Gary's Trip Tips and Suggestions


A lot of my tips and suggestions will be the same as what the Park Service tells you.

The C&O Canal Towpath can be done in any number of days. Yes, the whole thing has been done in one day. I think it was 18 hours to be exact. You have to decide whether your trip is going to be just a ride, a camping trip, an adventure, a sight seeing tour, hotel hopping ride, birdwatching trip, looking for wildlife trip, picture taking trip, or whatever. What I'm getting at is there is something for just about everyone along the canal. There is even at least one company that gives llama rides on the towpath!

I strongly suggest that if you plan to do the trip, buy a book on the history of the canal towpath. It explains a lot of the things you see along the way and enhances your trip. If your not into camping, there is a book out there that explains the spots that you can stay in motels. It also list spots near the canal that you can eat. The book I have on that subject is called "A Guide to Food and Lodging Along the C & O Canal" and is put out by the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Association.

Make sure you do some riding BEFORE you do a trip on the canal. In the weeks prior to your trip, ride your bike to build up the muscles that you are going to use. Especially the area around your sit bones! As was told to me about my first trip, if you are use to riding 20 - 30 miles of paved trails with rolling hills once or twice a week, then you will have NO problem riding 40 - 50 miles on the towpath. Remember, the towpath is basically level except for any detours and at the locks which are very short 6 to 8 foot climbs or drops.

There are many thoughts as to whether to go "UP" or "DOWN" the Canal. It really depends on how you plan to get to the start, AND how you plan to get home from the finish.

Stop by Kathy Bilton's page on the C & O Canal. She has links to many different sources of information about the canal.


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Last updated by Gary Mumma on 8/13/2004