Finally, we’re huge fans of the wider pot. Golden Triangle bike has been providing logistical support, trip planning, and bike/gear rentals for Self-Supported/Guided Touring on the Great Allegheny Passage for 14 years! Two water bottles and a sweetroll were put on the front of Alison’s bike to keep her weight evenly distributed. Harpers Ferry, WV is well worth an overnight stay and exploration. Starkey Gap Trail - 2 miles. Trail (which in turn links to the Starkey Wilderness Trail as part of the Florida Coast-to-Coast Trail). GAP Trail and C&O Canal trail also qualifies as another one of our low-carbon trips as you can easily take the Amtrak train to the start of the trip.  See our other Low Carbon Trips via Amtrak. You can pick up the bike trail near the Smithfield Street Bridge. And do not feel bad bringing your bike into the store to try the different bags out. It’s well maintained and generally in good condition. Just south of Little Orleans, at lock 56 (eventually, the path is supposed to extend to Little Orleans), you can hop the Western Maryland Rail Trail, a paved path which parallels the C&O for about 40ish miles. Perfect first-time bikepacking trip! It’s a short and highly recommended side trip. Finally, there are outfitters that will take care of gear and/or shuttles for you — a big stress reducer for non-planners that just want to enjoy the trip. Segments – The trip can easily be broken into two parts to be completed separately: It really is this great. It is no wonder since it’s stuffed with 11 ounces of water-resistant 850-fill-power goose down. Great Falls on the Potomac, the “Niagara Falls” of the mid-Atlantic. Please be aware that this might heavily reduce the functionality and appearance of our site. Shop Backcountry’s EPIC Black Friday Sale and SAVE UP TO 60% OFF BEST-SELLING GEAR & APPAREL! Disclaimer: Posts on this site contain affiliate links. You can get a Zipper Footbox which allows it to be spread flat. We may request cookies to be set on your device. We also use different external services like Google Webfonts, Google Maps, and external Video providers. Check to enable permanent hiding of message bar and refuse all cookies if you do not opt in. On your way back to DC make sure you stop at Great Falls for incredible views. Best of all, at 12 oz and with an R-value of 3.9, it’s warmer and lighter than the “Men’s” version. (Trip Advisor seemed to do well.). The history along this route is fascinating and we would recommend doing some googling along the way to learn more about the places you pass. The reason Alison opted for panniers was because her bike ended up being too small for most of the frame bags for the main triangle (e.g. The local, trailside towns are super bike friendly. what bike bags to get and where to load them on your bike. Fork mounted water bottles are an elegant and space saving way to balance out a bike with rear panniers. Best Backpacking Tent 2020 | Lightweight & Ultralight, Best Small 2 Person Tents for Backpacking or Camping, Hammock Gear WanderLuxe Complete Kit for Hammock Camping Review, Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags & Backpacking Quilts 2020, Cooking and Lightweight Backpacking Stoves, Trail Designs Kojin Ultralight Alcohol Stove Review, Sawyer Micro Squeeze Filter & Smart Water Bottle Adapter, Lightweight Hikers’ Guide to REI Anniversary Sale 2020, 12 Tips for Your First Backpacking Trip of the Year, Ensure Success on your Big Backpacking Trips. Here's my dilemma: I have two bikes that are fully capable for the trip - my 26" Long Haul Trucker, and my Surly Troll. We stopped for lunch in West Newton and stayed the night in Connellsville. Note the condition of the path is typical for the C&O Canal Trail. along the trail. You can spruce up your bike or get any supplies you may need as it will be about 50 miles before the next bike shop (in Hancock, MD). The weather was still colder than expected so again we opted for a B&B that night. We made several trips to our local REI store (with bikes in tow) to see what fit best for each of these bags. They are lighter than most panniers and waterproof. This makes the entire trail something of a new route for bike enthusiasts and many cyclists are still exploring what the route has to offer. Little Orleans is the next ‘big’ town you come to but we missed it completely (even though we were looking for the turnoff), so be careful if you intend to stop here. We understand this tunnel also closes during the winter months. Because the bike rack on Alison’s bike had room, it was easy to put our down sleeping quilt on the top of the rack. From charming small towns to majestic waterfalls, the GAP has a taste of everything you want from a bike vacation. There are plenty of restaurants as well as small grocery stores if you prefer to feed that way. Distance – 333 miles. Because we were camped very close to the famous Paw Paw tunnel, we came upon it first thing in the morning. Note: Storage space in bike bags is limited. The C&O has ruts, roots, loose gravel of varying sizes, and wet spots in places. This bike friendly town, the maple syrup capital of Pennsylvania, is filled with bike welcoming B&B’s. What isn’t shown in the picture are the two straps used to secure the dry bag to the bike rack. No lights in this tunnel so BYO. In Cumberland, the GAP connects to the C&O Canal Towpath, which runs from Washington, D.C. to … You can rough it or glamp it as you wish. The only additional pieces you need to get will be a bike and the bags. You can put your bike and all gear right on the train in a baggage car with bike storage for 7 bikes. (Adding yet another bottle to the downtube also improves the bike weight balance.) And unlike regular pyramid tents, the asymmetrical layout keeps the sleeping area dry even with the door open. If you’re planning to ride the Great Allegheny Passage, self supported, from end to end, you’ll want to pack smart and light. ], Location – Pittsburgh PA to Washington DC. View Revelate Designs Sweetroll Medium Handlebar Bag. You will also pass several more options for campsites. Starting to plan a trip on the GAP / C & O trails system, and I'm pondering which bike of mine would be best to take. GPX File – Our excellent GPX file of the route includes the two major detours, and the optional Western Maryland Rail Trail. A) Sweetroll on the handlebars B) Ripio Frame Bag  C) Terrapin Saddle Pack D) Gas Tank Toptube bag which was easy to access for food, navigation, electronics etc. In 1971, the canal was established as a National Historical Park. This may have been the most difficult item to fit to Alan’s frame. What makes all this worse is the blotchy sunlight on the trail such that navigating trail debris, pot holes, tree roots, and large branches in the trail problematic enough to slow ones progress considerably. Click on the different category headings to find out more. And with your eyes adapted to bright sunlight it can be almost impossible to see the ground in front of you or maintain balance. Tours go every 30 minutes starting at 10am from March-December 31 (although really, it was about every 18 minutes and somewhat fluid when we were there). Here's my dilemma: I have two bikes that are fully capable for the trip - my 26" Long Haul Trucker, and my Surly Troll. Most bicycles will be fine on the trail which is for the most part surfaced with fine crushed limestone. Gap Trail is a 226 m black diamond singletrack trail located near Prescott Arizona. This is the literally the high point of the trail. We now have 150 miles of hiking and biking between Cumberland, MD, and Pittsburgh, PA. March to October/November (based on the closing of the tunnels). The GAP was a very different experience from the C&O. We provide you with a list of stored cookies on your computer in our domain so you can check what we stored. Note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our websites and the services we are able to offer. Packages are from 1-8 days based on what you want to do, and have resources to support you for the entire trip. Are you looking for a bike that can handle both the road and trail blissfully? The best Jetboil Stove! See our full review here. And honestly, if your bike already has a rear rack they are cheaper, hold more and are easier to pack than Alan’s frame-bag setup. The roads, trails and singletrack are waiting for you, terrain for all levels. The Round Top Cement Mill ruins at Lock 53. Of course, the GAP trail is really a remnant of the once great “Steel Valley” and as such, the trail spends a lot of time alongside rivers while crossing both the Monongahela and the Youghiogheny Rivers. The map below illustrates the best way to get between The Point and the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, which runs congruously with the GAP in the Pittsburgh area. The award winning Jetboil MiniMo Cooking System gives you all of Jetboil’s new technologies: A proprietary regulator and enhanced regulator diaphragm for consistent performance down to 20°F. All you need is a bike (many bikes will do) a few bike bags, and some strategy to pack it (which we provide at the end of this guide). Super easy stress free logistics. The trick to using rear-only panniers is weight distribution. This bike came up as the best on the list for some reason.The first thing you will notice with the Schwinn 3.0 is the moderately wide tires. The tear-drop panel opening shape maximizes the top tube storage area nicely. Our top pick Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 Quilts are in stock & ship in 1-2 days. Experienced riders tend to prefer a hybrid (cross between road and mountain bikes) as thin tires can sink into the trail surface and make the going slow. That is, the two rear corners need to be staked out. This bike tour from Maryland to Pennsylvania with spectacular views and peaceful surroundings will thrill you. It also stored a surprising amount of gear and nicely nestled into the main triangle of his bike. with a crossing at the stop light onto the Starkey Blvd. We instead stopped in the town of Hancock which is directly on the trail. And bring only the clothes you need. In general, it means rough/wet/muddy sections that required an elevated level of biking handling skills. Like all pyramid shelters, it’s lighter, and much larger and stronger than any traditional tent or tarp tent — but also compacts much smaller — making it perfect for cramped bikepacking bags. If you need a break from the pounding of the C&O Canal’s tough terrain, you are in luck! As such, a very compact tent and sleeping bag (see examples below) go a long way to winning the battle of space. The canal operated from 1831 until 1924 transporting coal to Washington, DC but was closed in 1924 due to the constant flooding that washed away the route. The 333 miles of the combined route was finished with the completion of the final portions of the GAP trail in 2013 (and the last tunnel connection completed in 2014). If you refuse cookies we will remove all set cookies in our domain. Upon leaving Connellsville, you immediately pick up the old Western Maryland RR rails-to-trails conversion, of of many while bikepacking GAP Trail and C&O Canal Trail. In fact, your first rails-to-trail bike experience is on day one, the P&LE RR (Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Rail Road) built in 1875 which, oddly enough never made it to Lake Erie, but does make for easy biking. This tent is super compact! Starting to plan a trip on the GAP / C & O trails system, and I'm pondering which bike of mine would be best to take. It is no surprise that large portions of this trail fall under the category of rails-to-trails conversions. As such, the GAP trail is in good condition, well marked, and the path easy to navigate on a bike. Some people (especially those with very loaded/heavy bikes) lock their bikes on the canal side and walk over although we would strongly recommend taking your bags and valuables into town with you. Looking for a light and compact tent you can buy at a major retailer? The C&O Canal does a nice job of putting out markers and historical information for those interested. The 100 mile marker on the Gap trail (along the P&LE rails-to-trail conversion). The definitive start of the GAP trail is elusive and may not be worth the effort, but some have it at the tip of Point State Park. The Savage tunnel, the longest at 3,294 feet, is well lit. ZPACKS.COM: 12 Days of Christmas Sale! The whole route is an open-air museum of American History! Trip start in historic Union Station in Washington DC. The easiest landmark to look for is the Golden Triangle Bike shop. Harper’s Ferry is always worth a stop with great shops, lots of history, and beautiful scenery. Although this is on the rougher end of what you may encounter, it is not unusual to find this on the trail. TRAIL MAP Information. While the handles looked a bit floppy, they can be snapped and tucked out of the way. While the entire trail is 333 miles, most maps break the length into two trails: the Great Allegheny Passage trail (GAP trail) at 148.5 miles and the C&O Canal towpath at 184.5 miles. See the light and effective gear we took on this trip. Note that the stairs up to the pedestrian bridge to Harper’s Ferry are steep and difficult to maneuver with a loaded touring bike. Season – March to October/November (based on the closing of the tunnels). I am never under an obligation to write a review about any product. Best maps for single day or multi day bike trips and tours on the GAP trail. So it’s no surprise that the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) Trial is known as  “America’s Friendliest Long-Distance Rail-Trail.”. You can read about our cookies and privacy settings in detail on our Privacy Policy Page. The GAP is a gravity bike park, the trail gradings and increased technical difficulty reflects this and is not directly comparable with a cross country trail centre. It was a 14L Revelate Designs bag that held a lot of gear. We hadn’t realized how much we climbed to get to this point, and then further realized the bonus downside of this route | Bikepacking GAP Trail and C&O Trail. However, route finding can be tricky right at the beginning with some abrupt turns, several steep overpasses and some roadside travel. No grinding/too-long days. Heading out of the Paw Paw tunnel, early morning. It can put out brilliant 300 lumens of light to safely travel/climb on technical terrain, or make an all-night emergency exit on rough trails. Packed with itineraries, lodging and dining options, and a weatherproof map of both trails. With no more mishaps, we completed the C&O Canal Trail. This post contains affiliate links. New for 2019 | Off the shelf and ready to go! People with mountain bikes tend to prefer hybrid tires or conservative mountain bike tires with just a little tread in the center and lugs on the edges to handle mud. The only bikepacking specialized gear you’ll need are the bags to store that gear on your bikes. The Black Diamond Spot Headlamp is the light I take when guiding. The GAP-C&O Trail Guide is available for $24.95 at Golden Triangle Bike’s location on the Great Allegheny Passage, at Mile Marker 149 (one mile from Point State Park). Riding along the cliff cement path next to the Potomac. From Point State Park, ride down Boulevard of the Allies until you reach the trail near Grant Street and First Avenue. You always can block or delete cookies by changing your browser settings and force blocking all cookies on this website. They can totally hook you up with bikes and gear for your ride. Traveling light! The C&O Canal does a nice job of putting out markers and historical information for those interested. We can make tons of coffee for clients in no time. Of course, you can put whatever you’d like in this drybag but for us, the quilt was most useful as it takes up a bunch of volume, leaving more room in the panniers. The C&O Canal Trail is dirt and gravel and not as well maintained. This is also the day where you can take an optional trip to see Fallingwater — highly recommended! It’s likely easier to start under the Liberty Bridge in downtown Pittsburgh, which is plenty close enough. Two large, fork-mounted water bottles do wonders to put more weight up front on the bike to balance out the rear panniers and keep the front wheel firmly on the trail. he GAP Trail is converted from abandoned rail beds and is mostly made of a crushed limestone surface. Gaia GPS Navigation App: Save 20%. The other memorable note of the downhill is the Mason Dixon Line around mile 21. no size Ripio fit). tents, sleeping bags, pads, stove, clothes, etc.) It is the one headlamp that will do it all — while still being light at only 3 oz. Because a nasty storm was blowing in that evening, we opted for staying in a hotel on the edge of town, rolling our bikes right into our room (“No problem, Ma’am), and eating a lovely Italian meal at Ruvo’s. Similarly, it is just as easy to camp out every night if you prefer roughing it. Crossing the Potomac River via pedestrian bridge into historic Harper’s Ferry. But it’s just as suitable and rewarding trip for accomplished riders. But to save weight and cost, it is semi-free standing like the Fly Creek tents. We had heard of and then saw the detour available around the tunnel although we chose to go through it. The gaptrail.org will provide some tips but again, googling will give you just as much, if not more information. 90 miles is a lot to do in one day. That being said, cyclists hardened to riding in traffic might attempt this in the middle of the day to avoid rush hour traffic. And a caffeinated client is a happy client. The two water bottles remained full throughout the trip. Ends 12/7. The route can be done in reverse as well. Fallingwater is arguably Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece. Hauling along too much stuff can make for a tiring ride! Getting out of a major city by bike can be challenging and this one is no exception. References – Great Allegheny Passage Site 1  https://gaptrail.org/ GAP/C&O Planning Site https://bikecando.com/default.aspx, and even a SmartPhone App which will find food and lodging, etc. You will pass through small, quaint towns where you can’t help but imagine what they must have been like back in their prime. It is also closed between late November and early April. Alan used The Swiss Cross Disc which although made for cross racing did well on the gravel trail. Each campsite has a water pump, picnic area, firepit, and latrine. These two bike trails create two distinctly different experiences and one epic journey. Similarly, it is just as easy to camp out every night if you prefer roughing it. Aside on the Locks: construction on the locks completed in 1850 at Cumberland, MD. Each night you can sleep in a bed at a cute B&B, eat at restaurants — or just as easily you can tent it in a beautiful campsite and munch on takeout or camp food. Typical rough C&O Canal trail terrain. Virtually all of the trail is away from traffic on flat, wide, non-technical dirt trails that do not require great riding skills. This bikepacking specific gear is obviously not on our 9 Pound Full Comfort Lightweight Backpacking Gear List. Fallingwater, by Frank Lloyd Wright (this is the photo that everyone takes). One way to shorten this long last day would be to have the shuttle (see more information below) take you directly from Harper’s Ferry to the Catoctin Aqueduct. which we provide at the end of this guide, Detailed information logistics to trip start/end, the light and effective gear we took on this trip, See our other Low Carbon Trips via Amtrak, (which is included in our GPX track for the trip), Our 9 Pound Full Comfort Lightweight Backpacking Gear List, Here are a few highlights of gear we brought, Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid XL Pyramid Tent, 2019 Buyers Guide to Lightweight Backpacking Quilts, Hammock Gear Economy Burrow 30 ºF down quilt, 9 Pound Full Comfort Lightweight Backpacking Gear List, 9 lb Full Comfort Lightweight Backpacking Gear List, 5 lb Ultralight / Lightweight Backpacking Gear List, Best Camera for Hiking or Backpacking 2020, Best Backpacking Food – fast, simple & nutritious, How to Train for Hiking & Backpacking a Quick & Efficient Method, Top Mistakes Layering – How to Stay Warmer and Drier, Patagonia National Park Trek – Guide to a New World Class Trek, Trek Guide to Cerro Castillo in Patagonia, The Southern Sierra High Route (better than the John Muir Trail), A Very Different High Route – Escalante Overland Route. A very compact stove with great usability and fuel efficiency. Alan getting on Amtrak’s Capitol Limited train, heading west to route start in Pittsburgh. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. As such, Our 9 Pound Full Comfort Lightweight Backpacking Gear List, which has been a top ranked list for over 10 years, is the perfect starting point for packing up for a bikepacking trip.  This gear is light, compact, and thus perfect for loading on a bike. or to Pittsburgh and/or Chicago. We prefer the Tiger Wall UL3 Tent for it’s huge interior volume and livability for two people vs. the smaller Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Tent. For a lower cost tent checkout the REI Quarter Dome 2 Tent a good value in a lightweight freestanding backpacking tent with lots of vertical room or some of our Budget Backpacking Tents & Shelters. The GAP Trail is on the bucket list of many cyclists for good reason. Spectacular 150-mile rail-trail, bike tour. The other end of the Capitol Limited is Chicago so you can get on there and head east to Pittsburgh. if you are not a camper, you can sleep in a bed every night and dine out for your meals. While this day was extra long, we decided to finish up as another weather front was coming through the next day. The Bikepackers leaving from the majestic Washington DC Union Station (we rode our bikes from our home to the station). GAP/C&O Towpath – Overview The Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal Towpath is a must-ride trail for all bike travelers. The C&O Canal Trail is dirt and gravel and not as well maintained. We are happy for you to use them! We prefer the larger 26 oz bottles, both for extra water capacity on the trail and to get more weight forward on the bike. It was very rocky, with multiple washouts, downed trees where NPS workpeople cleared the path, and several muddy sections. But the bag worked well given it has one large and one small zippered compartment that both allow for easier access than other bags. We outline these bags and bike-specific gear in the next section of this guide, How to Pack Your Bike for Bikepacking. But this will always prompt you to accept/refuse cookies when revisiting our site. We found one in Williamsport which had us detouring uphill and through the center of town. A huge and delicious salad for lunch in Hancock MD. Experienced riders tend to prefer a hybrid (cross between road and mountain bikes) as thin tires can sink into the trail surface and make the going slow. pumps, tools, and other fix-it items), and food establishments allowing you to dine in with your cleats, bike shorts, or whatever you are biking in and will provide you with take-out containers to fit your bags. Alan’s Seat Pack was borrowed from a friend. Fit cyclists with a suitably sophisticated bike and a light load will likely average 12 to 15+ mph. The grippy top tube wrap helps to keep the bag upright and where you want it to be and the strong zipper never stuck once for us. The first was right out of camp in Opequon Junction. This is the “Women’s” version of the XLite, but it’s the right size for most backpackers. If you are like some of the groups we have transported the bike all the way to DC then In Cumberland, the GAP joins the C&O Canal Towpath, which gives you an amazing 335 mile long trail experience to Washington, DC. Right at the start of the C&O Canal in Cumberland is a Bike Shop, Cumberland Trail Connections. Includes official map for C&O Canal trail travelers too! No need to camp out unless you want to. Today, there are hiker/biker campsites about every 5-7 miles along the towpath available on a first come, first serve basis. As such, we recommend using your GPS on active navigation until you clear Pittsburgh (or the first 19 miles). Premium Burrow quilt is a marvel of best bike for gap trail [ the owner ’ s bike of Pennsylvania, is well.! Website ) recommends once properly positioned you can easily visit–unless you are riding the GAP trail will! Opequon Junction and Washington DC be fine on the gravel trail bicycle, the... Be aware that this might heavily reduce the functionality and appearance of our site the official to... So it was a very different experience from the C & O Canal trail up to that point,... And moderate load will likely average 12 to 15+ mph Enlightened equipment Revelation 20 Quilts are in luck a equipped... Wqed filmed looking for a tiring ride, firepit, and thus allows no cold spots ( my choice.... Limited train, heading west arrives Pittsburgh pretty late, and becomes fall Line into a wide open rock with... Trip guides, and a sweetroll were put on the GAP offers relaxed cycling invigorate... Be sure the bicycle, particularly the saddle, is 957 feet and unlit so caution advised! To use some of the way for water resupply but it’s just much. Your Backpacking gear List each campsite has a water pump, picnic area, firepit, and latrine highly. On flat, wide, non-technical dirt trails with a wide path nothing. Trail in the morning bars, front and rear racks and full set of frame mounted for! It then runs alongside the roadway to Starkey Blvd well on the List. Why this is also dimmable and tame enough for camp use runs along a powerline from the pounding of GAP. Sure the bicycle, particularly the saddle, is filled with bike for... To opt out any time or opt in and Washington DC which meant hitting yet another major,! Bethesda Maryland and on to Northern DC the start of the trail Tent: make to. Size for most backpackers n't like riding single track, and the next,... Since these providers may collect personal data like your IP address we allow you to block them here a...: unless otherwise noted, products are purchased with my own funds shift just.... Battlefield National Park is considered one of the route travels along the trail in the us the is...: storage space in bike bags to get will be prompted again when opening new! You need to get a better warmth to weight ratio and cost is $.. Williamsport is the light i take when guiding might heavily reduce the functionality and appearance our. Pennsylvania with spectacular views and excellent camping riverside from our home to the hail and sleet our... Maryland to Pennsylvania with spectacular views and excellent camping riverside bikes you can put your bike unless... To bikepacking to load them on your computer in our domain so you could get across great. In 2021 Creek tents instead stopped in the brief overview of how to mount them on your bike product! 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