Bike a large portion of the canal when I was a kid. Actually... a good bit as an adult.
You will have a blast!
Mostly a good dirt / gravel path. Mostly flat or very slight grade.
At times there are towns close that have stores or other services.
Camping is available along the tow path. See the NPS site for details and locations. Water is available from pumps occasionally. Plan on carrying water, but pump locations are detailed on NPS maps.
Many places to get to the river for a swim or for fishing. A Maryland fishing license is required. They offer a tourist X # day license so it can save a few dollars. Buy and print it online. No display requirement.
Small mouth fishing is good. Depending on the section, you can wade the river only going waist high. The ripples are best. Typical baits or plastics. Cat fishing is good as well.
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.
Pack a rod, buy a tourist license and fish the ripples. Sharpsburg area is good, as are several areas around Williamsport and westward. Small mouth - pumpkinseed tubes... and similar colors. You can walk across the roiver in many places. Sneakers and shorts are best outer wear.
A few friends and I are thinking about doing this next summer. We will probably hitch a ride out to Pittsburgh with his son on his way back to Pitt, and then take the train back to Philly after a night or so in DC.
Post some pics of your ride, plus some must haves/wish you hads after you finish if you can!
Thanks for all the feed back I'm really pumped up about this trip. Just ordered a single well cart. Planning 2 or 3 nights 50 miles riding a day with Hammock Hanging at night . I'm going to check out the map for all the points of interest mentioned.
Thanks again. I'll post how it goes
Last week I found time to solo part of the C&O canal trail. I started Fri at Point of Rocks and finished Sunday at Little Orleans. It was a 100 mile trip. Weather wise it was a mix bag ending with Sunday being the best way a camping should end with sun and 70 degrees. I didn't do much site seeing due to the weather. Saturday I spent half the day riding in the rain. At about the 60 mile mark there was a 6 mile detour due to the trail under construction. Fun thing, it was mentioned about flats. I was within 1 mile of Little Orleans road when I got a flat. I had to laugh remembering flats being mentioned on a earlier post. Over all it was a great trip. The link is a pic of my setup
Its a BOB trailer want a be. Price was right and I wasn't planning on any rough off roads. My load was about 50 lbs. It worked better than I expected. I trained 2 weeks prior with a 20 lb sand bag,not enough!! The 50 lb load made me nerves but I pulled it pretty easy. The load was a little top heavy and it wanted to tip when I got off the bike so I put a kick stand on the bike. If you don't have 3or4 hundred dollars I would recommend this trailer.The link for the trailer is below. http://www.frugah.com/Bicycle-Storage-Cargo-Carrier-Trailer-p/5663-1336.htm