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Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Montgomery County, PA
Re: Bicycle/Camping C&O canal trail
That's a fantastic bike trail.
I agree with everything Bluetick says.
I've done parts of it twice now, both with my eldest son who was a teenager at the time.
The first time we started at Harpers Ferry.
Rode the 60 some miles to D.C. Stayed in a hotel and spent the next day at the Smithsonian. Then rode back to Harpers Ferry, but broke the return trip in half and stayed in Leesburg. (Took the Whites Ferry boat across the river to get there)
The second trip we camped along the way.
Started in Cumberland. I left my car with a cycling outfitter there.
I broke the trip up into roughly 30 mile segments.
First day we did 30 miles in the afternoon and camped.
Next day, 30 miles in the morning with a long break at midday,
then 30 miles in the afternoon and camped.
Same thing the next day. Then the final morning we did 30 miles into D.C.
The outfitter delivered my car to the hotel.
We each had a hard tail mountain bike set up with panniers.
I also pulled a single wheel trailer.
The trail at the time was rough in a lot of places until we got close to D.C. Perfectly ridable, just not paved so there were a lot of places where the trail becomes one narrow worn down track. I don't know if they've improved it. If the conditions are the same I would not recommend riding it with a road bike or touring bike. A mountain bike or cross bike will work the best. If you do go with a road or touring bike, I'd put on some wide tires. A single wheel trailer is best. If it hasn't been improved, several sections will be difficult with any kind of two wheel trailer.
Be sure to have a flashlight ready if you're riding the part of the trail that goes through the Paw Paw tunnel. I also brought one duraflame type fire log for each night of camping.
Harpers Ferry is a great place to spend some time. Lots of places with good food there.
In addition to the tire patch kit and pump, I brought new tubes for the bikes as well as the trailer. Saves a lot of time if you're trying to make a spot by a certain time and get a flat. For some reason, I got a lot of flats with the trailer on that trip.