I am looking to do a six-day ride from Pittsburgh to DC on the Great Allegheny Passage/C&O Canal Towpath. Ride is ~333 miles point to point. Trail is packed gravel mostly, some slightly more rugged/bumpy paths further in. I am looking to see if there are any hardy folks that want to put a contingent together and do this thing in six days or less.
Kick it around if you are interested and post your reply below. We can figure out how to get in touch and discuss later. For now, I just want to see if there is any general interest.
If you put a ride like that together keep me posted. Might be nice to do an end to end ride with a group of folks.
BTW, I picked the GAP because it was completely automobile-free riding as I understand it.
It's a good ride - and I'd encourage anyone to go for it. It's been a number of years, but I've "been there and done that."
Bob - I read this blog a year or so ago and the one you did for the ride down to Mississippi. Thanks for posting them. I am going to start my planning in earnest, soon. I need to upgrade my bike (it doesn't allow for bigger tires) so I will start looking for a distance rig.
Like you my plan is to take Amtrak both ways...but I am planning on getting a sleeper; I will have plenty of time to sleep on the ground later (though I intend on staying in smaller motels, etc.)
Thanks again for your posts.
Please keep me posted on a GAP group. I am mainly interested in a Pittsburgh - Cumberland trip. About a year ago I read Amtrak would allow roll-on/roll-off at both stations. When I rode the KATY trail about 5 years ago I kept all days less than 40 miles. I tent camped all nights but did not carry any cooking gear. Local restaurants and a few packed breakfasts or lunches. It poured the fourth day out on the Katy. The “gravel” trail turned to sticky mud and was a real chore to make any headway with a loaded bike.
Two years ago I rode the Sparta-Elroy trail. It rained when we arrived and all the first day. That gravel trail was messy when wet, but still quite ride able.
Does anybody have any solid information (not Trump-talk) on ride ability of GAP surface when soaked?
The GAP is quite easy to ride when it's wet. I did it in September of 2018 and on our 2nd day the remnants of a hurricane off the east coast blew in and it rained. All day long. At points there was an inch or more of standing water because it was raining so much, but the trail conditions were fine. When it did stop raining the next morning (we opted for a B&B to stay in that night) the trail drained well and the riding was fine.
The C&O canal trail on the other hand can be a complete mess when it is really wet. We rode as far as Hagerstown MD and it was challenging at times.
Thanks for the information John. Between your information and an online description at
I am inclined to skip the Cumberland to DC section. I might do the GAP ride as soon as most schools start, first part of September. I am thinking of a four or five day trip. Day one: Amtrak to Pittsburgh and cycle some to a campground.(overnight Amtrak arrives before 7am in Pittsburgh) Days 2,3 maybe 4 cycling, depending on side trips , desirability of available campsite and distances. A quick study of the campsite list https://gaptrail.org/system/resources/W1siZiIsIjIwMTkvMDUvMTQvMTcvM...
shows they are not evenly spaced along the trail.
Last day cycle some and board Amtrak in Cumberland ( Westbound Amtrak after 11pm )
See you on the road
The C&O is an absolute arm and butt buster. But it was worth it to ride through Antietam!
I rode the C&O in three days and it rained starting as soon as I left Cumberland didn't stop until I reached the more solid Crescent Trail outside Washington. I remember being miserable, soaked through and yelling profanities at the sky all day long as each mile mark went by and I knew how much further I still had to go. The rain is loud on the leaves but since it was late October there weren't many people around. Other than scrambling over some fallen trees it was still okay. I wouldn't do it with anything narrower than 35mm tires, but that's fairly loaded down.
That is a great photo, Tricolor. This is my idea of a nice, leisurely ride along the river.
Update: There will be two tune-up rides on the Elroy to Sparta (and back) trail. I will post that separately.
Goal is to get proper seat time - and build endurance. If Wisconsin is in your future, make a note below.
I am interested in staying in touch about an Elroy-Sparta tune-up ride. Are you looking at car the night before, ride a day, camp/motel a night, ride a day & car home in evening? I would be interested. We do not have a car, but I would be willing to pay mileage.
When I rode the Sparta Elroy it poured the first day. There were waterfalls coming onto the trail near the tunnel cuts. Some tunnel cuts had thick fog that cleared up when we entered the tunnel; eerie when emerging into it. Tires would pick up some of the gravel surfaces and fling it everywhere. I still might still have a little of Wisconsin in seams of a cycle bag. The surface remained firm and rideable with 32mm tires. Loved it, most of my pictures were first day. Second day was boring warm and sunny.
It will either be via car or Amtrak and then ride over to the trail. Not sure as of now. Am going to look toward end of March for the first ride. Maybe mid April...depending on weather (cold, lack of ice.)