microbrewery.

If you're taking a rest day, Sheperdstown comes late in the trip for it, but of the nice hotel and pool, good restaurants in Sheperdstwon, nearby Antietam Batlefield nearby and tubing on the Potomac River makes it the only place (other than possibly Ohio Pyle) along the trail that's really worth spending an extra day in, in my opinion.
And a number of good restaurants Sheperdstown including Bistro 112 and the Press ROom.
The Omni Shoreham in DC is very nice, usually has decent rates for DC and is accessible by bike path directly from the C&O trail.
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Old 02-26-20, 04:27 PM
  #68  
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Some observations:

The Gap is fantastic. You pass through small little villages out of Norman Rockwell paintings. Maintained by volunteers who take great pride in their trail, the surface is hard packed, and in great condition. You could ride it on a road bike with 25mm. tires.

Conversely the C&O, maintained by an underfunded National Park, can be quite rough, particularly if its wet. Our first day on the C&O from Cumberland to Hancock was 60 miles of continuous mud, puddles (some a foot and half deep0 and flooded road. That 60 miles was harder than most road centuries I've done.

A suggestion about riding through the muddy wet sections: Go straight through the puddles with some momentum (with a loose upper body to deal with the puddle that is invariably deeper or steeper edged than anticipated). The ground is actually firmer at the bottom of the puddles, than the surround mud. The alternative of weaving through the mud trying to avoid the puddles, leads to washing the front wheel out in the mud (ask our friend who crashed that way).

There is a section before Sheperdstown which is essentially unrideable. The trail was washed away, and repair by the Park Service made things worse. All that is left of the fill, after further washouts is the large jagged rocks ( better described as boulders). We tried to ride it, did not crash but double pinch flatted. Another rider that crashed and broke his leg. You do not want to fall on the Boulders.

Staying in Sheperdsown makes the last day to DC long (75 miles including the ride to the hotel). One option (assuming they fix the bridge is staying in Harpers Ferry, but then you miss staying in sherdstown and the Bavarian.

Another option is split the last day into 2, and stay at Leesburg using the ferry.
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Old 02-26-20, 04:31 PM
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Old 02-26-20, 04:34 PM
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Old 02-28-20, 10:20 AM
  #71  
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
There is a section before Sheperdstown which is essentially unrideable. The trail was washed away, and repair by the Park Service made things worse. All that is left of the fill, after further washouts is the large jagged rocks ( better described as boulders). We tried to ride it, did not crash but double pinch flatted. Another rider that crashed and broke his leg. You do not want to fall on the Boulders.
How long is that section? Can it be walked?
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Old 02-28-20, 12:42 PM
  #72  
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
There is a section before Sheperdstown which is essentially unrideable. The trail was washed away, and repair by the Park Service made things worse. All that is left of the fill, after further washouts is the large jagged rocks ( better described as boulders). We tried to ride it, did not crash but double pinch flatted. Another rider that crashed and broke his leg. You do not want to fall on the Boulders.
This was last summer? I must have gotten lucky and passed through before it happened. I went through during the 2nd half of June and didn't have any issues in that stretch. There was a washed out section just east of Brunswick. They had a temporary, alternative stream crossing that that I walked my bike over. Other than that, some downed trees, and some active trail maintenance around Harpers Ferry, I don't remember a point where I had to walk. Hopefully in the new year that stretch is no longer a problem.
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Old 02-28-20, 06:28 PM
  #73  
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It was only 100 yards or so, and no real problem to walk
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Old 02-28-20, 06:31 PM
  #74  
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The towpath was undergoing a major resurfacing from Brunswick to Shepherdstown last summer. I got off at Mile 70, rode through Antietam, and got back on at Mile 99 in Williamsport, so I’m not sure how much they completed, but it was done up to Mile 70. There’s a lot of outdated information from past years. The best source for current conditions is the NPS website, along with recent reports from riders.
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