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cycling trip Great Allegheny Passage & C&O Canal (Pittsburgh to Washington) Cycling Tour Moderate

Dates:10/2 - 1, 2018

(9 days, 9 night, Tues. - Wed.)

Assembly Point: McKeesport, PA

Nearest Airport (start): Pittsburgh International Airport

Nearest Airport (end): Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

(Timberline van shuttle is included from Pittsburgh to McKeesport, PA prior to tour and from Washington, D.C. to the airport following the tour. The van can also return to Pittsburgh via McKeesport after the conclusion of the tour)

Not included: Airline service; Guide Gratuity

Double Bookingt: $TBD/person

Single Booking: $TBD

(includes all lodging, breakfasts and dinners, park entrance fees, support van, leaders, trail maps & narratives)

Roommate Rebatet: $TBD

Meeting time: airport 3 pm, hotel 3:30 pm

Drop off time: 5 pm, DCA airport

Inn Highlights

  • Parker House

After 30 years of planning and years of construction, along with the cooperative, heroic efforts of a committed battalion of volunteers, the final section of the Great Allegheny Passage was completed in late-December, 2006, and opened to public use during the summer of 2007. With its seamless connection to the Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Trail, cyclists can now celebrate and enjoy an incredible 335-mile off-road, traffic-free adventure from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington, D.C. Without a doubt, the Allegheny Passage/C & O Trail ranks as the crown jewel in our nation’s growing network of Rails-to-Trails.

For us, the opportunity is irresistible. For years, we’ve considered the new adventure opportunities in the trans-Appalachian regions to our east, but we’ve always deferred because of reluctance to deal with some of the issues inherent in riding the heavily-traveled roads of the area. In the season ahead, the Allegheny/C&O joins a growing number of rails-to-trails in our program that has included the Katy across Missouri, the Mickelson in South Dakota’s Black Hills, and the Kettle Valley in southern British Columbia. Like our other rails-to-trails tours, we’ll ride a hard-packed crushed limestone and gravel surface best-suited for a hybrid, rather than a skinny-tire road bike.

On our Great Allegheny Passage & C&O Canal (Pittsburgh to Washington) Cycling Tour, we’ll assemble near McKeesport, join the Allegheny Trail early morning and ride to Smithton on Day 1. On Day 2, we’ll join the Youghiogheny River as we ride beyond Falling Waters to Ohiopyle in the heart of the Laurel Highlands. We’re ultimately headed to Confluence on this day, named for the town’s location at the confluence of the Youghiogheny and Casselman Rivers. The excitement builds on Day 3 as we ride from Confluence toward the Allegheny Highlands. We’ll detour around the 800’-long Pinkerton Tunnel, which remains closed because of extensive freeze damage, and then cross the 100’-high Salisbury Trestle that spans the Casselman Valley. Meyersdale offers a good opportunity for lunch before we begin our climb to the Eastern Continental Divide, separating waters flowing to the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. The Divide also marks the high point on the Allegheny Passage. Lurking 1-1/2 miles beyond the Divide is the Big Savage Tunnel, a 3300-foot, illuminate course cut through the heart of Big Savage Mountain. The views of the surrounding Allegheny Highlands are spectacular as we emerge from the tunnel and launch into a long downhill beyond the Mason-Dixon Line to Cumberland, MD.

Cumberland, for us, marks the end of the Great Allegheny Passage and the beginning of the C&O Trail. The C&O, for most of its 184-mile length, follows the north bank of the Potomac River. Built between 1828 and 1850, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal operated sporadically until 1924. The canal lapsed into inactivity and proposals to convert the towpath into a highway were seriously considered. Led by the efforts of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas to preserve this national treasure, the canal’s towpath achieved protection as a national historical park in 1971.Early morning of Day 4, we’re back on the trail as we set out from the Western Maryland

Scenic Rail Station in Cumberland. We’ll ride east through the Maryland countryside into West Virginia and then plunge into the darkness of the 3100-foot Paw Paw Tunnel. A light is essential through the tunnel. Another viable option is a half-mile walk to the light at the end of the tunnel. The landscape beyond the tunnel is rugged, remote and stunningly beautiful. We’re headed for Hancock on this night, a town that was a major inland port during the canal’s heyday. We’re off to Fort Frederick early on Day 5. Built in 1756 to defend Maryland’s western frontier during the French and Indian War, the fort today is preserved and remembered as a state park. It’s on to the quintessential canal town of Williamsport, where we’ll spend the evening.

Day 6, we’ll leave the C&O Trail and detour to the National Battlefield at Antietam. We’ll walk the grounds of this storied Civil War landmark and later return to the trail and ride on to historic Harpers Ferry, at the junction of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. Day 7, we’ll ride through Great Falls Park, marking the site of what once posed the most formidable obstacle to navigation on the Potomac. Our overnight destination is the Georgetown district of Washington at trail’s end. The history that surrounds us in our nation’s capital is overpowering---so much so that we need to linger one additional day. And what better way to spend this final day than a ride to the historic home of George Washington along the 18-mile paved bike trail to Mount Vernon.

Itinerary

Day 1 assemble, bike fitting, orientation dinner  
Day 2 Boston, (Pa)--Perryopolis. 26 miles
Day 3 Perryopolis - Confluence 40 miles
Day 4 Confluence—Rockwood—Mason-Dixon Line—Beginning of the C & O Trail-- Potomac River--Cumberland, MD 62 miles
Day 5 Cumberland—Paw Paw Tunnel—Little Orleans—Hancock. 61 miles
Day 6 Hancock—Fort Frederick State Park—Antietam National Battlefield--.Sharpsburg, MD 50 miles
Day 7 Sharpsburg, MD—Harpers Ferry, WV---White’s Ferry--Leesburg, VA 42 miles
Day 8 Leesburg, VA—Great Falls Park—Georgetown. 35 miles
Day 9 Georgetown—Mount Vernon Trail—Mount Vernon—Georgetown.Tour Concludes 36 miles

Total Cycling Mileage — 356

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Routes, mileage and accommodations are subject to change due to safety, road/trail conditions, weather and availability.