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C&O/GAP - is October an OK month to go?

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C&O/GAP - is October an OK month to go?

Old 07-12-14, 06:43 AM
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C&O/GAP - is October an OK month to go?

I've been planning to ride the C&O/GAP but I keep having to put it off. I had planned September, and that *might* still be possible. But now it's looking like October is a lot more doable for me.

I'll be camping most nights. Looks like I can expect 60s for highs and 40s for lows. What about facilities and attractions along the way? Is most stuff still open in October?
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Old 07-12-14, 07:12 AM
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Depending on when in October, I would be more worried about weather than places to stay. Snow is not unheard of in late October in the highlands. It can be very cold at night in the highlands in late October.


Some places might be closed. The Fire Fly restaurant in Ohiopyle closes sometime in the fall but can't remember exactly when.

Early to mid October you should be OK. Lots of places should be open along the GAP anyway as this is prime leaf peeping season.


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Old 07-12-14, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
Depending on when in October, I would be more worried about weather than places to stay. Snow is not unheard of in late October in the highlands. It can be very cold at night in the highlands in late October.


Some places might be closed. The Fire Fly restaurant in Ohiopyle closes sometime in the fall but can't remember exactly when.

Early to mid October you should be OK. Lots of places should be open along the GAP anyway as this is prime leaf peeping season.


PM me if you need help at the Pittsburgh end of your tour.
Thanks. I might be trying too hard to fit it into this year. But if I go in October, I'll be sure and make it at the very start! I won't mind 40 degrees at night at all. I'll be OK if it dips to 30 too but won't love it. Colder than that, and I'll be looking for a motel.

When I get to Pittsburgh I'll be looking to spend the night somewhere and then catch Amtrak back to DC the next morning - then connect on to Atlanta.
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Old 07-12-14, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Walter S
Thanks. I might be trying too hard to fit it into this year. But if I go in October, I'll be sure and make it at the very start! I won't mind 40 degrees at night at all. I'll be OK if it dips to 30 too but won't love it. Colder than that, and I'll be looking for a motel.

When I get to Pittsburgh I'll be looking to spend the night somewhere and then catch Amtrak back to DC the next morning - then connect on to Atlanta.
As early as you can get in October would be the better. If you hit leaf peeping season you might be in competition with the crowds though the trail is absolutely glorious that time of year.


You are welcome to stay here but I live about 6 miles from Pittsburgh and the train back to DC leaves very early in the morning. It would be expensive but you could get a hotel right next to the train station.

Another option would be to stay here and rent a car at the airport. I live very close by and there is a bike trail going right into the parking lot of the airport. If you can't get a car big enough to transport your bike then I have a rack you are welcome to have. As long as you promise to pass it on. It was given to me by another BF member on a GAP trip.

You could give yourself the better portion of a day to see Pittsburgh. See Tarwheels recent post.
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Old 07-12-14, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
As early as you can get in October would be the better. If you hit leaf peeping season you might be in competition with the crowds though the trail is absolutely glorious that time of year.


You are welcome to stay here but I live about 6 miles from Pittsburgh and the train back to DC leaves very early in the morning. It would be expensive but you could get a hotel right next to the train station.

Another option would be to stay here and rent a car at the airport. I live very close by and there is a bike trail going right into the parking lot of the airport. If you can't get a car big enough to transport your bike then I have a rack you are welcome to have. As long as you promise to pass it on. It was given to me by another BF member on a GAP trip.

You could give yourself the better portion of a day to see Pittsburgh. See Tarwheels recent post.
Thank you Spinnaker! I'll keep you in mind when I get to firming up my Pittsburgh plan.
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Old 07-12-14, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Walter S
Thank you Spinnaker! I'll keep you in mind when I get to firming up my Pittsburgh plan.
Your other option would be to take the train to Pittsburgh. At arrives around 12AM and if I have the next day off I could probably pick you up. Or you could just get a hotel in the city.

I prefer going to Cumberland as opposed to the other way around. Makes the ride down "the slide" a lot of fun as opposed to a tedious climb up it. But if you still have Pittsburgh as your final destination and you are in Cumberland on the weekend then you can take the train at least part way up the hill.
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Old 07-12-14, 02:05 PM
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Small game season starts on October 11. Wear orange.

A couple of years ago, I was riding in mid-October on the GAP midweek, probably somewhere between Boston and Connellsville, and I came across several kids walking on the trail with *****s (long-barreled implement used to launch projectiles used in hunting - sheesh) and the squirrels they had bagged. It was a little disquieting and I was glad that I had on bright colors.

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Old 07-12-14, 09:07 PM
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It was in the 50s overnight in Connellsville on July 4th, so I'd imagine it can get pretty cold in October.
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Old 07-13-14, 04:27 AM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
Your other option would be to take the train to Pittsburgh. At arrives around 12AM and if I have the next day off I could probably pick you up. Or you could just get a hotel in the city.

I prefer going to Cumberland as opposed to the other way around. Makes the ride down "the slide" a lot of fun as opposed to a tedious climb up it. But if you still have Pittsburgh as your final destination and you are in Cumberland on the weekend then you can take the train at least part way up the hill.
What is "the slide"? I thought I had read somewhere that there were 15 miles or so where it was a little bit uphill heading west and otherwise very level? So riding east is better?
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Old 07-13-14, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Walter S
What is "the slide"? I thought I had read somewhere that there were 15 miles or so where it was a little bit uphill heading west and otherwise very level? So riding east is better?
The "slide" is the ride from the continental divide into Cumberland. Not sure of the distance but it is a significant downhill ride. I think the bike rental places in town take people to the top of the hill for the ride.

While I have never ridden west, I would think going east is better. It is a matter of opinion. Some people don't like going east because of the constant climbing once leaving Pittsburgh. To me that climb is almost imperceptible but the climb out of Cumberland is very noticeable. The good news is that you get it done all in one day as opposed to spreading it over 2 or 3 days. Also the train schedules into Pittsburgh seem ever so slightly livable.
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Old 07-13-14, 06:54 AM
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Personally early October would be my very first choice of time to go. The leaves will be changing and you will have delightful cool weather. You could get frost then, but is that really a hardship? It wouldn't be for me. I'd much rather have chilly nights than deal with summer heat.

I wouldn't sweat small game season. Shotguns have a very short range and the only thing someone will be hunting with a r1fle at that time is squirrels and they are generally up in the trees.
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Old 07-13-14, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
The "slide" is the ride from the continental divide into Cumberland. Not sure of the distance but it is a significant downhill ride. I think the bike rental places in town take people to the top of the hill for the ride.

While I have never ridden west, I would think going east is better. It is a matter of opinion. Some people don't like going east because of the constant climbing once leaving Pittsburgh. To me that climb is almost imperceptible but the climb out of Cumberland is very noticeable. The good news is that you get it done all in one day as opposed to spreading it over 2 or 3 days. Also the train schedules into Pittsburgh seem ever so slightly livable.
I always thought going East was best due to the ~20mi downhill almost coast but having just ridden from Homestead to Cumberland and back I found that I liked the Westward trip a little better. Heading East it is a long gradual uphill ride to Meyersdale starting at Connellsville, heading West I got the uphill portion over in 20 miles and had a relatively easy ride all of the way back home.

Also, if you can do the ride during weekdays the trail is much less crowded.

edit: I guess the only way to know for sure which way you like best is to go both ways.
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Old 07-13-14, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
Personally early October would be my very first choice of time to go. The leaves will be changing and you will have delightful cool weather. You could get frost then, but is that really a hardship? It wouldn't be for me. I'd much rather have chilly nights than deal with summer heat.

I wouldn't sweat small game season. Shotguns have a very short range and the only thing someone will be hunting with a r1fle at that time is squirrels and they are generally up in the trees.
Sounds like a good perspective. I'm going to stick with an early October plan.
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Old 07-13-14, 02:44 PM
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The continental divide to Connellsville is about 4 mph faster than the reverse. Continental Divide to Cumberland is about 8 mph faster than the reverse. So, the grade is most definitely noticeable. Do you want a 25 mile climb and 65 descent or the other way around? Having done both a week ago, I preferred the ride towards Pittsburgh, getting the steeper climb over faster with a long gradual descent.

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Old 07-13-14, 02:59 PM
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One other thing to consider is the destination city to end the trip. While Pittsburgh is a really great city, I don't think you can beat riding into the country's capital to end the trip. I must admit I was in awe when I ended the trip in DC.
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Old 07-13-14, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s
The continental divide to Connellsville is about 4 mph faster than the reverse. Continental Divide to Cumberland is about 8 mph faster than the reverse. So, the grade is most definitely noticeable. Do you want a 25 mile climb and 65 descent or the other way around? Having done both a week ago, I preferred the ride towards Pittsburgh, getting the steeper climb over faster with a long gradual descent.
Yup, that's what I was trying to say only clearer.

I do hope to do the ride into DC this year though.
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Old 07-14-14, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Walter S
When I get to Pittsburgh I'll be looking to spend the night somewhere and then catch Amtrak back to DC the next morning - then connect on to Atlanta.
Before starting the GAP in PGH last year I stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites on Smallman, a few blocks from the train station. Can't remember the exact rate, but I think it was around $155 with a decent buffet breakfast. Keep in mind that if you plan to stay Saturday night you should check the Steeler's schedule. I stayed there on a Friday and had no problem. I was originally going to drive out and stay Saturday night but I could not find a hotel room anywhere in the center of the city. The woman at the desk told me it was due in part to the Steeler's game on Sunday.
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Old 07-14-14, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s
Having done both a week ago, I preferred the ride towards Pittsburgh, getting the steeper climb over faster with a long gradual descent.
While I haven't ridden both ways, I liked the opposite way and am sure I would like it better than east-west. For me, the route got much more interesting the further east I went. The eastern end is urban/suburban bike path/sidewalk. Heading east, the slide was like a nice reward for 2.25 days of gradual up hill. I tried to think of it as a nice descent after a long mountain pass.
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Old 07-14-14, 01:09 PM
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I think October would be an ideal time to ride the C&O-GAP trails, but I like riding in cooler weather. I find it difficult camping in summer due to the heat and humidity, unless it's in areas where it gets cool at night. The fall leaf color would be an added bonus, however, you might need to use more caution riding on wet leaves if it rained.
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Old 07-14-14, 01:23 PM
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Rode the C&O last weekend, and decided to stay at the Red Roof Inn in Williamsport, which turned out to be a good call. The mornings were OK, but by 2:00 pm, even rolling along with a water soaked shirt and hair offered no relief. Can't tolerate sleeping in high heat and humidity, although I could probably get used to it over several days. Choosing between October and July, it would be October hands down. Kind of lucked out with the weather over the July 4th weekend on the GAP trip. Only saving grace with the C&O is that is was almost mud free, but that has no doubt changed with the rain last night and more predicted for today and tomorrow.
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Old 07-14-14, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel
I think October would be an ideal time to ride the C&O-GAP trails, but I like riding in cooler weather. I find it difficult camping in summer due to the heat and humidity, unless it's in areas where it gets cool at night. The fall leaf color would be an added bonus, however, you might need to use more caution riding on wet leaves if it rained.
If you pick the exact right week the trail can be magical in October. Hard to describe the beauty. One big advantage of living here. it is easy to pick a weekend to ride and if you miss just go the next week too.

Another big problem with the leaves is there are so many, you don't know where the edge of the path is located! And it is a much bigger problem on the Allegheny River Trail where it is a paved path.
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Old 07-21-14, 05:12 PM
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I rode the GAP over Columbus Day weekend a few years ago. Foliage was beautiful and temps were nice. But it could easily have gone the other way with regard to the weather.

My trip journal, including info on renting cars one-way at beginning and end, is at https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/BrianGAPtour
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Old 09-25-14, 07:41 PM
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Good info here. Thank you all.

Planning Cumberland to Point State Park, second weekend in October. Cumberland climb to Rockwood day 1, Rockwood to West Newton day 2, WN to PSP day 3. Pretty excited.

Bike is plain-Jane Trek Verve 1. Stock 700x35 Bontrager on front, Race Lite Hard Case on rear.

QUESTIONS:

Back tire okay for October? No tread. Also, suggestions on decent economical tires appreciated. I'd be okay rolling on what I have but would gladly take advice from those who have been there/done that.

Approaching Pittsburgh, does the trail become more difficult to identify/follow? It's a complete trail to Point State park now, correct?

Opinions on Hostel On Main (Rockwood)? I understand it's run by Judy Of The Mill Shoppes as well. Would tend to think it's top notch.

Opinions on Yough Outfitters Campground in West Newton, and/or Trailside Restaurant/Pub? Would like to camp the second night and leave the smallest mileage for Sunday. Don't mind camping in cold. Not like 10 degrees cold but high 30s would be livable.

I rode from Ohiopyle to Frostburg (and back the next day) September 2013. Had stock treaded Bontrager for that trip. Thought it was okay. I'm not too picky. Camped at Trail Inn in Frostburg. Nice folks, adequate campground, unbeatable shower house. Ate at Rockwood Mill Shoppes (Judy is very nice, as was my chicken salad sammich) day one, Lucky Dog Care in Confluence day two (also good, though I didn't plan food well on day two and would've happily eaten a pine tree at point). Have camped at Ohiopyle dozens of times via vehicle but agree w those who say avoid camping there from the trail. Billy-goat trail to campground.

Thank you!
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Old 09-25-14, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by DJ43
Bike is plain-Jane Trek Verve 1. Stock 700x35 Bontrager on front, Race Lite Hard Case on rear.

QUESTIONS:

Back tire okay for October? No tread. Also, suggestions on decent economical tires appreciated. I'd be okay rolling on what I have but would gladly take advice from those who have been there/done that.

Approaching Pittsburgh, does the trail become more difficult to identify/follow? It's a complete trail to Point State park now, correct?

Tires should be fine. I've had 28mm race lite hard case on the GAP without issues; might be a little slippy with the leaves on the ground. IF you want something more substantial, I really like these (listed as 37 but actually measure 32mm on my 22mm rim @70psi). I had the Vittorias out on the GAP recently and I really liked how they bit in when I wanted to pass someone, no slippage at all. They also rock on pavement. 120tpi and kevlar... not to mention Nashbar keeps giving an additional 20% off every few days so you can get two for under $50. They also came from a warehouse near Youngstown, OH so with regular delivery you'll have them in a couple of days in WV.

I think the most difficult part to follow is around the Homestead waterfront, but nothing that would seriously throw anyone off.

It's not a complete trail to Point State Park, it's a little weird on the home-stretch... just a few blocks.

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Old 09-25-14, 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by DJ43
Good info here. Thank you all.

Planning Cumberland to Point State Park, second weekend in October. Cumberland climb to Rockwood day 1, Rockwood to West Newton day 2, WN to PSP day 3. Pretty excited.

Bike is plain-Jane Trek Verve 1. Stock 700x35 Bontrager on front, Race Lite Hard Case on rear.

QUESTIONS:

Back tire okay for October? No tread. Also, suggestions on decent economical tires appreciated. I'd be okay rolling on what I have but would gladly take advice from those who have been there/done that.

Approaching Pittsburgh, does the trail become more difficult to identify/follow? It's a complete trail to Point State park now, correct?

Opinions on Hostel On Main (Rockwood)? I understand it's run by Judy Of The Mill Shoppes as well. Would tend to think it's top notch.

Opinions on Yough Outfitters Campground in West Newton, and/or Trailside Restaurant/Pub? Would like to camp the second night and leave the smallest mileage for Sunday. Don't mind camping in cold. Not like 10 degrees cold but high 30s would be livable.

I rode from Ohiopyle to Frostburg (and back the next day) September 2013. Had stock treaded Bontrager for that trip. Thought it was okay. I'm not too picky. Camped at Trail Inn in Frostburg. Nice folks, adequate campground, unbeatable shower house. Ate at Rockwood Mill Shoppes (Judy is very nice, as was my chicken salad sammich) day one, Lucky Dog Care in Confluence day two (also good, though I didn't plan food well on day two and would've happily eaten a pine tree at point). Have camped at Ohiopyle dozens of times via vehicle but agree w those who say avoid camping there from the trail. Billy-goat trail to campground.

Thank you!
Leaving Boston, the trail starts to break up a bit. It is well marked but my advice is don't bother with the trail in Mckeesport.

Cross the 15th St. Bridge then turn left onto Walnut St. / Route 148. (Look for the roundhouse after crossing the bridge on your left, interesting site.

Turn right on to Lysle Blvd.

Turn left onto Locust St. You should see signs for the GAP before your turn. There will be a large abandoned parking garage on the corner on the left.

Cross the railroad tracks and head straight for the river.

The trail will be in front of you. There will be lots of old interesting RR buildings on the right. Trail is contiguous till you hit South Side Works area.

At the end of the tail you have the option of making a right, crossing the Hot Metal Bridge (there is a bicycle bridge on the far side of Hot Metal St) , make a left. That trail will take you into the city.

Or (and my advice) is to head like you are crossing the bike bridge but instead, do not cross and find the down ramp to the trail below.

It is much more quiet and pleasant on that side of the river.

The trail will be contiguous until you get near Station Sq.

At the end of the trail you will cross a RR crossing. Follow the cobble street in front of you and make the first right. Eventually. you will see a parking lot in front of you. Ride through the parking lot to Station Sq. You can cross at the Smithfield St. Bridge or continue on through Station Sq. past the soccer field. IMHO one of the best views of the city here, aside from Mt. Washington. Go up to West Carson St., make a left onto the sidewalk on the left side of the street. There is as sidewalk going across the Ft. Pitt Bridge. It takes you down into the Point.

As an option you can then cross the Ft. Duquense Bridge to Northside. WATCH the steps to the left at the other side of the bridge. Stay to your right.

The North Side has the stadiums and bicycle museum, Take the trail down river (away from the city), past the casino, past the science center and you will see signs for Bicycle Heaven.

PM me. If I have that day off I would be happy to show you around.
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