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GAP - C&O possible to camp the whole way?

Old 10-09-20, 03:56 PM
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Lionheart
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GAP - C&O possible to camp the whole way?

If I want to solo tour the GAP then C&O route, Pittsburgh to DC, is it possible to camp the whole way? If not, where must I plan on booking accommodations? Iím thinking fully self-contained, not cooking. Iím hoping that from end to end the whole route could take 6 to 7 days. Thanks in advance for your wisdom.
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Old 10-09-20, 09:18 PM
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Yes, it is very possible to camp the whole way. I'm not sure about once you arrive in DC though, if that matters to you.
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Old 10-10-20, 04:31 AM
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I'm not a camper - when we did the C&O and GAP we stayed in motels. But, in planning the route, there were camping places at the typical places you would stop for the night on the GAP. I think the Ohiopyle campground required a steep uphill ride - Confluence looked like a better choice. I wasn't looking into stealth camping at all.

The C&O has hiker/biker sites every 5 -10 miles in most stretches - look here. On the DC end, Swains Lock at about milepost 16 is the last hiker/biker site I remember. There is a group campground at the Marsden Tract not far from the towpath at MP 11 or so but I think you have pay for an entire group site.
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Old 10-10-20, 06:16 AM
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Iíve never done the C&O but have done the GAP several times. Camping is easy even if you do relatively short days. Iíve camped at W. Newton, Connellsville, Rockwood, Confluence, Frostburg and Cumberland. Connellsville is free and has 4 Adirondack shelters as well as tent camping. The GAP Trail Campground in W. Newton is pricey as trail camping goes, but the facility is really nice. Worth it if it fits with your itinerary.

W. Newton, Connellsville, Rockwood and Confluence have restaurants close to the camping, though the Opera House in Rockwood is not open on Sunday, but there is another bar/cafe in town. Frostburg is a little more difficult, but there is decent Mexican on the main drag at the top of the hill. Cumberland has lots of dining, but as I learned last month, many of the independent places are closed on Monday.

If youíre talking about now, note that someone recently reported in the forum that most of the pump handles at the C&O campgrounds have been removed.

Last edited by indyfabz; 10-10-20 at 06:29 AM.
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Old 10-10-20, 11:02 AM
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Yes, it is very easy to camp all the way. That is what I planned when I did it, and I didn't even plan campsites before I left. The only time I deviated from that, was after meeting up with another rider who had a reservation at a bed and breakfast in Little Orleans. I stayed there that night with him, but just before turning into town, there is a place to camp along side the trail. So had I not stayed in the bed and breakfast, I would have camped there.

This was during Hurricane Irene though, and as we passed the camping area, we saw multiple tents blown around resting in odd places and at odd angles. It was nice to be inside, especially after the torrential downpours that day.
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Old 10-10-20, 08:22 PM
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I camped the entire way. You can't camp at the ends (Pittsburgh or Washington)., the camping starts about 30 miles from each end. The longest stretch without camping is probably from Confluence to Frostburg. Campsites are much closer together on the C&O canal. All the free camping on the GAP is between McConnellsburg and West Newton so unless you do a huge day of 120 miles between McConnellsburg and Cumberland, you are going to have to pay for at least one night ($15 or less).

Edit, the Big savage tunnel on the GAP tends to close in November or December and doesn't open again until March or April.
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Old 10-11-20, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by gpsblake View Post
I camped the entire way. You can't camp at the ends (Pittsburgh or Washington)., the camping starts about 30 miles from each end. The longest stretch without camping is probably from Confluence to Frostburg. Campsites are much closer together on the C&O canal. All the free camping on the GAP is between McConnellsburg and West Newton so unless you do a huge day of 120 miles between McConnellsburg and Cumberland, you are going to have to pay for at least one night ($15 or less).

Edit, the Big savage tunnel on the GAP tends to close in November or December and doesn't open again until March or April.
That isn't correct, there is a campground in Rockwood, which is after Confluence when headed East. The one in Rockwood is nice because you can use the shower in their guesthouse in town, and laundry facilities. They also had a place to wash off bikes, and a computer and internet. I camped there. There is also camping in Meyersdale, which is after Rockwood, and before Frostburg.
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Old 10-11-20, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by phughes View Post
That isn't correct, there is a campground in Rockwood, which is after Confluence when headed East. The one in Rockwood is nice because you can use the shower in their guesthouse in town, and laundry facilities. They also had a place to wash off bikes, and a computer and internet. I camped there. There is also camping in Meyersdale, which is after Rockwood, and before Frostburg.
Correct. I stayed in Connellsville the first night and was headed to Rockwood the second night. Almost stopped in Confluence on day two because of an impending storm but decided to push on. I got hit about 5 miles from Rockwood. Fortunately, the torrent started just as I passed a picnic table with a nice, metal roof.

Note that the inside facilities at Rockwood are not open, which means no laundry and no Internet, but the bathhouse is open. The bike washing hose was extremely helpful as my bike was filthy.
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Old 10-11-20, 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Correct. I stayed in Connellsville the first night and was headed to Rockwood the second night. Almost stopped in Confluence on day two because of an impending storm but decided to push on. I got hit about 5 miles from Rockwood. Fortunately, the torrent started just as I passed a picnic table with a nice, metal roof.

Note that the inside facilities at Rockwood are not open, which means no laundry and no Internet, but the bathhouse is open. The bike washing hose was extremely helpful as my bike was filthy.
Full disclosure about Rockwood. There may be some train noise.

Rockwood is sort of a cool town. I performed at the Rockwood Opera House one night. Cool place. It was an old vaudeville theatre. A woman was buying the building, which had been used for a mill I believe, and wanted to put a gym in the building. They mentioned the opera house, and she didn't know anything about it. They led her through a small doorway, and there it was, completely sealed off, and still there. She decided to restore it. She had wallpaper made like the original, and put it back together. They use if for shows, generally a dinner and a show. It was cool to perform where so many old performers once did the same. Some had signed their names on the walls back stage, and she covered those with plexiglass.

They have shops downstairs, and a pizza shop. I had pizza there the night I stayed while riding the trail.
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Old 10-12-20, 04:59 AM
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Right now, rail traffic is down, and CSX is running longer trains, so there were definitely fewer trains last month than is the past.

The Opera House also sells some brand of PA wine by the bottle to go. At least it did last year.

And there is a funny cat that lives across from the Husky Haven building.



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Old 10-12-20, 05:01 AM
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Last summer I camped in Confluence at the Army Corp of Engineers campground. Well done site just below the dam so you have white noise from the river to sleep to. For holders of a Senior Pass, it's half price.

I camped at Connellsville at the free site on the west edge of town. Best of the lot on that trip. Pitched my tent inside a shelter and slept snug as a bug. Lovely quiet spot. Grocery store just down the hill.

I also camped at Rockwood. LOVED the hot shower after 4 days riding in August. Yes there was railroad noise all night. Some sort of switching operation on the other side of the river. May bother some folks, not others. Nice campground.
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Old 10-12-20, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Prowler View Post
Last summer I camped in Confluence at the Army Corp of Engineers campground. Well done site just below the dam so you have white noise from the river to sleep to. For holders of a Senior Pass, it's half price.

I also camped at Rockwood. LOVED the hot shower after 4 days riding in August. Yes there was railroad noise all night. Some sort of switching operation on the other side of the river. May bother some folks, not others. Nice campground.
The thing that drove me nuts about Confluence last year is that there is no iron ranger. I am literally at the closed campground office calling Reserve America to pay for a hiker/biker site. At first the customer service agent could not find the category of site to book it. But yes, it's nice. Saw a large, great blue heron and a bald eagle as I was reading down by the water.

There is a small rail yard on the east end of Rockwood where there are sometimes switching operations at night.
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Old 10-12-20, 09:32 AM
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I did GAP and C&O in 2013, we only camped some nights, but I can say where we did. You should double check these, I only did a quick google search to see if they still existed, one had a name change.

THere was a Riversedge Campground (RV Park) near Connellsville. When I did an internet search, it now comes up as Uniontown KOA.

Camped at the YMCA in Cumberland.

Stayed at the C&O bike shop and bunkhouse in Hancock. Was not camping, but was almost like camping when you are using your sleeping bag on a bunk that was hard enough that you use your own sleeping pad too. Not sure if this would be a good idea with Covid, but if there is a breeze then maybe it would be like being outdoors. I do not know if you could pitch a tent there or not, you could call and ask.

You say you are not cooking. With Covid restaurant restrictions being what they are, good luck with that.
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Old 10-12-20, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Right now, rail traffic is down, and CSX is running longer trains, so there were definitely fewer trains last month than is the past.

The Opera House also sells some brand of PA wine by the bottle to go. At least it did last year.

And there is a funny cat that lives across from the Husky Haven building.



I've seen that cat.
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Old 10-12-20, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by phughes View Post
I've seen that cat.
He's a real imp. A guy at the electrical contractor building next to the bathhouse told me he got inside the building one day and it took them 2 hrs. to get him out. When I left he was drinking water out of a roadside puddle.
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Old 10-15-20, 12:39 PM
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GAP - C&O possible to camp the whole way?

A recent online edition of the Washington Post has a staffer's well written, informative article ("The 150-mile bike trail from Maryland to Pennsylavnia puts the cares of 2020 behind you") describing his and his wife's recent bike trip to Pittsburgh on the GAP Trail. Although it doesn't directly answer the question that started this thread, the piece (and accompanying responses from Post readers) offer useful information for anyone contemplating a bike tour along the trail and the southerly continuation on the C&O Canal Trail into Washington, DC. Enjoy reading AND planning your tour!
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Old 10-15-20, 09:08 PM
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I think you need to invest in a guide book for the trip. You can pick up a used one from 5 years ago and get it cheap. It will show you all of the camping options to gauge your days according to your abilities and save you a lot of hassles that can easily be avoided.
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Old 10-16-20, 12:20 PM
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You can use this interactive map, and filter by service, leaving only "camping" checked and you can get a pretty good idea what is available on the GAP/C&O. Unfortunately you'll need another map to give you approximate mileages in between.

https://gaptrail.org/explore/interactive-map
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Old 10-17-20, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
I think you need to invest in a guide book for the trip. You can pick up a used one from 5 years ago and get it cheap. It will show you all of the camping options to gauge your days according to your abilities and save you a lot of hassles that can easily be avoided.
No need, and one that old wouldnít include the great new place in W. Newton that opened a couple of years ago. Nicest amenities on the route. Check out the showers.

https://gaptrail.org/system/resource...guide_2020.pdf


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Old 10-27-20, 12:54 PM
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C&o

If it is raining the C&O campsites are in the mud. Have alternative available....
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Old 10-27-20, 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by jkinner View Post
If it is raining the C&O campsites are in the mud. Have alternative available....
That depends. Many are grassy and great for camping in the rain. Many sections of the towpath have been and are continuing to be improved, making the mudfest a thing of the past.
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Old 10-29-20, 08:26 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
No need, and one that old wouldnít include the great new place in W. Newton that opened a couple of years ago. Nicest amenities on the route. Check out the showers.
https://gaptrail.org/system/resource...guide_2020.pdf
Not clear if the OP did the ride, but this PDF shows that the nice places (Trail Inn, Husky Haven, KOA, campground in West Newton) close at the end of October.
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