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Great Allegheny Passage/C&O Canal Towpath

Bike Tour Blueprint

DIFFICULTY

Medium to Hard

MILEAGE

335 Miles

TRAIL SURFACE

Crushed Gravel

SERVICES

Luggage Transfers, Shuttling

LOCATION

Mid-Atlantic - Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia

TRIP ITINERARIES

5, 7, 8, 9, & 10 Days

ACCOMMODATIONS

Hotel, B&B, Camping

BIKE RENTAL

Yes

OVERVIEW

The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) and C&O Canal Towpath combine to create one of the most unforgettable bike trails in the world. For 335 miles you'll ride car-free through forests, farmlands, historic towns, and transportation history. The gentle grade and crushed gravel surface makes biking the GAP/C&O accessible for most cyclists. It's truly the trip of a lifetime!

GET THE BLUEPRINT!

Our guests who purchase the GAP/CO Bike Tour Blueprint receive the following:

  • In-Depth Trail Knowledge
  • Detailed Trip Itineraries
  • Build-it Guide to Reserving Your Trip
  • Digital Route Maps with POIs

MORE INFO

  • Explore small trail towns and historic canal towns as you travel the trail
  • Scenic trail with easy access to lodging and other services
  • Optional trips to Fallingwater, Antietam National Battlefield and more

Included Itineraries:

B&B/Hotel Stays

We suggest the following itineraries but also provide information on how to build your own perfectly paced tour.

5-DAY Pittsburgh to DC
Day 1 – Pittsburgh to Ohiopyle (75 miles)
Day 2 – Ohiopyle to Cumberland (75 miles)
Day 3 – Cumberland to Hancock (60 miles)
Day 4 – Hancock to Shepherdstown (51.5 miles)
Day 5 – Shepherdstown to DC (73.5 miles)

7-DAY Pittsburgh to DC
Day 1 – Pittsburgh to Perryopolis (45 miles)
Day 2 – Perryopolis to Confluence (42 miles)
Day 3 – Confluence to Cumberland (63 miles)
Day 4 – Cumberland to Hancock (60 miles)
Day 5 – Hancock to Shepherdstown (51.5 miles)
Day 6 – Shepherdstown to Whites Ferry (37 miles)
Day 7 – Whites Ferry to DC (35.5 miles)

8-DAY Pittsburgh to DC
Day 1 – Pittsburgh to Perryopolis (45 miles)
Day 2 – Perryopolis to Confluence (42 miles)
Day 3 – Confluence to Cumberland (63 miles)
Day 4 – Cumberland to Little Orleans (43 miles)
Day 5 – Little Orleans to Williamsport(41 miles)
Day 6 – Williamsport to Shepherdstown (27 miles)
Day 7 – Shepherdstown to Whites Ferry (37 miles)
Day 8 – Whites Ferry to DC (35.5 miles)

9-DAY Pittsburgh to DC
Day 1 – Pittsburgh to West Newton (34 miles)
Day 2 – West Newton to Ohiopyle (42 miles)
Day 3 – Ohiopyle to Meyersdale (42 miles)
Day 4 – Meyersdale to Cumberland (32 miles)
Day 5 – Cumberland to Little Orleans (43 miles)
Day 6 – Little Orleans to Williamsport(41 miles)
Day 7 – Williamsport to Shepherdstown (27 miles)
Day 8 – Shepherdstown to Whites Ferry (37 miles)
Day 9 – Whites Ferry to DC (35.5 miles)

10-DAY Pittsburgh to DC
Day 1 – Pittsburgh to West Newton (34 miles)
Day 2 – West Newton to Ohiopyle (42 miles)
Day 3 – Ohiopyle to Confluence (11 miles)
Day 4 – Confluence to Meyersdale (31 miles)
Day 5 – Meyersdale to Cumberland (32 miles)
Day 6 – Cumberland to Little Orleans (43 miles)
Day 7 – Little Orleans to Williamsport(41 miles)
Day 8 – Williamsport to Shepherdstown (27 miles)
Day 9 – Shepherdstown to Whites Ferry (37 miles)
Day 10 – Whites Ferry to DC (35.5 miles)

Camping

List of camp sites and suggested itineraries. 

Most popular times to travel are around Memorial Day and the end of September/start of October. 

Well-maintained trail surface can accommodate all types of bike and riders, but with a tour of this length riders should be conservative with daily mileage estimates.

Trail is closed at the Big Savage Tunnel (GAP) between December-April.

End-to-end shuttling is available for this trail system. 

Daily luggage transfer is available for this trail system. 

Bike rentals are available in Pittsburgh and Cumberland. Standard and e-bikes available.

Connecting Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania to Cumberland in Maryland, the Great Allegheny Passage stretches for nearly 150 miles through the Appalachian Mountains. The Great Allegheny Passage incorporates defunct corridors of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad, and the Western Maryland Railway

In Cumberland the GAP seamlessly intersects with the C&O Canal Towpath. Hugging the north bank of the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. to Cumberland, the C&O Canal operated from 1831 to 1924. It was used for transportation between the Allegheny Mountains and urban areas of the Chesapeake Bay.

Today, both trails have an average grade of less than 1%. At the highest point of the trail, you’ll cross the Eastern Continental Divide, after which the trail drops around 1,750 feet over 20 miles before reaching Cumberland.

The C&O Canal Towpath descends around 600 feet from Cumberland to Georgetown in Washington, D.C., with the gradual change in elevation almost indiscernible . Along the C&O, occasional potholes, rocks, and mud can be expected in some sections but conditions are improving dramatically as a major trail resurfacing project is currently underway.

Our GAP/C&O itineraries are designed to give you ample time to take in the sights along the way and experience the region’s natural beauty. Take your time and explore all the trail has to offer or opt to cycle long miles each day and push your limits as you complete the 335-mile trail.

Difficulty: The Great Allegheny Passage/C&O Canal Towpath is rated at medium to hard difficulty. The trail has little daily elevation gain (with the exception of Meyersdale-Cumberland) and the surfaces are fairly well-maintained, although the C&O Towpath can be uneven and slow in sections. Itineraries range from 20-60+ miles/day with options for a wide variety of riders.

GALLERY

MAP

REVIEWS

Frank and Sue F.
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The Schoolhouse and Lindenhof B&B were spectacular. The beds in all the hotels were really, really comfy. We loved the small towns along the trail and the downhill direction of the trail. We met lovely people everywhere….midwest hospitality and friendliness. There were plenty of little towns along the way. And there were many really, really friendly bikers who were very helpful and fun. Was the trip paced to your satisfaction? Yes, very much so.
Tom and Sharon B.
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The Country Inn staff did everything they could to help us…The Hotel Bothwell and Hotel Frederick were both very accommodating and friendly….Capt Wohlt Inn, in Hermann, had Brant going out of his way to help us. He even cleaned our bikes for us. …It was fine for us older folks ( we’re 71 & 72) with no shuttle taking our luggage. Each day was very doable. Of course we had almost perfect weather. We had no issues with food our water etc. thanks to your materials. And, of course, you can’t do anything about the Missouri wind and dust.
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