Don't miss the 2003 trip coming October 18-26, our Awesome Autumn Adventure on the C&O and DC trails.

C&O Canal / Washington DC Trip
May 25 - June 1, 2000

The Towpath in Georgetown What is the C&O Canal / Washington DC Trip and why are we going there for the 4th year in a row? There is already so much excellent information about the C&O Canal on the internet that I will not go into detail here.  Suffice it say that it is one of the most beautiful places on Earth and it is excellent for bicycling.  The towpath beaten into the forest floor by the mules which used to tow barges up and down the 184.5-mile canal is a hardpacked dirt surface. 
We will spend our first night in Cumberland, Md. at The Inn at Walnut Bottom, a historic Bed & Breakfast only 3 blocks from the trailhead.  Cumberland is on the Allegheny Plateau. From there the trail is literally all down hill, as it winds through the ridge & valley section of the Appalachian Mountains, past the Great Falls of the Potomac, and through the Piedmont to Georgetown, Washington DC.  Painting of The Inn at Walnut Bottom
Lift Lock The canal and towpath drop approximately 600 feet at 74 lift locks between Cumberland and Washington. The canal itself is dry except in a few rewatered sections as shown here and above. Note the bicyclists on the towpath beside the canal.
Most of the canal has all but disappeared into the verdant forest.  The towpath itself is at least 80 percent shaded, keeping it very comfortable even in the summer.  Except for the section where the interstate highway, the railroad and the canal all pass through a narrow valley, the trail is silent and feels like you are a thousand miles from civilization.  Encounters with people are few and far between. We will ride slow, taking time to explore and to enjoy the peace and serenity along the trail.  Shady Towpath
Paw Paw Tunnel We will ride to the Paw Paw Tunnel for a group photo before heading into the town of Paw Paw.  The Paw Paw Tunnel is one of the most awesome engineering features of the canal.  It took 14 years to finish the 3118' tunnel through the mountain of rock.  The Paw Paw Patch Bed & Breakfast where we will be staying is about 2 miles from the towpath.  There are no other accomodations in this small town, where Tom and I stayed  in 1997. The B&B is small but very nice and the breakfast was wonderful.  Our sleeping arrangements will be very intimate due to the limited amount of space.  If anyone prefers, you are welcome to bring your tent along and set it up on the beautiful lawn.
The powerful Potomac River is often in view and, in fact, is sometimes only inches from the towpath; so don't stare at those woodland critters too long, or plop! The towpath was perfect for Dan's and my recumbent bicycles. Others in our group rode hybrids and mountain bikes. We recommend that you bring a spare tire, not just a tube. There are stones, sticks, roots, etc. that can gash a tire. You will want to ride carefully, but bring a spare just in case. There are no stores or bike shops in some of the areas we will be staying. Come prepared. Potomac view

We will spend our third night of the trip at the Days Inn in Williamsport, MD, a short bike ride from the trail. The next day we ride on through the Appalachian Mountains to Harpers Ferry, WV.  This will be our most challenging ride of the trip, as we must carry our bikes up a spiral staircase to a pedestrian bridge which crosses high above the Potomac River.  From there it will be a hilly ride through picturesque and historic Harpers Ferry, to our hotel a couple of miles away.  Good thing this is a van supported vacation trip, as some will probably opt for the van ride to the Cliffside Inn.
kayaker at Great Falls  And just when you think, "it can't get any better than this," we begin meeting more and more people on the towpath. After 4 days in the wilderness we will be excited to see people.  We will certainly stop for breathtaking views at Great Falls Park. Pictured is a kayaker going over one of the numerous falls which make up Great Falls. I believe it was Roger Durling who caught this action with his throw away camera! We may opt to move off the towpath onto the smooth fast black top of the Capital Crescent Rail Trail for the last 6 miles into DC.
We will stay at the Econo Lodge Pentagon for the last three nights of our vacation.  It is convenient to the many trails we will want to ride for sightseeing around our nation's capitol.  There is so much to do and see, we will just play it by ear. In no case will we be disappointed.  Perhaps we will ride out the W&OD Railroad Regional Park trail to Purcellville?  Thats it in this picture.  Looks like a street doesn't it?  But there are no cars allowed! We need two more people to complete our entourage. Join Harry Hutson, Flem Cliett, Mike Wise, Ed Jewell, Veronica Nance, Royce Smith, MJ Lowe and Lamar Martin for this unforgettable tour. The W&OD Trail

Contact:  Lamar Martin, your tour leader (912) 526-9179 or 

Some wonderful links all about the C&O Canal: Read about our 1997 Trip or our 1998 Trip.

Last updated 4/1/2000