Biking from DC to Pittsburgh on the C&O and Great Allegheny Passage
About this blog
Washington DC to Pittsburgh via the C&O Canal and Great Allegheny Passage In search of a 2013 summer adventure, we decided to attempt a bike trip from DC to Pittsburgh. The trip is 335 miles, about 10% of a coast-to-coast trip. Since I am traveling with a 10, 11, and 12 year old girls, biking on the road was not an option. Similar to our Grand Canyon Rim-to Rim adventure, this is a challenge that is tough enough to create doubt and concern, but one that I am very confident in the girls ability to complete with sufficient planning and preparation. I figure that this will be a good test of stamina and endurance, and my ultimate goal is to put the girls in a position to accomplish something that they thought they could never do! We are fortunate to have 2 great trails that connect to allow the entire trip from Washington to Pittsburgh be completed off-road. Beginning in Washington DC, the C&O Canal towpath is 185 miles and runs to Cumberland, Maryland. The C&O is a rugged trail because it was originally built for mule transport, so the ride can be a bit challenging in places with exposed toots, ruts, and water spots. On the plus side, there is no need to worry about auto traffic, and it is generally flat...more about that later! Once we hit Cumberland Maryland, the C&O ends, and it joins with the Allegheny Passage for 50 miles to Pittsburgh, PA. The difference in the trails is immediately noticeable because the Allegheny is an old rail trail which is much smoother and consists primarily of very small packed stone. Our plan is to complete the ride in 6 days, which means riding about 65 miles each day for at the outset and a bit less in the end. It takes more energy to ride on the a trail than a road, and I am told that 65 miles has a rough equivalent to 100 miles on the road. In the planning we had to consider sleeping arrangements, and we were fortunate to have Xiu offer (or we might have volunteered her, I forget the exact development!) to drive the RV from 1 campground to another, essentially meeting us at each stop along the trail. At the start I think I was equally concerned about Xiu handling the RV on some of the small roads as I was about the kids handling the biking! A funny story: about a month before the trip, we were debating what to do with Max the dog while we were out. One option was to bring Max in the RV with us. When we then informed the girls about the plan to have Mommy follow us, Katelyn exclaimed in a dead serious voice, "No way, Max is going in the kennel! I am not going to put his life in danger like that!"