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GAP and C&O Trail Updates

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GAP and C&O Trail Updates

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Old 03-28-08, 12:53 PM
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porter
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GAP and C&O Trail Updates

My girlfriend and I have just completed a tour of the Great Allegheny Passage and Chesapeake & Ohio Canal (Pittsburgh to DC). Despite some coldish weather (for an Australian) a little rain/snow we both enjoyed the entire ride tremendously.

Trail updates for those planning on riding this route:

Great Allegheny Passage

* First half of the trail between McKeesport to Confluence was in good condition - smooth, though quite a few sticks on the ground.

* The section between Confluence and the Big Savage Tunnel (which was still closed) was very soft. I don't know if this is from recent rain or that this section is yet to settle (maybe others can add their experiences). Through most of this section, where the ground wasn't frozen, our tires sank up to an inch or more making going slow. We did 1/2 the miles we did the previous day - so perhaps plan on this section taking longer than you expect.

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

* Trail in good condition - the 30-40 miles out from DC are still the roughest going.

* The handles are currently off the water pumps at each of the hiker/biker camp grounds along the route - so don't rely on these for water along the route.
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Old 03-28-08, 02:12 PM
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ken_matthews
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Thanks for the update PORTER. I plan to use part of the C&O Canal path the end of April.

cheers,
KEN
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Old 03-28-08, 02:44 PM
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EZ-SportAX Curt
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Hey Porter, If you took pictures along the way why don't you do a journal on www.crazyguyonabike.com
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Old 03-28-08, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by porter View Post
* The section between Confluence and the Big Savage Tunnel (which was still closed) was very soft. I don't know if this is from recent rain or that this section is yet to settle (maybe others can add their experiences). Through most of this section, where the ground wasn't frozen, our tires sank up to an inch or more making going slow. We did 1/2 the miles we did the previous day - so perhaps plan on this section taking longer than you expect.
That section at this time of year is still going through a freeze / thaw almost daily. Of course the added rain doesn't help it much. The trail is usually hard packed there once it dries up. You missed the Big Savage Tunnel opening by about a week. I believe they are going to open it this upcoming weekend. The tunnel Troll takes his revenge for keeping him locked up all winter, by giving us one more blast of snow. At least that's the legend I have heard.

Glad you had a nice trip, and I hope to read your journal if you make one.

Denny
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Old 03-30-08, 09:37 AM
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I rode this in May 2007. In retrospect we wished that we had waited until June because the weather was cold in the Appalachian Mountains. And the trail was wet and soft in many places.

We started in Wierton, WV on the Panhandle Trail, which connects to the Montour Trail in PA, which connects to the Great Allegheny Passsage in McKeesport, PA.

There were no designated camping spots on the Panhandle and Montour Trails. This forced us to stealth camp and use a motel until we got to the GAP trail.

We averaged 33 miles per day on fully-loaded touring bikes, with 35mm tires. Tires over 40mm would have been better.
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Old 03-30-08, 03:47 PM
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ha, i just finished (very early this morning) the same thing in the opposite direction.

you're definitely dead on about the GAP trail being soft, especially the southern parts...that annoyed me to no end.

When you rode it, were there fallen boulders blocking the path at the north end of the Salisbury Viaduct (the really long bridge between Meyersdale and Garrett)? As of the night of the 27th, there were a couple large (perhaps 5-6 ft in diameter) boulders and a bunch of other rocks completely blocking the path (you can't go around either because the path is cut through the top of a ridge, with rock walls on either side).

There were also a number of downed trees of varying size when i rode it, mostly between Confluence and Ohiopyle. Of course, these present more of a problem to the loaded touring cyclist than to day riders (the latter of whom were exceedingly more common, as i didn't see a single loaded bike on the GAP besides my own).
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Old 03-30-08, 06:50 PM
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Originally Posted by joshben View Post
ha, i just finished (very early this morning) the same thing in the opposite direction.

you're definitely dead on about the GAP trail being soft, especially the southern parts...that annoyed me to no end.
At least you weren't riding uphill in it! - though it would have spoilt your anticipated nice down hill run - I will say it was a bit of a mental challenge towards the end, a lot of effort for not much progress.

Originally Posted by joshben View Post
When you rode it, were there fallen boulders blocking the path at the north end of the Salisbury Viaduct (the really long bridge between Meyersdale and Garrett)? As of the night of the 27th, there were a couple large (perhaps 5-6 ft in diameter) boulders and a bunch of other rocks completely blocking the path (you can't go around either because the path is cut through the top of a ridge, with rock walls on either side).

There were also a number of downed trees of varying size when i rode it, mostly between Confluence and Ohiopyle. Of course, these present more of a problem to the loaded touring cyclist than to day riders (the latter of whom were exceedingly more common, as i didn't see a single loaded bike on the GAP besides my own).
We came across the fallen boulders and trees you mentioned but with the two of us it was easy enough to carry our bikes over/get around each obstacle. To be honest each was a welcomed relief from the grind...
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Old 03-30-08, 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by porter View Post
To be honest each was a welcomed relief from the grind...
agreed. a change in trail feature was nice. Did anyone else bump into the road detour that started with a wicked 20% uphill around mile 78ish (might be totally off here)? Apparently the path is washed out there, and when you do finally get back on the trail you end up mountain biking. I found out on my way back through the area that once you get out of the valley area you can actually branch off of the detour and head out to rt 68, take a left, and get into Williamsport in no time flat. Great sandwiches. Then just head back down to the Canal by the graveyard and go on your merry way. The reroute added 6 extremely hilly road miles to the journey, for about 2 or 3 canal miles. Once again, though, this was a "welcome relief from the grind."
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Old 03-31-08, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Fueled by Boh View Post
Did anyone else bump into the road detour that started with a wicked 20% uphill around mile 78ish (might be totally off here)?
Yes, that's the long-standing (perhaps permanent) detour around the Dam #4 area. I actually didn't ride this section on the C&O, or any section between Shepherdstown and Hancock; because of a mechanical mishap i was driven to Winchester, VA by my friend for repairs and rode to Hancock from there (on US522). I'll eventually post the details of the mishap, and the great help i received from friends, in my own thread.

Also, with regards to the water pumps along the C&O: on my first day (3/26, Point of Rocks to Shepherdstown) all the pupms i saw had their handles removed. on the second day (3/27, Hancock to Pearre on the WMRT and Pearre to Purslane Run H/B on the C&O) the pumps that i saw east of the Paw Paw tunnel had their handles removed, but the pumps to the west had the handles. I'm kind of perplexed by this...i should've asked the ranger at the visitor center in cumberland, but didn't think to when i was there. Anyways, it was a welcome relief; though i wasn't in danger of dehydration, i wasn't carrying any plain drinking water, only milk in one (stainless steel) bottle, and a weak solution of gatorade in my camelbak. neither was something i wanted to cook ramen noodles or oatmeal in.
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Old 04-11-08, 08:34 AM
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Trail Photos

Curt/Denny - it is unlikely I'll get around to producing a carzyguyonabike journal in the near future (I still have one to pull together for my tour of Tasmania in 2007). Here is a slide show of the trails - hopefully it will get a few of you that are planing to ride it in the near future excited.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gpvs73tPt0Q

You can see the soft sections quite clearly at around the 1:13 mark of the slide show. From information provided by other posters this is only a problem until there is a dry spell and the surface hardens.

I'm happy to answer anyone's questions on equipment etc that they may have. It's a great ride!

Cheers

Matt
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Old 04-11-08, 09:25 AM
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Thanks for the YouTube post -- nice to see those types of pictures of the trails.
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Old 04-11-08, 02:22 PM
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Thanks Porter,

Those pics' paint a thousand words as it is said. Looked like a great trip.

Denny
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Old 04-11-08, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by porter View Post
Nice slide show!

Speedo
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Old 04-12-08, 08:07 PM
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I love that tree in the lake just below great falls too (last shot), I stop to imagine sitting beneath it every time I pass there. Excellent photos, thank you!
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