The Chainlink

I am thinking of doing this ride. Has anyone done it? What do you think? I might only have time to do half of it. Which half do you think is better, Pittsbutgh to Cumberland or Cumberland to Washington D.C.? Thanks.

Views: 280

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I can put you in contact with a guy who live in  DC who has done it.  PM me.

Ive riden the entirety of both trails (on a tandem). The GAP is definitely better. It's most likely the best rail-to-trail in the nation. It took us 4 or 5 days to ride from Pitt to DC.

I've been thinking about it this fall.  I've followed the routes between Pittsburgh and Cumberland many, many times growing up.  The Western Maryland was already abandoned (done in 1975) but I remember hiking through the woods to find Big Savage Tunnel and climbing out over the Salisbury Viaduct to photograph trains on the better-graded B&O in the valley.  I still have a hard time believing it's a passable trail now.

Pittsburgh and Washington are baggage stops on Amtrak's Capital Limited, but not Cumberland.  Prices aren't too bad in advance, but you'd have to start from downtown Pittsburgh and part of the trail isn't finished.  In my ideal situation you could take the train overnight from Chicago to Pittsburgh, spend a day and night downtown assembling the bike and shopping then get to Washington in a leisurely seven or eight days, with another overnight train ride back to Chicago.

Thanks. I thought I might fly to Pittsburgh and rent a bike. I imagine that is possible(?)



Tricolor said:

I've been thinking about it this fall.  I've followed the routes between Pittsburgh and Cumberland many, many times growing up.  The Western Maryland was already abandoned (done in 1975) but I remember hiking through the woods to find Big Savage Tunnel and climbing out over the Salisbury Viaduct to photograph trains on the better-graded B&O in the valley.  I still have a hard time believing it's a passable trail now.

Pittsburgh and Washington are baggage stops on Amtrak's Capital Limited, but not Cumberland.  Prices aren't too bad in advance, but you'd have to start from downtown Pittsburgh and part of the trail isn't finished.  In my ideal situation you could take the train overnight from Chicago to Pittsburgh, spend a day and night downtown assembling the bike and shopping then get to Washington in a leisurely seven or eight days, with another overnight train ride back to Chicago.

Good to know, thanks.

Kelvin Mulcky said:

Ive riden the entirety of both trails (on a tandem). The GAP is definitely better. It's most likely the best rail-to-trail in the nation. It took us 4 or 5 days to ride from Pitt to DC.

4-5 days?  That sounds pretty good.  I have to adjust my expectations for the trip length.

Well, remember that its a rail trail, so it's almost completely flat. I think we averaged 75-80 miles a day.

i went to school in pittsburgh and lived in baltimore for 3 years after so would LOVE to do this but don't think i have a bike that would be well suited (fixed gear with 32 gatorskins), anyone able to speak to the actual trail conditions?

A fixed gear would be fine as long as you stay on the trails. You might need to gear down if you plan on carrying camping gear.

It's really two very different trails, the GAP and the C&O. The GAP is a rail-to-trail and is made from finely crushed granite (i believe). The trail is wide, and very nicely graded, not rough at all. There are no hills +/-4% in grade. A lot of people ride road bikes on it without any problems. Like I said earlier, this is probably the nicest rail trail in the country. You pass the Fallingwater house, Ohiopyle state park, and Harper's Ferry. There's lots of good rock climbing, rafting and waterfalls along the trail.

The C&O is a canal tow path that been converted to a bike path. It's almost 100% flat. There's free camping and water every 5 miles or so... The trail is more narrow and is actually more like two-track; similar to a country road. It can be rough and rutted in spots, with an occasional wash out or pot hole. I never saw anyone with tires smaller than 28s on the C&O. We rode it on a steel road-style tandem with 32mm tires and a light camping gear load. It was funny, everyone was amazed that we were riding that bike, like the trail was soooo rough that it couldn't be done on a tandem... We thought it was fun!

Lots of wildlife on both trails. There's plenty of shade, water and rest stops throughout both trails.

I'm getting more stoked about this trip as winter wears on.  How did you get from Chicago to your start point, and what was camping along the C&O path like?  Was it safe as you got closer to the cities?  I'm really familiar with the GAP trail and towns, but everything east of Cumberland is a bit more vague.  If you went west to east where did you stay in Georgetown that was friendly to bikes?

You'll love it. Go for it! check out the GAP yahoo group here.

We drove to PIT, rode to DC ,then took the Amtrack back to PIT, and then drove home. Both PIT and DC are pretty bike friendly in general, although PIT has A TON of steep hills. It's crazy. being a bike tourist in DC is really nice, especially along the Mall and Capitol Hill. We have bikey-type friends in PIT and DC, so we had bike friendly places to stay, but I'm sure you can find something.

The local economies along the trail are super bike friendly, there's one or two trailside bike shops, mucho camping, BnBs, shuttles, even a snack shop with showers! 

We camped the each night on the trail. It was pretty chill, but free camping along the C&O can bring partiers or long-term type campers. We didn't have any problems, with campsite & water every 5 miles, if we didn't like the site we just kept riding to the next one...

Reply to Discussion

RSS

© 2008-2013   The Chainlink Community, L.L.C. Julie Hochstadter, Director   Powered by

Disclaimer  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service