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C&O Canal Trail & Great Allegheny Passage Comments
C&O closures

Three of us have plotted out a bike trip next week on the C&O, making reservations at various B&Bs along the way. We'll be carrying our gear with us. We're pretty much locked into the itinerary we have mapped out. I'm getting nervous about this, though, after hearing about various closures on the C&O. How difficult is it to find alternative routes around the closures? And what is the best site to check for the most up-to-date alerts about what's closed where? FYI - We're pretty comfortable riding on streets with cars, but we don't want to do anything stupid either. Thanks!
posted Jun 7 2018 10:45AM - ChicagoCyclists, Chicago

I began the c&o onmonday june 4 the day after the great deluge hit the area.cumberland topaw paw was muddy but doable.south of the tunnel to williamsport was a nightmare of downed trees and ankle deep mud.the potomic was receeding but had been at least 3 ft deep over the towpath in places.i carried my bike over,around and through about 30 trees before mileposr 99.gave up at williamsport and took to the backroads of western md. To point of rocks where i crossed the river on rt 15 bridge and followed back roads to leesburg where i will plck up the GW old dominion/eustice trail to DC tomorrow.towpath looks to me like it will a very long time to fix to decent riding condition.CR
posted Jun 7 2018 8:40PM - Clyderose, Beckley wv

Heading south from Cumberland Wed the 6th recommend taking The Western Maryland Rail Trail south of LilOrleans to Handcock. And avoiding the trail from the 90MM to the High Water Detour (87MM). The NPS detour will take you into a couple miles of thick mud MM 87-90. Why can't MPS post more detailed information.
posted Jun 8 2018 6:43AM - Carrie, Alexandria

Thanks for the advice!
posted Jun 8 2018 9:33AM - ChicagoCyclists, Chicago

We road from Cumberland to Hancock today and took the Western MD Rail Trail at MM 140 - we heard the towpath was a mess.
We are heading to Harpers Ferry tomorrow and are a bit concerned about the trail conditions. When you mentioned to avoid the trail between 90MM & 87MM - how do you do that? Is there a road that can be taken to bypass?
Thanks much
posted Jun 8 2018 6:43PM - Renee Skafte, Kensington MD

Please continue to post conditions on your ride to Harpers Ferry and DC. We will be starting the ride down from Pitt on Monday.
posted Jun 9 2018 5:49PM - Anonymous, Cary, NC

Friday June 8th we biked from Nolands Ferry MM44 to Edwards Ferry MM31 thru mud. My bike could make it but my daughter's had to be pushed thru it. From Edwards Ferry to Georgetown no mud, just some loose gravel,and the trail was clear. I heard some bikers were going thru Virginia to Whites Ferry into Maryland.
posted Jun 10 2018 11:42AM - Carrie, Alexandria

Also heard the trail was thick mud and down trees from MM45 to Harper's Ferry.
posted Jun 10 2018 11:47AM - Carrie, Alexandria

We saw a lot of mud and a couple dozen down trees between MM 100 and 150 Friday and Saturday. It was all passable, but slow.

There was more rain in the area this weekend.
posted Jun 11 2018 3:48AM - Frank

I started riding on Saturday from Pittsburgh and am currently in Hancock. Here are my $.02.

The GAP is fine - no problems whatsoever.

There is some mud south of Cumberland to Paw Paw. It is only a minor nuisance and very rideable

About 10-15 miles north of Hancock, the trail becomes not rideable. There are many fallen trees, requiring constant portaging, I did not realize until too late that the county has a parallel asphalt path about 50’ higher that is smooth sailing. I was unable to connect to it until about 6 miles from town. Do not make the same message stake as me and get off the C&O for this lovely county trail.

As others have mentioned here in this forum as well as those of us currently in Hancock tonight, the supposedly remains a nasty flood in Williamsport. including a nice diversion into Antietam for those interested). I plan to skip Harper’s Ferry land go into Shepherdstown (about 4 mikes west of Sharpsburg and adjacent to the C&O) as the final resting spot - it’s a funky little college/ artsy town for those who do not know this community.
posted Jun 18 2018 11:45PM - Matt B, WASHINGTON, DC

I just finished riding from Pittsburgh to DC on the GAP and C&O trails. We left Pittsburgh on June 10 and reached Georgetown on June 15. It rained heavily during several nights while we were out, but not while we were riding during the days. Both trails were very rideable in MOST sections but the bad portions are terrible to un-rideable. This was the third time we have ridden the GAP-C&O and by far the most difficult due to trail conditions. It is hard to get good information about trail conditions, from the park service or this website.

We encountered a large mudslide on the GAP about MP 100, and apparently another one happened around MP 90 after we passed through. This forced us to detour onto very hilly roads for about 10-15 miles. The rest of the GAP was fine, but I don’t know how long it will take to clear the mudslides (and perhaps they are already fixed).

We hired a shuttle to carry us from Cumberland to Hancock after talking to other cyclists who had ridden or attempted to ride that section. We were told that was the worst section of the entire trail, with thick mud and many downed trees blocking the trail. Be aware that the Western MD rail trail north of Hancock has been closed due to mudslides and downed trees. The WMD south of Hancock is fine, as well as the section of the C&O that parallels it.

We started encountering mud and downed trees about halfway from Hancock to Williamsport but NPS crews were clearing trees the day we came through (6/14). The trail grew progressively worse as we rode from Williamsport to Harpers Ferry, and that was our toughest and longest day (68 miles). We encountered numerous sections with thick slimy mud and downed trees. The mud was difficult to ride through and quickly clogged our fenders. We had to stop and unclog our fenders numerous times to be able to even move. We also had to lift our bikes over many large trees. The worst section was just below Dam 4, where the road detour rejoins the trail. I can’t imagine how how bad the trail must be in the section bypassed by the detour where the trail is closed. When we got to Harpers Ferry our B&B had a hose, so we spent 30 minutes cleaning the mud off our bikes, which were nearly in-rideable. By the time we finished cleaning our bikes and taking showers, all of the restaurants were closed except for one.

The next day, and our final one, the B&B owner generously offered to shuttle us to Point of Rocks because the NPS had closed the trail between Harpers Ferry and Brunswick. Apparently the roads in that section are dangerous to ride on and it’s not recommended. From Point of Rocks to Seneca we encountered several sections with thick mud and many downed trees but it wasn’t as bad as it was south of Williamsport. The mud went away as we approached Great Falls, but there are many spots where flood waters eroded the trail and left potholes, ruts and rocky areas. It is rideable but you need to be cautious and alert.

We ended up the week with 330 miles of riding, about 70 miles less than previous trips. I won’t ride the C&O trail again if there has been recent heavy rains or forecasts are calling for it. Riding through that mud was one of my most unpleasant cycling experiences ever, and I’ve been riding for 40+ years. I hope that I never ride in such conditions again.

posted Jun 19 2018 6:27AM - Tom, Raleigh NC


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