Georgetown to Harpers Ferry - Two Wheels, One Heart - CycleBlaze

October 11, 2023

Georgetown to Harpers Ferry

My first day heading west on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Trail.

Blue skies and trees reflecting in the canal approaching Great Falls
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Canal boats pulled by mules carrying up to 130 tons of coal would take a week to get from Cumberland to Washington, DC. I will take 4 days to cycle the 185 miles on my bike laden with 35 pounds of gear. 

The Chesapeake& Ohio Canal National Park is unique in that it is a 185 mile linear park that is rich in history spanning hundreds of years. I had only cycled a few miles when the Great Falls of the Potomac came into view. This is an impressive series of rapids and waterfalls viewable from a boardwalk. The restored historic Great Falls Tavern serves as a visitors center today and is worth the visit for history buffs. 

Great Falls of the Potomac
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The following twenty miles of trail were remote with remains of locks and lockhouses. I had excellent views of the Potomac and the nature surrounding the trail. It was a perfect start for the day. 

The first 25 miles of the trail is rough with limestone, gravel, rocks and stones making the going slow. The trail has been improved from mile 25 to 80 with a smooth packed crushed limestone surface. Cycling became faster, easier, and more enjoyable. 

Great Falls Tavern
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Lunch was at Whites Ferry. This now defunct cable ferry transported motor vehicles, bikes, and people across the Potomac since the late 1700s. It has been closed in recent years due to a legal dispute. The White's Ferry Grill remains open and serves up outstanding food in an unassumming building. 

I cycled through the Monocacy Viaduct a few miles later. It is the largest of the canal's viaducts and was opened in 1833. It is a definite photo stop. I cycled past the towns of Point of Rocks and Brunswick with excellent trail conditions. 

Monocacy Viaduct
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River rapids greeted me as I neared Harpers Ferry. This village is a national historic park that is a must see for trail visitors. It is the location where the Appalachian Trail crosses and folows the C&O for a few miles. 

Ready to pay the tax and climb the stairs and cross into Harpers Ferry
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Al BurnardA tax is putting it mildly. After a 60 mile ride from DC, I consider it conquering the beast. Glad your ride is going well!!!
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4 months ago

The tax to pay to visit Harpers Ferry is carrying the bike and panniers up a many story iron stairway to the pedestrian bridge into the town. I had to pedal a few miles to the Quality Inn once in West Virginia to the outskirts of town for my evenings rest. It was an outstanding day to be alive and on my bike. 

Today's route

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Life is definitely better on the bike

Tom on the Trails

Today's ride: 58 miles (93 km)
Total: 309 miles (497 km)

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Suzanne Gibson"It was an outstanding day to be alive." That says it all.
I'm looking forward to the rest of your trip!
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4 months ago