- Trip Outline
- Trip Includes
- Trip Excludes
Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) and Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal Path Gravel Adventure
The GAP/C&O are two of the premier gravel routes in the USA, showing off our rails-to-trails system, traveling from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington, D.C. These two trails combine for 335 miles of great car-free trails, with tons of local history, charm, and cultural aspects. The GAP is a well-maintained crushed limestone trail with a max incline of around 3%. It crosses the Eastern Continental Divide. The C&O follows the tow path that was used to move coal from PA to DC via barges and a system of locks along the canal route. Both routes are part of the linear national park that goes the distance of the two combined routes. For 2023 and 2024, we have altered our daily routes to take advantage of the best available accommodations and a bit more time in the historic town on Harpers Ferry.
Bicycle recommendations for this trip are a hybrid or gravel grinder with tires of at least 28 mm in width. The C&O can be muddy in spots, so that is something to think about as well. Due to some tunnels over 3000 ft in length, headlights and rear taillights are required.
Minimum Group Size
- If flying in, make your reservations to Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT). Airport pick up will be at baggage claim by 2pm.
- When flying out, airport drop off will be by 6pm at Ronald Reagan International Airport.
- Do not make reservations before 5pm.
- If you are driving to our starting hotel location, please arrive by 3pm in time for our bike fitting, social hour and orientation dinner.
- Shuttle service back to Pittsburgh is not available. Options are: You may ship your bike home, fly home, take Amtrak back to Pittsburgh, or rent a one-way Enterprise car rental back to Pittsburgh for you and your bike.
All lodging is included
This is a point to point trip: Pittsburgh, PA to Washington, DC. Please make the correct travel arrangements.
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Our starting location is the confluence of the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela Rivers. We will ride along the Monongahela until we reach the split off Youghiogheny River in McKeesport. Today is a long day of 77 miles to the rafting town of Ohiopyle, PA.
77.8 miles; 1882 ft elevation
takes us to the Eastern Continental Divide at 2392 ft. While this is a long day of 74 miles, it is scenic, and you will take your time admiring the countryside during your 23-mile descent into Cumberland. We complete our adventure on the GAP today. We sit and relax, enjoy an ice cream cone at a popular shop at the junction of the GAP and C&O. We now overnight in Cumberland, MD and enjoy a nice dinner featuring famous Maryland crab cakes or other delicious entrees.
74.3 miles; 2533 ft elevation
We walk across the street and begin our trek on the C&O. There is a noticeable change in the trail and the scenery, as we are now traveling alongside the Potomac River. Today we go through the 3100 ft Paw Paw tunnel. Hopefully the detour and construction on the eastern end of the tunnel will be completed. As we ride today, we begin to pass by locks and a variety of aqueducts and dams to get the most use out of the power of water.
60.4 miles; 590 ft elevation
Leaving Hancock, we move downstream to Harpers Ferry, a focal point for travel and commerce during the Civil War, as it sits on the banks of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. This town is also the midway point for the Appalachian Trail which travels from GA to ME. We will spend two evenings in Harpers Ferry.
60.5 miles; 1293 ft elevation
Harpers Ferry is where 8 national treasures converge: 1) Journey through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area, 2) Washington Heritage Trail National Scenic Byway, 3) Appalachian Trail, 4) Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, 5) Potomac Heritage National Trail, 6) Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, 7) Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, and 8) Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area.
While the distances are short today, the route is designed to provide as much sightseeing time as you would like. We have an optional cycling route to Antietam National Battlefield, spot of the greatest loss of American lives in one day, or you may opt to shuttle by van to the Battlefield and tour by bike or with an audio car tour. There will be ample time in the afternoon to do walking tours of historic Harpers Ferry
Our last day takes us from the rural areas of MD to the hustle and bustle of our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. Mile 0 is very close to the National Monuments. As we end our journey in D.C., we suggest you add some additional days here to check out the history and workings of the capital. We will provide transportation to Ronald Reagan International Airport for those who are ready to return home.
If returning to Pittsburgh, contact the office for suggestions of methods of transportation. One way car rentals and Amtrac are options.
62.4 miles; 513 ft elevation
- All lodging
- Transfers to and from the airport
- All breakfasts, dinners and picnic lunches on riding days
- Cocktail social hours on the 1st evening of each tour
- Van support
- GPS mapping
- 1 or more experienced guides
- For the self-guided option: hotel reservations, dinner reservations, and Ride with GPS routes only.
- Meals on off days
- 12% gratuity for guides, mechanics, volunteers and tour staff is not included, but greatly appreciated
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