C&O Canal Bicycle Tour — Easy cycling- we ride the trail with you!

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October is fall foliage time — ride some of the Allegheny Passage to Cumberland! For nearly a century the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was the lifeline for communities and businesses along its route from Washington D.C. to Cumberland, MD. Hundreds of original structures, including locks, lockhouses, and aqueducts, serve as reminders of the canal's role as a transportation system during the Canal Era

Day 1: Mason Dixon Line-Cumberland (24 miles)

Our tour starts Sunday morning at the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center just 14 miles north of Washington, D.C.

We'll meet at 9 a.m. and board our motorcoach to Deal, PA near the Eastern Continental Divide. Here we'll unload bikes and set out on a downhill pedal along the Allegheny Passage and over the Mason Dixon Line towards Frostburg, MD.

At Frostburg, we stop at the train depot for a snack or lunch, see the great Scenic train as it pulls into town, and hop back on our bikes to enjoy another 16 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 explore the restored downtown and Canal Place. That evening we enjoy a Welcome Dinner and lodging at the beautiful Holiday Inn.

Day 2: Little Orleans

Monday (43 miles) we wake to breakfast at the hotel and an early start on the first leg of our trip. At the midway point in Old Town, we'll rest at the canal park and enjoy a catered lunch by the lock.

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.

Day 3: Hancock

Day three 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.

We'll enjoy a shorter 25 miles this day to Hancock, Maryland.

This allows us time to take the beautiful yet hilly back road route or be shuttled by van to visit nearby Berkeley Springs just 4 miles away. Here you can visit quaint shops and enjoy the famous warm mineral baths at the municipal springs in the town park.

Tuesday evening's dinner will be enjoyed at Hancock's popular Park N Dine Restaurant where we enjoy a visit by town historian, Marian Golden.

Day 4: Williamsport

Wednesday (30 miles) we depart Hancock enjoying the newly paved Maryland Heritage Rail Trail.

After 10 miles we exit to a quiet one mile- 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.

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 fourth day at the newly remodeled Red Roof Inn and a catered meal in Williamsport Byron Park at the Old Stone House.

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.

Day 5: Harper's Ferry

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 lodging at the Cliffside/Quality Inn.

Day 6: Great Falls

On Day Six, 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 lunch at the little store on the Potomac at White's Ferry.

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

  • Five nights lodging at inns and hotels
  • Five wonderful breakfasts and dinners, welcome picnic and snack stops
  • Motorcoach for cyclists and bicycles to the ride start
  • SAG for luggage transport and route assistance
  • On canal ride leaders
  • Meetings with park rangers and historic walking tours
  • Ride packet with cue sheets, maps & items of interest

Trip Difficulty

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.

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 contact us 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.