Table of Contents
+ Trail Overview & Tips
About The Great Allegheny Passage Trail
Completed in the summer of 2013, the GAP is 150 miles of rail trail through rural Pennsylvania and Maryland open to hikers and bikers. The trail extends from downtown Pittsburgh, PA to Cumberland, Maryland, following the path of four former railways. The trail passes directly past numerous historic sites, through tunnels, over trestles and bridges, and within a few thousand feet (as the crow flies) of Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwater home, though actually connecting to it by bike is a longer, hilly ride. The trail has a hard packed surface that rolls well, with good drainage and modest slope inclines.
About the C&O Towpath
The C&O Towpath, once a thoroughfare for commercial goods on barges that were towed by horses and mules, was saved from becoming yet another highway in 1954 by Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, who organized an 8-day hike up the path to publicize his worthy cause. The trail today is 184.5 miles of dirt path following the north bank of the Potomac River from Cumberland, Maryland to downtown Washington, DC. Hikers and bikers enjoying the trail can expect to see deer, blue herons, and turtles in epic numbers many times of the year. Trail conditions are softer and less well-drained than the GAP, making travel during rains slower and messy, though still quite possible.
What shape should I be in?
With the exception of the the Great Allegheny Passage's Pittsburgh-bound direction between Cumberland, MD and the Eastern Continental Divide (2000 feet in 23 miles), neither the GAP nor the C&O Towpath have any truly steep hills on them. The grades are gentle and gradual, and you will never need to stand up and pedal, until you leave the trail for some of the more mountainous town stops. You will need to be able to pedal yourself along at about 11 or 12 mph for 6 or 8 hours each day, which isn’t a fast pace, and really isn’t a huge caloric undertaking. It is, however, a good test of your ergonomics and saddle comfort. Prior to the trip, the best use of your prep time is going to be dialing in your handle bar position, your saddle height and angle, and even the saddle type itself. These seemingly small discomforts will add up each day to make you much more tired and unhappy if not addressed. Thus, if you bike to work everyday on the saddle you'll be using, you’re probably in plenty good enough shape to bike the trail. More importantly, if you can be comfortable on your bike for most of a day, then that bike is good enough to ride the trail on. Buying an expensive, light new bike just for the trail that isn’t as comfortable as your old beater would probably be a huge mistake.
Family Travel Tips
Kids who are small enough to need naps will need to be strapped into something that allows them to nod off. Older kids will want entertainment, and that can come from the environment – in the form of animal sightings and scenic overlooks – or from you, in the form of verbal games that don’t require constant eye contact. Our daughter was 6 when we rode the trail, so we remembered or made up many such games as we biked along, including “I Spy,” alphabet-based games, number-based games, and some games that just asked crazy “what would you do” questions to let her imagination run full-speed for awhile. If you are using a trail-a-bike setup, make very sure you have good fender coverage, as the C&O Towpath can be dirty and muddy. Kid-sized biking shorts under their normal clothing helps with saddle comfort, as well. Perhaps most importantly, remember that most kids will mirror your reaction to the trip. If you’re able to laugh at occasional mud, flat tires, sore legs, and rain, then they’ll laugh about it too. The other riders you encounter will probably congratulate your kids for being out on the trail, too, which will bolster their confidence.
Our family biking setup:
- Her: single speed touring Peugot with a front rack and dual Ortlieb panniers
- His: Pedego electric mountain bike with Burley's rear rack and Piccolo trailer bike and dual panniers. He had to do a rig job on the rack and fender (see below).
We were fortunate enough to have a Pedego Ridge Rider (electrically assisted mountain bike) loaned to us for the trip, and it turned out to be an absolute game-changer, particularly with towing a kid on a trail-a-bike. Categorically, e-bikes make everything easier. Towing a 6 year old (who, let's be honest, won't be pedaling but 25% of the time) on a trail-a-bike, we still got at least 40 miles on the battery without recharging, using the lowest level of assist to help us maintain about 12 mph. Everytime we stopped for lunch, I would detach the battery and dig the charger out of a dry bag, then charge the battery in a quiet corner of the restaurant, which would put about 10% per hour back onto the battery, helping make sure we arrived each evening with some charge left. The mountain bike form factor, in particular, was a perfect fit for this task, because:
- it’s lighter than most other e-bikes
- it has lugs on the rear of the frame to attach the rack needed for the trail-a-bike
- the wide knobby tires and front shock made the C&O Towpath a lot more pleasant when it got muddy
The way I rigged our Burley Piccolo to the Pedego Ridge Rider was as follows:
- First, I fashioned a wide fender that would cover from under the rack back around low enough to the ground that our daughter wouldn’t get sprayed with water and mud.
- Next, I used the rear triangle and seat stay lugs on the Pedego’s frame to attach the Burley Piccolo rack securely with stainless metric screws and lock washers. That got her attached securely, and kept her from being sprayed by my rear tire, and we bought an attachable fender to help her back from getting sprayed.
For my own all-day comfort up in the Pedego’s cockpit, I did three things:
- First, I put my everyday Brooks saddle on.
- Next, I opened the bar clamp on the stem, left all of the controls on the bar, loosened the stem itself, and swung it around 180 degrees, so that it pointed back towards me instead of pointing forward.
- Then I put the bar right back in, adjusted the angle, and tightened it back up, without needing to remove anything from the bar… all control cables reached with plenty of clearance. This moved the bar about 6 inches closer to me, which meant I could sit up much straighter all day (very important on the C&O), instead of leaning over in a more athletic crouch. All of these mods were easily reversible, and the only problem I had on the ride was one of the rack screws loosening a little at the rear triangle.
+ Mud, Tunnels, Trees, Spiral Staircases and Snakes, Oh MY!
The C&O Towpath is mostly a “two rut” trail with two tire tracks separated by a grassy center, which tend to collect rainwater and create mud in wet conditions. The textured riding surface, mostly clay and crushed stone, will also test your saddle comfort more than perfectly smooth asphalt, making test runs on your bike before any big trip here very important.
What can you do? FENDERS! Seriously, don't worry about weight. You need fenders. Mudflaps, courtesy of Velo Orange would also be smart. This is also why it's helpful to ride with crocs or spray off shoes as you don't want funky feet. All these pictures were taken at the end of the day (and we had fenders). We got smart on the second day at put our daughter in her rain overalls.
While some tunnels are lit, some are not and are long! Make sure to bring bright lights or a headlamp. One of the most memorable moments on the trip was the Paw Paw tunnel. A spandex clad gentleman who was coming out of the tunnel as we entered, made sure to warn us to walk our bikes and turn on our lights. Seeing this as a challenge, we attempted to bike the whole way with our generator lights and made it (photo above: Megan proving the guy wrong)! Now, had we seen all the millipedes (Temple of Doom, anyone?) clinging to the tunnel walls, we might have walked.
Some of the C&O Towpath has amazing biking conditions (Big Slackwater's cement "riverwalk"), but most is uneven and can be taxing on you physically and emotionally. Because the puddled water tends to obscure the trail surface, you have to bike like every puddle has a rut or you'll take a spill. This causes you to clench everytime you go through a puddle and after 30 puddles, you'll start to shout obscenities when you hit one with a rut that kills your hands and arse.
What can you do? Wear biking gloves, shorts, ride a bike with a more upright position, ride slowly and try to relax.
You'll see a lot of wildlife on the C&O Towpath, the less traveled sibling of the Great Allegheny Passage Trail. We saw herons, snakes, turtles, rabbit, deer, weasel (carrying a snake in his mouth), owls and even a fox (carrying a rabbit)!
Spiral Staircase at Harper's Ferry
You have two options when you get to Harper's Ferry:
- Unclip your panniers, lock your bike at the rack and carry your panniers about 1/2 mile across the bridge and to downtown Harper's Ferry.
- Carry your bike and panniers up the spiral staircase and ride to town.
Cyclocross meets touring! Expect to have to pick your bike over a downed tree at some point on the trip. We ran into three of them.
Pittsburgh to DC
5 nights / 6 days, 30-70 miles per day
Advantages: 1) the incline is steady uphill with a wonderfully steep downhill after the Eastern Continental Divide and it's basically flat after Cumberland to DC. 2) the trail is paved or hard packed dirt in the beginning, allowing you time to get used to the saddle.
Disadvantage: 1) finishing the tour with muddy, sometimes rutted towpaths from Cumberland to past Harper's Ferry. The puddles can do a number on you psychologically because you have no idea what lays beneath the surface of the water. But, in a drought, you're fine! 2) Finishing in a hotter, very humid climate.
DC TO PITTSBURGH
Advantage: 1) finishing the tour on a slow decline to Pittsburgh. 2) the second half of the tour will be on hard packed dirt or pavement. 3) Finishing in a cooler climate.
Disadvantage: 1) the trail is pretty steep from Cumberland to the Eastern Continental Divide. 2) getting disheartened by the mud early on in the tour
Sample ItineraryDay 1 - Pittsburgh to Connellsville, 60 miles*
- Breakfast - Bluebird Kitchen
- Lunch - The Trailside West Newton
- Dinner - Martin’s Grocery (get breakfast if you need it)
- Lodging - Polymath Park
Day 2 - Connelsville to Meyersdale, 60 miles
- Breakfast - Grab grocery provisions at Martin’s
- Optional Tour - Fallingwater
- Snack - Ice Cream at Falls Market General Store
- Lunch - Lucky Dog Cafe in Confluence
- Dinner - Take Six Pizza in Meyersdale
- Lodging - Yoder’s Guest House
Day 3 - Meyersdale to Paw Paw, 60 miles
- Breakfast - Yoder’s Guest House or GI Dayroom Coffee
- Lunch - El Canelo in Frostburg
- Beer - Niner’s Canal Pub in Cumberland
- Dinner - Wrenwood Inn
- Lodging - Wrenwood Inn
Day 4 - Paw Paw to Hancock, 30 miles
- Breakfast - Wrenwood Inn
- Lunch / Dinner - Buddy Lou’s
- Dinner - Buddylou’s in Hancock
- Lodging - America’s Best Value Inn
Day 5 - Hancock to Harper’s Ferry, 65 miles
- Breakfast - America’s Best Value Inn
- Lunch - Desert Rose Cafein Williamsport
- Dinner - Domestic or Blue Moon Cafe in Shephardstown
- Lodging - The Town's Inn
Day 6 - Harper’s Ferry to DC, 60 miles
- Breakfast - Beans in the Belfry in Brunswick
- Lunch - Old Angler’s Inn in Bethesda (lunch closes at 2:30)
- Dinner - DBGB in Washington
- Lodging - Fairmont DC
For customized itineraries, please email us.
+ Packing and Gear List
Please see the Transportation section below to accommodate travel with your bike to either the Pittsburgh or DC trailheads.
- GAP Mile 150 - Pittsburgh - Adam Solar Rides Electric Bike Shop - for rental rates, email (Adam@AdamSolarResources.com) or call, 412-222-1900 for rates. IZIP eBikes and BH Easy Motion Electric Bikes
- GAP Mile 150 - Pittsburgh - Golden Triangle Bike- $60+ per day for hybrid, perforance, touring bikes. Accessories like fenders, lights, panniers, and more, are extra.
- GAP Mile 113 - West Newton - West Newton Bicycyle Shop - $15+ daily for a cruiser, child trailer, trailer bike, recumbent or tandem.
- GAP Mile 88 - Connellsville, PA - Bikes Unlimited, $6/hour or $25/day for hybrid bikes.
- GAP Mile 72 - Ohiopyle, PA - White Water Adventures, $5/hour or $20/day for cruiser bikes. Their attached coffee shops sells boxed lunches.
- GAP Mile 62 - Confluence, PA - Confluence Cyclery, $5/hour or $25/day for standard, child, trailer, trailer bike, tandem, recumbent, tricycle bikes.
- GAP Mile 44 - Rockwood, PA - Rockwood Trail House Bed & Breakfast - $?/hour or $?/day for hybrid, tricycle, trailer bike or trailer
- GAP Mile 0 - Cumberland, MD - Cumberland Trail Connection - $20/half day, $30/day for hybrid, trailer, tandem, recumbent, mountain or road bikes
- C&O Mile 73 - Shepherdstown, WV - Sheperdstown Pedal & Paddle - $20+/2 hours, $40+/day for trail, comfort, fat tire, road, kids', trailer bikes
- Pittsburgh - Golden Triangle Bike - $99/bike for DC drop off or $75/bike for Cumberland drop off
- Pittsburgh - Golden Triangle Bike - price for luggage, people and bike shuttling based on need. Use form linked from website.
- GAP Mile 150 - Pittsburgh - Golden Triangle Bike - $185+ per person includes consult, custom itinerary and lodging. Bike rentals, luggage and bike transfer extra.
- GAP Mile 150 - Pittsburgh - Bike the Gap - $759+ per person includes lodging, lugge shuttle and one-way transfer
- GAP Mile 150 - Pittsburgh - Wilderness Voyageurs - $995+ per person for 4-day tour includes lodging, meals, luggage transfer and shuttle. Bike rental is extra.
- GAP Mile 113 - West Newton, PA West Newton Bicycle Shop - full service bike shop with restaurant above.
- GAP Mile 88 - Connellsville, PA - Bikes Unlimited - full service bike shop
- GAP Mile 62 - Confluence, PA - Confluence Cyclery - full service bike shop
- GAP Mile 0 - Cumberland, MD - Cumberland Trail Connection - full service bike shop
- C&O Mile 125 - Hancock MD - C&O Bicycle - full service bike shop, bunkhouse and general store.
- C&O Mile 73 - Shepherdstown, WV - Sheperdstown Pedal & Paddle - full service bike shop
- C&O Mile 61 - Harper's Ferry - Mobile Bike Repair - mobile bike repair, 703-431-7938
+ Hotels & Airbnbs
We curated these accommodations because, with the exception of Polymath Park, they are conveniently located off the GAP Trail and C&O Towpath. Each section is sorted in the Pittsburgh to DC direction.
- GAP Mile 150 - South Side Traveler's Rest - bunks are $40-$46, private rooms $80-$200 | 27 S 6th St, Pittsburgh, PA | 412-221-0524 Amenities: indoor bike parking, fix-it station, tools for guests, located within a mile of the GAP trail, community of fellow bike travelers
- GAP Mile 88 - Polymath Park-$249+, 187 Evergreen Ln, Acme, PA | 508-487-1342. Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian compound of rental homes.
- GAP Mile 32 - Yoder’s Guest House-$70+, 106 Meyers Ave, Meyersdale, PA | 814-634-2554. Bike friendly bed and breakfast.
- C&O Mile 155 - Wrenwood Inn - $65+, 107 Winchester Street, Paw Paw, WV, 304-947-5983. Bike friendly bed and breakfast with a full dinner.
- C&O Mile 124 - America’s Best Value Inn-$70+, 2 Blue Hill Road, Hancock, MD | (301) 246-8408. Friendliest host on the tour of retro, motor lodge style accommodations right off the trail.
- C&O Mile 61 - The Town's Inn-$35+, 179 High Street, Harpers Ferry, WV | (304) 224-2790. Thank goodness Gordon Ramsay of "Hotel Hell" got a hold of this Inn. It now has beautiful accommodations but Karan, the host, though nice, is very quirky.
- C&O Mile 0 - Fairmont DC-$250+, 2401 M Street, NW, Washington DC | <a data-preserve-html-node="true" href="202-429-2400>(202) 429-2400. Ending the 6 day tour at the Fairmont felt soooo good that it was almost hard leaving the room to explore the city.
- GAP Mile 122 - Dravo Cemetery Camping - FREE, mile 122
- GAP Mile 110 - Cedar Creek Trekker Campground - FREE, mile 110
- GAP Mile 92 - River's Edge Camground - $, mile 92, (724)-628-4880
- GAP Mile 73 - Kentuck Campground, Ohiopyle State Park - $, mile 73, (888)PA-PARKS
- GAP Mile 62 - Youth Dam Outflow Camping - $, mile 62, (814)395-3944
- GAP Mile 43 - Husky Heaven Campground - $, mile 43, (814)926-2024
- C&O Towpath campsites - FREE, 30+ sites along the C&O towpath from mile 16-180
- GAP Mile 132 - Yough Shore Inn-$70+, 1403 Boston Hollow Rd, McKeesport, PA, 412-754-0440
- GAP Mile 114 - Bright Morning B&B-$70+, 127 Jefferson Ct, West Newton, PA, 724-872-0792
- GAP Mile 88 - Cobblestone Hotel-$80+, 325 N First St, Connellsville, PA, 888-693-8262
- GAP Mile 44 - Rockwood Trail House Bed & Breakfast, $100, 131 Rockwood, PA, 814-926-4778
- GAP Mile 15 - Trail Inn B&B-$80+, 20 Depot St, Frostburg, MD, 301-689-6466
- GAP Mile 0 - 9 Decatur Guest House-$?, 9 Decatur St, Cumberland, MD, 301-722-4887
- C&O Mile 141 - Little Orleans Lodge-$59, 12814 Appel Rd, Little Orleans, MD, 301-478-2102
- C&O Mile 124 - C&O Bicycle Bunkhouse-$15, 9 S. Pennsylvania Ave, Hancock, MD, 301.678.6665
- C&O Mile 100 - Candlelight Inn-$65, 14 N Conococheague St, Williamsport, MD, 301-223-7376
- C&O Mile 61 - Candlelight Inn-$65, 156 High St, Harpers Ferry, WV, 410-279-4988
- C&O Mile 61 - Teahorse Hostel-$33+, 1312 W Washington St, Harpers Ferry, WV, 304-535-6848
- C&O Mile 48 - Lockhouse 28-$100, Jefferson, MD, 301-714-2233
- C&O Mile 30 - Lockhouse 25-$100, 301-714-2233
- C&O Mile 20 - Lockhouse 22-$100, 301-714-2233
- GAP Mile 0 - Bruce House Inn-$109+, 201 Fayette St, Cumberland, MD, 301-777-8860
- GAP Mile 0 - The Inn on Decatur-$138+, 108 Decatur St, Cumberland, MD, 301-722-4887
- C&O Mile 109 - Lockhouse 49-$115+, 301-714-2233
- C&O Mile 61 - The Angler's Inn-$145+, 867 Washington St, Harpers Ferry, WV, 304-535-1239
- C&O Mile 8 - Lockhouse 10-$150+, 301-714-2233
- C&O Mile 5 - Lockhouse 5-$150+, 301-714-2233
If you want to bring your bike with you for the tour, here are bike friendly transportation options to get you to and fron Pittsburgh, along the trail, and Washington.
Avis - We rented two one-way (to Pittsburgh and from DC) mini-vans for a little more than a $100 each. This was less expensive than train or air travel and, versus driving your own car, let us bike one way.
TRAIN - Carry-on Service
- Capitol Limited (Washington, DC - Pittsburgh - Cleveland - Chicago) - $20 to roll your bike onboard the train. Reservations with your bike strongly suggested to reserve your spot.
TRAIN - Boxed Bike Service
- Pennsylvanian (New York - Pittsburgh) - $10 for checked bike ($15 bike boxes sold at station)
- Delta- $150 to check bike
- JetBlue- $50 to check bike (folding bikes in container under 62 dimensional inches and 50 lbs are FREE)
- Southwest Airlines- FREE bike check in place of one piece of luggage
Capitol Limited - $20 for carry-on bike service at the stations below
- GAP Mile 150 - Pittsburgh, PA
- GAP Mile 88 - Connellsville, PA
- GAP Mile 0 - Cumberland, MD
- C&O Mile 73 - Martinsburg, WV
- C&O Mile 61 - Harpers Ferry, WV
- C&O Mile 0 - Washington, DC
We rented two one-way (to Pittsburgh and from DC) mini-vans for a little more than a $100 each. This was less expensive than train or air travel and, versus driving your own car, let us bike one way.
TRAIN - Carry-on Service
Free-$20 to roll your bike onboard the train. Reservations with your bike strongly suggested to reserve your spot.
- Acela (Boston - New Haven - New York - Philadelphia - Baltimore) - folding bikes only
- Capitol Limited (Washington, DC - Pittsburgh - Cleveland - Chicago)
- Piedmont (New York - Raleigh - Charlotte)
- Vermonter (St. Albans - Burlington - Springfield - New York)
TRAIN - Trainside Check Bike Service
$20 and under to lift your bike to the baggage car attendee. Reservations with your bike strongly suggested to reserve your spot.
- Cardinal (New York - Cincinnati - Indianapolis - Chicago)
- Crescent (New York - Atlanta - New Orleans)
- Northeast Regional (Boston - Providence / Springfield - Hartford - New York - Lynchburg / Richmond - Petersburg - Norfolk / Newport News)
- Palmetto (New York - Charleston - Savannah - Jacksonville - Orlando - Tampa/Miami)
- Alaska Air- $25 to check bike.
- Delta- $150 to check bike
- Frontier- $75 to check bike
- Southwest Airlines- FREE bike check in place of one piece of luggage
- Sun Country Airlines- $75. Sun Country will accept non-motorized touring or racing bicycles with single seats. Bicycles must have the handlebars fixed sideways and the pedals removed, or be placed in a cardboard container, or the pedals and the handlebars must be encased in plastic foam or similar material.
These landmarks stood out to us because they offer scenic views, or inspiration for past and future American ingenuity and they are iconic to the experience of biking the GAP and C&O.
Click on the map image to open our Foursquare list. Download their app for a convenient on-the-trail resource.
Great Allegheny Passage Trail
A. POINT STATE PARK
GAP MILE 150- 36 acres of state park in downtown Pittsburgh at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers as they form the Ohio River, this park also serves as the trailhead for the Great Allegheny Passage Trail.
B. THREE RIVERS HERITAGE TRAIL
GAP MILE 150- 25 miles worth of rail trail on the riverfront in Pittsburgh, offering world class views of downtown and stress-free biking throughout the waterfront.
C. HOT METAL BRIDGE
GAP MILE 146- Originally two rail bridges from 1887 and 1900, later both were converted for car use. In 2007 the downstream side was converted to bike and walking only, offering an amazing car-free experience.
D. CARRIE FURNACES
GAP MILE 140- Rare surviving examples of pre-WWII iron-making technology, blast furnaces 6 and 7 still tower 92 feet over the Monongahela River reminding visitors of what it took to support early 20th century American industry.
E. FALLINGWATER www.fallingwater.org | 1491 Mill Run Road, Mill Run, PA | 724-329-8501
GAP MILE 71- Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece, designed for the Kaufmann family and built in 1935 partially cantilevered out over a small waterfall in quiet woods. It is physically close to the GAP Trail, but only reachable by biking a more circuitous route over some serious hills. The payoff is worth it.
F. OHIOPYLE FALLS
GAP MILE 71- A 20 foot waterfall section spanning the Youghiogheny River in Ohiopyle, PA, with a large grassy park on the banks and a full-service general store near by serving sandwiches and ice cream.
G. PINKERTON HIGH/LOW BRIDGES & TUNNEL
GAP MILE 52- A bridge / tunnel (849 ft) / bridge combo in Somerset County, PA, that follows the Pinkerton Gap in Somerset County, PA.
H. SALISBURY VIADUCT
GAP MILE 34- 1,908 feet long, built in 1912 as a railroad bridge, and converted in 1998 for its new role in giving cyclists and hikers spectacular views of the mountains next to Meyersdale, PA.
I. BOLLMAN BRIDGE
GAP MILE 31- The first widely-adopted all-metal railroad bridge design, in use since 1852, and still being used by cyclists and hikers on the GAP. The Bollman is 160 feet long, and constructed beautifully of both wrought and cast iron.
J. KEYSTONE VIADUCT
GAP MILE 30- A 910 foot concrete surfaced steel span with sweeping views over a rail line, located near the Mason-Dixon Line.
K. EASTERN CONTINENTAL DIVIDE
GAP MILE 24- A very short tunnel along the GAP denotes the high point between two watersheds. Everything to the west of that tunnel drains eventually to the Gulf of Mexico. To the east of it, everything drains to the Atlantic Ocean.
L. BIG SAVAGE TUNNEL
GAP MILE 22- The longest tunnel of the GAP and C&O at 3,295 feet, located 9 miles southeast of Meyersdale, Pennsylvania. The tunnel closes between roughly December 15 and April 10 every winter to protect against ice damage.
M. MASON DIXON LINE
GAP MILE 21- Dating to a colonial border dispute between Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware, and still used as the defining line between the North and South regions of the US. Today the line is denoted as it crosses the GAP by a thick metal line bordered with paving bricks and a plaque.
N. BRUSH TUNNEL
GAP MILE 6- 914 foot long tunnel located a mile west of Corriganville, MD that was originally dug for 2 train tracks, but used today by only one. The second line was converted to a lit biking and hiking path, though one should attempt not to be in the tunnel simultaneously with the scenic train if possible.
O. CUMBERLAND NARROWS
GAP MILE 2- A naturally-occurring narrow valley carved by a river through the Wills Mountain Anticline, used today by several rail lines and roads to access Cumberland, Maryland.
A. PAW PAW TUNNEL
C&O MILE 156- 3,118 feet of canal tunnel near Paw Paw, WV, built to bypass 5 giant swooping bends in the river. It is very long, totally unlit, cool, uneven, and damp, so plan to have good lighting and a jacket.
B. WESTERN MARYLAND RAIL TRAIL
C&O MILE 136-114- A 22.5 mile long paved rail trail from Fort Frederick to Pearre Station, MD, whose smooth, fast surface might prove a welcome respite during wetter weather along the C&O.
C. BIG SLACKWATER
C&O MILE 84-89- A formerly washed-out stretch of the C&O that forced a 5-mile detour, repaired and reopened in 2012 as a beautifully paved stretch of path between cliffs and the river.
D. HARPERS FERRY
C&O MILE 61- Historic, quaint town at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, reachable from the trail only by climbing spiral stairs up to the railroad bridge.
E. WINCHESTER & POTOMAC RAILROAD BRIDGE
C&O MILE 61- A sweeping 4-span railroad bridge over the Potomac at Harper’s Ferry, VA, dating to 1834. Either lock your bike to the nearby rack off the C&O or carry it up the spiral staircase to the pedestrian bridge to Harper's Ferry.
F. WHITE’S FERRY Website | 24801 Whites Ferry Rd Dickerson, MD
C&O MILE 36- Located in Dickerson, Maryland, the only cable ferry service across the Potomac, carrying cars, people, and bikes. 7 days, 5am-11pm. $2 / Bicycle
G. GREAT FALLS PARK
C&O MILE 14- 800 acres of National Park in Virginia alongside the C&O Towpath, overlooking the Great Falls of the Potomac, a spectacular rushing series of waterfalls and islands easily viewed from a series of walkways and bridges.
H. CAPITAL CRESCENT TRAIL
C&O MILE 3- 11 miles of rail trail connecting the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington to Silver Springs, MD. The trail runs alongside the C&O Towpath and the Potomac River for its final approach into DC.
I. NATIONAL MALL
C&O MILE 0- Park space running about 18 blocks from the Lincoln Memorial at one end, past the Washington Monument, to the US Capitol Building, and bordered by the various Smithsonian Museums. Highly recommend riding this at night to see the monument's lit up and to avoid the crowds.
J. PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE
C&O MILE 0- Penn Ave now has a grand cycle track down its center with the Capitol and White House as bookends.
+ Eats & Drinks
Click on the map image to open our Foursquare list. Download their app for a convenient on-the-trail resource.
Great Allegheny Passage Trail
1- GI DAYROOM COFFEE (GAP mile 32)
309 Main Street, Meyersdale
Diner food and coffee.
4- FALLS MARKET GENERAL STORE (GAP mile 71)
69 Main Street, Ohiopyle
General store, cafe and ice cream shop right across from the falls.
7 days 7am-8pm
7- OHIOPYLE HOUSE CAFE (GAP mile 71)
144 Grant St, Ohiopyle, (724) 329-1122
Diverse lunch and dinner menu with preference to local farms, organic and antibiotic free.
Su-W 11am-8:45pm / Th-F 1-12am / Sa 7am-11pm
C&O CANAL TOWPATH
1- NINER'S CANAL PUB (C&O mile 185)
2 Pershing St, Cumberland
Pretty good craft beer selection includes Flying Dog, Brooklyn, Lagunitas, Victory, Rogue, Dog Fish Head, Magic Hat, Troegs and more.
M-Th 4pm-12:30am / F-Sa 4pm-2am
2- EL JINETE (C&O mile 185)
18 Valley St, Cumberland, (301) 777-0847
Large Mexican menu including Huevos Rancheros, vegetarian fajitas and carne asada. GF, V
M-Th 11am-10pm / F 11am-11pm / Sa 11am-10:30pm / Su 11am-9pm
7- BLUE MOON CAFE (C&O mile 73)
200 E High St, Shepherdstown, (304) 876-1920
Tree covered patio with real stream bissecting it. Sandwiches with GF bread and good draft beer and wine. GF, V
7 days 11am-9pm
8- DOMESTIC RESTAURANT (C&O mile 73)
117 E German St, Shepherdstown, (304) 876-1030
Main Street restaurant with focus on local farmers, ranchers and brewers.
Tu-Th 11:30am-10pm / F-Sa 11:30-12am / Su 11:30am-9pm
12- BEANS IN THE BELFRY (C&O mile 55)
122 W Potomac St, Brunswick, (301) 834-7178
Breakfast, coffee and lunch in a former church. Local beer, cider and wine. GF, V
M-Th 8am-9pm / F-Sa 8am-10pm / Su 8am-7pm
13- OLD ANGLER'S INN (C&O mile 12)
10801 MacArthur Blvd, Potomac, (301) 365-2425
Higher end lunch and dinner restaurant with beautiful patio.
M 5:30-9:30pm / Tu-Th 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30-9:30pm / F-Sa 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30-10pm / Su 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30-9pm