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Sample Itineraries

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Sample Itineraries

Here are six sample itineraries for the full trip, illustrating both directions and various lodging options: B&Bs, motels, camping, and hostels (low-cost housing for trippers with bunkrooms and shared kitchen facilities and common area). One shows how to make the full trip in four long weekends. More details on places to stay appear here and on the Allegheny Trail Alliance web site at http://www.ATATrail.org/ Use these itineraries as starting points for your own planning. For a list of trail abbreviations see.

The mileages are distance along the trail, not including distance to lodging.

Lightly-supported 11-day B&B/motel trip from Leesburg VA to Washington DC to Pittsburgh PA

This is a slight update of the itinerary of Yockatomac trek ’99, the June 1999 inaugural trip of the Allegheny Trail Alliance. We used a van to carry baggage each day; a volunteer drove the van for the whole trip. The van wasn’t large enough to carry all the riders and bikes, so we selected lodging within easy biking distance of the trail. Several riders wanted to see the Washington and Old Dominion Trail in Virginia, so we started a day early to add the W&OD. You could certainly start in Washington DC instead. This revision reflects the new trail sections since 1999.

Date Segment Lodging Distance
Fri Pittsburgh to Leesburg by car, W&OD Leesburg to Purcellville and
return for those who arrived early
Days Inn, Leesburg VA 24 miles optional
Sat Leesburg to Washington DC via W&OD, 4MiRn & AndBW; MtVer; and C&O Georgetown Inn, Washington DC 44 miles
Sun Washington DC to Leesburg via CapCr, C&O, and Whites Ferry.
Be extremely careful in traffic going to Leesburg
Days Inn, Leesburg VA 36 miles
Mon Leesburg to Shepherdstown via C&O. Be careful in traffic returning from Leesburg Thomas Shepherd Inn, Shepherdstown WV 37 miles
Tue Shepherdstown to Hancock via C&O and WMRT Super 8, Hancock MD 51 miles
Wed Hancock to Paw Paw via C&O Heritage Trail B&B. Paw Paw WV 32 miles
Thu Paw Paw to Cumberland via C&O Inn at Walnut Bottom, Cumberland MD 28 miles
Fri Cumberland to Meyersdale via Western Md Scenic RR and GAP Burgess House, Meyersdale PA 32 miles
Sat Meyersdale to Ohiopyle via GAP Yough Plaza Motel, Ohiopyle PA 42 miles
Sun Ohiopyle to Smithton via GAP Fairway Inn 36 miles
Mon Smithton to McKeesport via GAP, car shuttle to Hazelwood, GAP to Pittsburgh return home 25 miles

Fully-supported 7-day trip from Pittsburgh PA to Washington DC

Let someone else do the driving. Take the train to Pittsburgh PA and home from Washington DC. The train from Philadelphia arrives early afternoon; adjust the first day’s sightseeing for other trains. This includes the classic 3-day C&O trip.

Date Segment Lodging Distance
Sun Amtrak to Pittsburgh, arriving early afternoon. Tour Pittsburgh,
Eliza Furnace Trail to Oakland for overnight
Motel in Oakland 5-15 mi
Mon Get a ride to McKeesport. Bike GAP to Connellsville Melody Motor Lodge 44 miles
Tue Connellsville to Rockwood via GAP Rockwood Trail House B&B 47 miles
Wed Rockwood to Frostburg (29 miles), GAP
or scenic RR to Cumberland (15 Miles)
Inn at Walnut Bottom B&B 28 or 44 miles
Thu Cumberland to Hancock via C&O Super 8 60 miles
Fri Hancock to Harpers Ferry via C&O Comfort Inn or B&B 63 mi
Sat Harpers Ferry to Georgetown via C&O   61 miles

 


Self-contained 8-day camping trip from DC to Pittsburgh

This is a variant of a trip that several of us made in the spring of 2006. We parked in McKeesport and hired an outfitter to drive us to Washington DC. The long day from Cumberland to Confluence reflects the lack of campsites on the stretch.

Date Segment Lodging Distance
Sat Stage shuttle via Cumberland to DC, ride to Horsepen Branch on C&O Horsepen Branch Hiker-Biker C&O 26.0 26 miles
Sun Horsepen Branch to Antietam via C&O Antietam Walk-in C&O 69.4 43 miles
Mon Antietam to North Mountain via C&O North Mtn Hiker-Biker C&O 110.0 41 miles
Tue North Mountain to Stickpile Hill via C&O Stickpile Hill Hiker-Biker C&O 149.4 39 miles
Wed Stickpile Hill to Cumberland via C&O Cumberland YMCA
C&0 184.5, GAP 0
35 miles
Thu Cumberland MD to Frostburg Train (16 miles)
Frostburg to Confluence via GAP (47 mi) – long day!
Yough Dam Outflow Camping GAP 62 47 miles
Fri Confluence to Round Bottom via GAP Round Bottom primitive camp, GAP 99 37 miles
Sat Round Bottom to McKeesport via GAP At home GAP 132 33 miles
 

Self-contained 5- or 10-day motel/hostel trip from Pittsburgh to DC

For a more leisurely trip, this 30-mile/day itinerary uses inexpensive lodging where it can and doesn’t require any support – just pack your clothes on your bike and go. For a fast trip (60 miles/day), use every other stop on this itinerary. This is a natural extension of the popular 3-day, 60-mile/day itinerary for the C&O Canal. For economy, stay at hostels at Meyersdale and Sandy Hook and the bikers bunkhouse in Hancock. To shorten the first day, start at Boston.

Date Segment Lodging 30mpd 60mpd
Sat  McKeesport to Connellsville via GAP Connellsville PA 44 mi

72 mi

Sun Connellsville to Confluence via GAP Confluence PA 28 mi
Mon Confluence to Meyersdale (hostel) via GAP Meyersdale PA 28 mi

60 mi

Tue Meyersdale to Cumberland via GAP Cumberland MD 32 mi
Wed Cumberland to Paw Paw via C&O Paw Paw WV 28 mi

60 mi

Thu Paw Paw to Hancock (bike shop bunkhouse) via C&O Hancock MD 32 mi
Fri Hancock to Williamsport via C&O Williamsport MD 24 mi

63 mi

Sat Williamsport to Harpers Fy/Sandy Hook (hostel) via C&O Sandy Hook MD 39 mi
Sun Sandy Hook to Leesburg via C&O Leesburg VA 25 mi

61 mi

Mon Leesburg to Washington DC via C&O Washington DC 36 mi

 


Lightly-supported 8-day camping trip from DC to Pittsburgh

This trip is similar to the camping trip above, except we used a support van to transport the camping gear, so we used car-accessible camping wherever it’s available (everywhere except Leesburg).

Date Segment Lodging Distance
Sun Washington DC to Leesburg via CapCr, C&O, and Whites Ferry
Be extremely careful in traffic to Leesburg
Days Inn, Leesburg VA (C&O 35.5 + 5 miles) 42 miles
Mon Leesburg VA to Shepherdstown WV via C&O
Be careful in traffic leaving Leesburg
Antietam Walk-in camp, C&O 69.4 + 5 miles) 39 miles
Tue Shepherdstown WV to Hancock MD via C&O and WMRT Ft Frederick SP camp, C&O 112.4 44 miles
Wed Hancock MD to Paw Paw WV via C&O Paw Paw Walk-in camp, C&O 156.2 45 miles
Thu Paw Paw WV to Cumberland MD via C&O Cumberland YMCA
C&O 185, GAP 0
30 miles
Fri Cumberland MD to Frostburg Train (16 miles)
Frostburg to Confluence via GAP (47 mi)
Yough Dam Outflow Camping GAP 62 47 miles
Sat Confluence PA to Cedar Creek Park PA via GAP Cedar Creek camp
 GAP 110
48 miles
Sun Cedar Creek Park PA to McKeesport PA via GAP return home GAP 132 22 miles

 


The whole trail, in easy pieces. Four long weekends with 30-mile days

If you can’t arrange to take a week or so for the trip, you can still see the whole trail in a series of long weekends. Here's one way to do it, with most days in the 25-35 mile range. You can pick up the finished trail in Pittsburgh as a one-day trip.

Trip 1: Downhill on the Great Allegheny Passage: Rockwood PA to McKeesport PA. Use two or more cars. Park one at McKeesport PA the night before you leave or on the first morning. Drive to Rockwood PA and park the others at the trailhead. Spend the first night at Ohiopyle PA and the second at Smithton PA. This gives you daily mileages of 30, 36, and 25 miles, plus a few miles back and forth to your lodging. When you get to McKeesport, use the car you left there to take the drivers of the other cars back to Rockwood.

Trip 2: Through the Mountain: Rockwood, PA to Cumberland MD. Meet at the trailhead in Rockwood MD. Put two changes of clothes on the bike. Spend the first night in Frostburg. In the morning, ride the 15 miles (all down hill) to Cumberland to catch the train at 11:00 to return to Frostburg with your bike. In the afternoon, tour the Thrasher Carriage Museum. Spend the night in Frostburg and return to your car the next day. This gives you daily mileages of 28, 16, and 28 plus a few miles back and forth to your lodging. You will need to reserve space on the train for your bike. Note: The train does not run every day.

Trip 3: Upper C&O Towpath: Cumberland MD to Williamsport MD. Use two or more cars. Meet at the trailhead in Cumberland MD. Drive all the cars to the NPS visitor center in Williamsport, park all but one there, and return to Cumberland in the other. Stay in Paw Paw WV the first night and Hancock MD the second night, giving daily mileages of 28, 32, and 24 miles, plus a few miles back and forth to your lodging. When you get to Williamsport, either retrieve the car you left in Cumberland or cram all your gear into the car(s) you left at Williamsport and take everyone to Cumberland.

Trip 4: Lower C&O Towpath: Williamsport MD to Washington DC. Use two or more cars. It's hard to find good, cheap parking in Washington DC, so position one car somewhere in the Georgetown area. Meet at the NPS visitor center in Williamsport and leave the rest of the cars there. Spend the first night in Harpers Ferry WV and the second near Whites Ferry MD, perhaps in Leesburg VA, giving daily mileages of 39, 25, and 36 miles, plus a few miles back and forth to your lodging. When you get to Georgetown, use the car you left there to take the drivers of the other cars back to Williamsport.

Excursions

You may want to vary your trip by including a detour to an interesting site near the trail, or perhaps a short day and optional excursion, or a rest day with something to do. We can’t provide a complete list, of course. These are among our favorites, and they’re bike-accessible from the trail without additional transportation.

Washington DC (C&O 0): “The Mall” The major historical and monument area, between the Lincoln Memorial and the Capital, is bike-friendly. The Washington and Jefferson Memorials are also nearby, as is one of our favorites, the statue of Albert Einstein on the grounds of the National Academy of Science at 22nd and Constitution. Consider staying an extra day or two in Washington for biking as well as sightseeing. You can take a day trip to Mt Vernon down the Mt Vernon Trail on the Virginia side of the Potomac River or ride a loop up the Capital Crescent and back down Rock Creek (the park road is mostly closed to traffic on Sundays).

White’s Ferry (C&O 35): Ride the only remaining cable ferry on the Potomac.

Rileys Lockhouse Tour (C&O 22.8): On weekend afternoons, Girl Scouts offer tours of the lockhouse.

Point of Rocks MD (C&O 48.2): Visit the historic Point of Rocks RR station.

Harpers Ferry WV (C&O 60.7): Either lock your bike at the foot of the stairs or carry it up, then cross the pedestrian bridge. You come out in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, where you can visit buildings and sites associated with the Civil War. Get more information at http://www.nps.gov/hafe/

Sharpsburg MD (C&O 69.3): Leave the Towpath at Antietam Village and ride up the hill to Antietam Battlefield, site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. Get more information at http://www.nps.gov/anti/

Fort Frederick (C&O 112.4): America's premier stone French & Indian War fort.

Cumberland MD (C&O 184.5): Plan some time to visit the Canal Place restoration and the Western Maryland Scenic RR. Combine the scenic railroad with your trip by riding the train one way between Cumberland and Frostburg. You may take your bike on the train, but reserve space for your bike in advance.

Frostburg MD (GAP 15): Tour the Thrasher Carriage Museum right next door to the railroad station.

Ohiopyle PA (GAP 72): Visit the falls, hike the trails or go whitewater rafting. Two Frank Lloyd Wright houses are nearby, but you'll need a ride to get there.

Pittsburgh PA (GAP 149): Before leaving town, ride the riverfront trails.

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You are visiting Linking Up, copyright © 1999,2002,2007 by Mary Shaw and Roy Weil. We encourage you to link to these pages or print copies for personal use. However, if you want to copy the material for any other use, you must ask us first. The contents of these web pages is also available in a book. See other outdoor publications by the authors.