C&O Canal Towpath Day 9

It was nice to sleep in a bed again. I slept for over ten hours! We didn’t have much to do to get ready and Jon wanted to be in DC early to catch his train home so we were on the way early again.

They must have both been eager to finish the trail because they were riding fast. Normally, I’d just let them get ahead of me, but there were lots of people out again and it’s easier to pass in a group so I rode hard enough to keep up.

Once we rode into Washington DC, we did lose the trail at one point because we missed the bridge where it crossed to the other side of the canal. It wasn’t long before we realized that though, so it was easy to backtrack.

Milepost 0 is behind a boathouse, and it was hopping when we got there. Lots of crew teams were out walking around, carrying giants oars and such. Thankfully, I had read a description of how to find the last marker or we may not have happened upon it.

It was 5.9 miles to finish the trail, then another few miles to get to our hotel. We split off from Jon early so he could head to Union Station without worrying about all of us staying together through the crowds out on a beautiful Saturday morning. Luckily, we were able to check in early to our hotel so we didn’t have to walk the bikes around while sightseeing.

Jeremiah had never been to DC before so we walked around the National Mall to see all the monuments. It was tiring, and my camp shoes are not made for walking that far. After seven miles walking, we went back to the hotel and grabbed our bikes to ride another seven miles to see the other end of the mall.

We couldn’t escape the canal even on the Mall; the lockhouse that was originally at the eastern terminus of the canal had been moved there.

Tomorrow morning, we will pick up the one-way minivan rental to drive home.

I have to say, this trip was way better than the Erie Canalway Trail. Barely any road, plentiful camping, and very bike-friendly towns. I only wish there were more trails of this length and quality. Let me know if you know of any!


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  1. Thanks for taking us along!

  2. Thanks for sharing. Your journal has been excellent.

  3. Enjoyed your post. I would suggest checking out the Katy Trail in Missouri. Similar in many ways to the C&O. Can’t comment on camping spots…did a solo supported ride…my wife is a saint.

  4. This was great…fun to see someone else’s experience of my home area & the C&O sections I’ve ridden. I live very near Brunswick and planning my solo GAP/C&O ride for this summer. I’m interested in the logistics of getting to, and starting in, Pittsburgh as well as the ending in G-Town.

    • We used one-way Budget rental vehicles to get to and from the trail. They have locations very close to both ends. We had a minivan on the way to Pittsburgh and were supposed to have a minivan on the way home from DC, but they didn’t have one for us and after much waiting and trying of other vehicles, we took all the wheels off our bikes and fit into a small SUV.

  5. Great blog! I just finished my GAP solo ride and did part of the C&O, just an out and back from Cumberland to Old Town and back to Cumberland. I really want to come back and do the whole shebang next year. I even think i have the same bike—Surly Cross Check in the Gray-Green color. Your photos are great, makes me want to get a better camera!

  6. My partner lives in Harrisburg and I Colorado. We are planning some segments of this very trail in August. It will be warm but I’m doing college coursework now and it is my only break. Thank you so much for your very detailed comments and the great pictures! Keep riding! Keep posting!

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