Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) —
C&O Canal Bicycle Tour — 8 days!

$1,175 per person

October 21-28, 2012-Peak Foliage!

Extra trip: We are also running a Great Allegheny Passage October 13-20, 2012.

October is fall foliage time — enjoy it with us on our adventure of GAP and the C and O! Cycle with us as we join two beautiful trail adventures of history and landscaped beauty through the Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia countrysides!

One of Bicycling Mag's “Trips We Love” — our C&O Canal trip was honored in the December 2008 issue of Bicycling Magazine as one of "Fifteen Trips We Love."

Trip Itinerary

Shuttle from Great Falls to McKeesport, Pa (25 mile warm-up)

Our tour starts Sunday when we meet at 8:30 a.m. at the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center just 14 miles north of Washington, D.C., load our bikes on a truck and board our motorcoach headed for McKeesport, PA at the start of the Great Allegheny Passage.

On our (restroom equipped) bus ride we'll have time for a welcome meeting/orientation, look over our ride packets and maps, and enjoy lunch onboard.

Upon arrival in McKeesport, we'll unpack bikes and start pedaling on flat-easy terrain. We stop in about 15 miles to enjoy a peek at West Newton — one of the "trail towns" and a historic community persuing exciting renovations.

Just a few miles later at the Cedar Creek Park Trailhead, we'll take our exit from a long and fulfilling day and head for our comfy stay at the Comfort Inn-Belle Vernon and a group welcome dinner.

Uniontown via Ohiopyle & Falling Water (37 miles)

After breakfast we hit the trail again — following the banks of the rugged Youghiogheny River — its beauty renowned in the East.

We continue our adventure pedaling an easy cadence and taking in beautiful countryside when we reach the historic town of Connelsville for our lunch break. In the early 18th century European traders found great wealth in the fur trade here and later other natural resources — iron ore and coal would lay foundation for the prosperity of the iron and steel industry.

We hope to make a visit to the Gibson House — the future home of the Connelsville Historical Society.

More stretches of woodland cycling are enjoyed until we arrive at Ohiopyle — located at the confluence of the slopes of the Laurel Ridge and the "white frothy water" — the Indian meaning of Ohiopyle. Here we'll park our bikes and be shuttled for our visit to Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece — Falling Water.

After our visit our shuttle will continue on to the Christian Klay Winery for a visit to the vineyard and yummy winetasting before heading for our destination for the night, Uniontown- located on the historic National Road.

Meyersdale (40 miles)

We rise early for a hearty buffet breakfast and a quick shuttle back to the trail. Following the breathtaking Casselman River Valley landscapes we find the charming trail town of Confluence. The locals boast that "the mountains touch the rivers" here. We'll take a break to explore this quaint community before heading back onto the trail.

At Mile Marker 43 we reach the town of Rockwood and it's time for lunch.

Once a thriving rail town when locomotives came steaming through town, now Rockwood offers us a hospitable respite along the trail. We'll stop by the Mill Shop Coffee Shop and bakery housed in a lovingly restored turn-of-the-century building that boasts a delightful vintage train circling an 80-foot track suspended from the ceiling.

As we approach our day's destination- Meyersdale — we partake of some of the most beautiful scenery of the GAP — one of our favorites being the 1900 ft. Salisbury Viaduct.

We'll enjoy lodging at the Levi Deal Mansion and Morguen Toole where we'll also feast on a scrumptious buffet in the Inn's restaurant.

Cumberland (32 miles)

We leave Meyersdale and start to climb — very slowly and gradually — to the highest point on the passage. At Milemarker 30 we cross the thrilling Keystone Viaduct and shortly therafter we are at the Eastern Continental Divide.

From this point it's an exhillarating 10 mile downhill pedal along the trail and over the Mason Dixon Line towards Frostburg, MD.

At Frostburg, we stop at the train depot for a snack or lunch, behold the famous Western Maryland train as it pulls into town, and hop back on our bikes to enjoy another 14 miles downhill along the new Allegany Passage Trail connector into downtown Cumberland — the terminus of the C&O Canal.

We'll take time for a visit with a NPS Ranger and town walk with a guide to explore the restored downtown and Canal Place. That evening we enjoy a delicious dinner and lodging at the beautiful Holiday Inn.

Little Orleans (43 miles)

Day Five- we wake to breakfast at the hotel and an early start on the first leg of our trip on the historic C and O Canal. At the midway point in Old Town, we'll rest at the canal park and enjoy a catered lunch by the lock.

The mile-long Paw Paw tunnel

The half mile-long Paw Paw tunnel.

Following the river, the towpath follows a zigzag route for another 10 miles until the famous Paw Paw Tunnel.

We finish our day at Fifteen Mile Creek in Little Orleans. Some of the more enthusiastic riders may opt to pedal the moderate 8 miles uphill, while others will be shuttled at the exit of the canal to a wonderful buffet dinner created by our hosts at the lovely Town Hill Bed and Breakfast.

We'll continue the evening watching the sunset atop the Green Ridge State Forest and enjoy our wonderful accommodations.

Hancock-Williamsport (40 miles)

Day six starts off with a bountiful breakfast and beautiful pedal down the hill (or shuttle) to the canal where we'll resume south towards the once bustling canal town of Hancock, MD.

Suzie and Roger … bend over backwards to make sure that everyone is having a good time.

~ Lynn Reed

In 6 miles we'll be joining up with the new Western Maryland Rail Trail-an asphalt paved path reclaimed from the former Western Maryland Railroad providing a scenic and fast 14 miles into lovely Hancock.

Here we'll stop by our friend Dennis Hudson's Bike Shop and then on to a tasty lunch at a nearby restaurant.

We depart Hancock enjoying the final 10 miles on the rail trail and exit — for a quick one mile pedal on road -to the entrance of Fort Frederick State Park. Here we'll break for refreshments and tour the fort guided by our host dressed in period attire from the French and Indian War.

Fort Frederick Walking Tour

Guide in period dress at Fort Frederick

Pedaling through North Mountain and sites as Four Locks and Dam No. 5, we arrive at Cushwa Basin and Williamsport, MD.

Our group will meet with the Park Ranger and learn fascinating history about the Williamsport area (designated to be our Nation's first capital) and life on the canal.

We end our day at the newly remodeled Red Roof Inn, delicioius catered meal in Williamsport Byron Park and tour of the town Museum by Williamsport's Mayor.

One of the highlights of our trip is a visit by Rick Garland of "Oh be Joyful", who entertains us with his historical story telling and piano serenade.

Harper's Ferry

We rise Saturday morning to a hearty breakfast and a full day of bicycle touring towards Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Historical Entertainment in Harper's Ferry

Rick Garland serenades our group with fun historical songs

Our favored route is the 35 mile road cycle along quiet rolling backroads to visit historic Antietam Battlefield and then lunch in lovely Shepherdstown, W. Va.

Other cyclists can opt to take the towpath all the way to Harper's Ferry for a 44 mile meandering route along the river.

Whatever option is chosen, we'll pass many wonderful sights and enjoy a mid-way visit to historic Shepherdstown for lunch with Suzie and Roger.

Set beautifully on the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, and impacted by so many events of our country's past, Harper's Ferry will offer hours of wonderful sightseeing. Our final evening will be celebrated with a bountiful buffet, entertainment and great lodging at the Cliffside-Quality Inn.

Beyond the obvious, good food, good company and fantastic organization, there was something more to the trip that made it special. It was the accomplishment.

~ Mal and Janice Dougherty, Massachusetts

Great Falls

On Day eight, we start bright and early with a buffet breakfast in the Cliffside restaurant and pedal back to the towpath. Our final day's route travels 45 miles — passing the towns of Brunswick and Point of Rocks.

Midway, we'll break for picnic lunch by Suzie at the White's Ferry.

Just 15 miles through Besher Management area, Seneca and then Pennyfield and Swains Lock to a great finish at Great Falls Tavern.

Enjoy a wonderful photo travelog from our 2010 cyclist, Jack Sanders, on Facebook.

Trip Difficulty

The trail is an idyllic, crowd-free ride

The trail is an idyllic, crowd-free ride.

The Great Allegheny Passage surface is made of packed crushed limestone surface and provides a smooth easy ride. As it was built on abandoned railroad beds it is nearly level. We will be traveling west to east and experience an average 1% slow/gradual upgrade.

The C&O towpath is flat and "very rustic" — most of the trail is hard-packed dirt with some areas mixed with small stones for traction. We'll be dropping 625' in elevation from near the Continental Divide all the way to our destination in Great Falls.

On several days we offer an option to leave the towpath to visit historic destinations, such as Antietam Battlefield, which requires cycling on public roadways. We are careful to select the safest and most scenic routes possible.

This trip is best suited for a cyclist with some experience or other active people who are willing to train to accomplish this 30-40 mile/day ride. Please note that even though the C and O Canal towpath is flat, the surface is hard packed and rustic in nature thus takes more effort and cycling ability than a paved surface.

Cyclists will be most comfortable and safe cycling a touring/hybrid bicycle with at least a 32-35mm tire with good tread.

Suzie and Roger are on route each day as ride leaders and support.

Getting There

Traveling by auto, your best driving directions are accessible through MapQuest.

If you plan to fly to the trip start, you will be choosing Reagan National Airport — the closest choice with excellent shuttle and metro services to the Great Falls area. Our trip starts early on Sunday morning, and we advise those that fly into Washington, D.C. or who plan to sightsee the Nation's Capitol to arrive a day or two ahead.

We have blocked a group of rooms at the lovely Comfort Inn, Gaithersburg, which is located near the Metro Station to Washington, D.C. We are happy to help you plan a visit to the Nation's Capitol to enhance your tour experience. In addition, we can provide a complimentary shuttle to Great Falls Tavern from the Comfort Inn hotel.

Additional Information

Please visit our Trip Information page for general trip information and registration information.

Upon registration we will send you a Welcome Letter full of pre-trip details including how to get you and bike to the trip start, bike rentals, suggestions on packing, trip area and contact information, cycling and travel websites to enhance your trip experience, etc.

We are always happy to receive your e-mails or calls if you have any questions!