Yesterday Rach and I successfully completed biking the whole Chesapeake & Ohio Canal towpath from D.C. to Cumberland, MD (184.5 miles). It took us five days, with a 36 mile day, 40 mile day, 30 mile day, 50 mile day and a 35 mile day. I think coming onto the trail we overestimated it quality. The whole thing is made of crushed rock/mud/stone/tree roots. Some parts were really great but some were extremely bad and it definitely slowed us down and was physically demanding. Around Hancock, MD we were given a break and able to bike on the Western Maryland Rail Trail, which is a 22-mile paved path that runs parallel with the towpath. Also we experienced a 6-mile detour through some hilly country roads (yeah that did kill our legs a little bit).
When we hit the 100 mile mark from the Green Vine Co-op
At one point we were on the Western Maryland Rail Tail and saw the canal to our left and Route 70 on our right, so you could see the progression from boat to train to car. It was kind of funny though seeing how the two former ones actually took us full circle back to walking and biking. Look for more about this in another post :)
The towpath in general was amazing because of the view it gave us of nature. For the most part in between towns we did not see another soul on the path for miles and miles The towns were Point of Rocks, MD, Harpers Ferry, WV, Shepherdstown, WV, Williamsport, MD, Hancock, MD (by far the best!!), Paw Paw, WV (got to go through a 3000+ tunnel), Oldtown, MD and then Cumberland, MD. With FREE campsites every 5-10 miles we always had a place to stay along the way. We ended up needing to stop in towns a lot not only for breaks but to pick up more water because unfortunately all the water pumps at every campsite were not on and will not be on until April 15th.
Arriving into Cumberland, MD
We did however experience some extreme weather from cold rain to sunny 40s and 50s, to a hot sunny day in the upper 70s and a night filled with rain (yes our $30 tent is holding up quite well!).
When we rolled up to Cumberland we were dirty and tired and stopped at the first hotel we saw off the path. It felt great to shower and rest for a little bit. Both of us have never biked this much in 5 straight days. We are going to be checking out of this hotel this morning and then go and stay with some friends of Rachael's. We will be sticking around in Cumberland until Friday morning so if you are around and want to hang out give me a shout!
I'm super excited to ride up to Pittsburgh because there is a another trail that is about 150 miles all the way up to Pittsburgh and it's PAVED!! It sounds like it will be much better on my bony butt. It's called the Great Allegheny Passage and it's part of the rails to trails program. Looks like the trail is going to be really up hill for the first 26 miles to get to the top of the Appalachian mountains but then it is downhill the rest of the way, check it out:
Now it's time to rest up, clean up and catch up with the world!!