GAP and C&O Canal Bicycle Tour 2014 Potomac to Georgetown

Back to Harpers Ferry to PotomacCover

19.6 Miles

When I arose in the morning at my usual 6:30 AM, my neighbors were finally asleep. I had my peanut butter and flatbread breakfast before breaking camp so that my hands would be a little cleaner. Breaking camp wasn’t as dirty and dusty as it would have been had the tent been pitched in the dirt. After packing everything, I loaded the bike and headed down the trail.

There was an old packet boat or a packet boat replica floating on the C&O. It looks like it had been fitted with a canopy for tourists. This was one of the spots along the southern end of the canal where water is being backed up by the old locks and water is flowing through them as it probably did 150 years ago. The locks are not operational, but the flow will help keep this part of the canal alive for a little longer.

The next feature was Great Falls. The Potomac River is constrained to Mather Gorge where it flows rapidly, creating the powerful sound of water seeking a lower level in the gorge.  The rock formations are fascinating as the river takes yet another form just 15 miles from Washington DC. I saw the river headwaters near Cumberland where it was narrow and slow. I saw the wide areas created by the dams where the river had some of the qualities of a lake. There were rapids near Harpers Ferry where the river was wide and shallow. It is quite a picturesque and interesting river.

The signs that I was in Georgetown didn’t appear until I was on the last two or three miles of the trail. The canal drops below the street level and the trail gets very busy with pedestrian traffic for the last half mile. The trail crosses the canal near the end and it is a crossing that I missed on the first pass. I realized my mistake when I found myself on a city street. After doubling back I saw the pedestrian bridge and the sign that directs trail users to the other side.

I was beginning to drizzle slightly as I reached the end of the trail. Reaching the end was a sad event. It had been a great ride and adventure. Everything went well and I had no flat tires and no mechanical problems. I met some interesting people and saw things that could not be seen from a tour bus or a car. The entire route from Pittsburgh to Georgetown may be unique in the country because of its length and because it is a dedicated trail. This is a ride that I highly recommend.

1 thought on “GAP and C&O Canal Bicycle Tour 2014 Potomac to Georgetown

  1. I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to share your experience on this ride. I’ve not done any touring or bikepacking as my longest daily distance is 107 miles on a road bike. My riding partner and I are planning to do this ride in mid-September, and the more I read all over the web I can’t wait. Again, Thanks so much. I’m on to reading your other entries.

    -Eric
    Abingdon, Maryland.

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