While the entire trip is a wonderful experience, it’s perfectly all right to ride a shorter portion. You might do this because you have only a weekend or a long weekend rather than a week, because you aren’t sure about embarking on a long bike trip, or simply because that’s all you want to do. You can plan your own trips using the trail mileage table and list of lodging or camping. Current information on services near the trail is at https://gaptrail.org/. As examples to get you started, here are a few short trips that you may enjoy.
(2 to 4 days, B&B, 30 miles per day)
Park at the Connellsville trailhead (GAP 89) and load lunch and your change of clothes on your bikes. Ride southward. Eat lunch at the Yough River overlook (GAP 79). Have ice cream at Ohiopyle (GAP 72). Continue to Confluence (GAP 62), taking the first bridge across the Youghiogheny River. Turn left after crossing the river and follow the road 4 blocks to River’s Edge B&B. Have dinner at River’s Edge and stay there or in one of the other nearby B&Bs overnight. Return the next day by retracing your steps.
To make this a 3-day weekend, reserve your room in Confluence for 2 nights and ride out toward Rockwood (GAP 43) and back to Confluence on the second day; you can make this day as long or as short as you wish. Return to Connellsville on the third day.
To make this a 4-day weekend, reserve your room in Confluence for the first and third nights and reserve a room in Meyersdale (GAP 32) for the second night.
(2 days, B&B, 31 miles per day)
Park at the Rockwood trailhead (GAP 43) and load lunch and your change of clothes on your bikes. Ride southward. Eat lunch at the South end of the Savage Tunnel overlooking the Cumberland Narrows (GAP 22). Continue to Frostburg, taking the switch backs up to the railroad station and on into town. Have dinner at Tombstone Cafe and stay overnight at Trail Inn or Failinger's Hotel Gunter. Return the next day by retracing your steps. This trip can be shortened by starting at Garrett (GAP 36) or Meyersdale (GAP 32) or lengthened by starting at Markleton (GAP 50) or Harnedsville (GAP 59) or by staying in Cumberland (GAP 0).
(2 days, camping, 29 miles per day)
Park at the Boston trailhead (GAP 128) and load your camping gear on your bikes. Ride southward, with the river on your left. Pack a picnic lunch or eat in West Newton (GAP 114). Camp at Round Bottom Campground beside the trail (GAP 100). Return to Boston the next day.
(3 days, camping or B&B/motel, 20-30 miles per day)
Take enough people to justify two cars. Meet in Cumberland (C&O 184.5) and unload your bikes and gear. Drive both cars to Hancock, 40 miles on I68. Leave one car at the C&O visitor center at the east end of town and bring both drivers back in the other car.
For indoor lodging, spend the first night in Paw Paw and the second night at the Super 8 in Hancock. The third day, ride down the Western MD Rail-Trail to Ernstville Rd, cross over to the towpath, and return to Hancock (and your car) on the towpath.
For a camping trip, set out and camp wherever you are when it’s time to stop, probably at the Town Creek (C&O 162.1) or Purslane Run (C&O 157.4) hiker-biker. The second day, camp wherever you are when it’s time to stop – probably Indigo Neck (C&O 139.2), Cacapon Jct (C&O 133.6), or White Rock (C&O 126.4) hiker-biker. The third day, leave your camping gear in the car as you go by, continue on the Western Maryland Rail Trail, and return on the towpath to make a full day.
(2 or 3 days, B&B/hotel, 40-45 miles per day)
Friday evening, drive to Leesburg VA (4-5 hours drive from Pittsburgh but less than an hour from DC) and check into your B&B (for example, Norris House) or motel (for example, Days Inn). Saturday morning pack a change of clothes on your bike, ride south a few blocks to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail and turn left (east). Follow the W&OD about 35 miles to its end in Shirlington, then pick your way 3-4 blocks around city streets to the bike/ped bridge over the highway. On the other side of the bridge follow city streets to pick up Four-Mile Run Trail to the Potomac River and turn left on Mt Vernon Trail. The Washington DC Regional Bike Map will be very helpful for finding these trail connections.
Take the Mt Vernon Trail to the Arlington Memorial Bridge and cross the Potomac River. If you’re staying at a hotel in Georgetown (for example, The Latham or Georgetown Inn), follow the waterfront left (upstream) past Thompson Boat Center and turn left on the C&O Canal Towpath in Georgetown, near your hotel. If you’re staying at the Washington Hostel, after crossing the Arlington Memorial Bridge go past the Lincoln Memorial and down The Mall to 12th St, then go up 12th St 7 blocks to K St, then right a block to the Hostel.
Sunday morning return to the C&O Canal Towpath (via K and M Sts if you stay at the Hostel) and head out the towpath. Go out the towpath to Whites Ferry (C&O 35.5) and take the ferry across the Potomac River. Climb the hill and turn left on US15 (busy traffic, alas). Follow US15, then Business US15 into Leesburg to retrieve your car.
For a three-day trip, spend Sunday visiting the memorials in Washington or ride down the Mt Vernon Trail 20 miles to (where else?) Mt Vernon and back. Then return to Leesburg on Monday.
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