Three Days on the C and O Canal || Part 2

Editor's note: This post was originally published on 6 May 2012 and was updated in August 2019 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

This is the second post of our two-part series. Navigate to our previous post at Three Days on the C and O Canal

Confluence of the Potomac & Shenandoah Rivers in Harper's Ferry
The confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers.  

On the morning of day two, I had an unsuccessful search for a spring at the end of the street next to the overlook of the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. It had been there when my son's Scout Troop had done this section of the trail. I guess the Park Service had capped off the spring. This part of the C&O in Harper's Ferry W.VA. is also the same pathway for the Appalachian Trail. They both follow the same route for a couple of miles. The Appalachian Trail is just behind me in the picture.

Harper's Ferry National Historical Park

There is a lot of history on and off the trail. You just need to keep your eyes open to see it. Like this limestone cave. This is Dargan Cave and the limestone that was extracted was turned into hydraulic cement that was used on the structures on the canal.

Dargan Cave and the limestone that was extracted was turned into hydraulic cement that was used on the structures on the canal.
Dargan Cave.

Next up the trail is the Antietam Creek walk-in camp. Take note, this camp is a fee-use area. It is a nice big campsite area with campsites on both sides of the trail. The last time I was there camping it was full of Boy Scouts. Keep this in mind!! I am sure they are not as loud as the trains...

Just before getting to Shepherdstown W. VA, I got a flat.  You need to plan for flats. It is not a matter of if but when. Stop and take your time with any trailside repair. Because what you have with you is all you have to make the best of it. After fixing my flat I went into Shepherdstown for lunch and found a Sheetz. There are other places in town to get something to eat. Once you cross the bridge into town you will come to your second stop sign which is a four-way stop. Sheetz is to your right and to your left are the shops in the downtown area. I didn't have time to explore downtown so that will have to be on another trip.

After eating I made the plan to keep riding to the 80-mile point. I wanted to make it to Williamsport, just short of the 100-mile marker. But I was having an issue with a pinch in my neck that was causing me some discomfort so I opted for plan "B" which is to turn around here.

C&O Canal Mile Marker

Heading back to Harper's Ferry I planned to get something to eat and then keep on riding a few miles down the trail to a campsite to put me somewhere around a 55-mile ride on day three. I stop at Bald Eagle Island Hiker/Biker campsite. It is a nice open site but the train tracks are just on the outside of the towpath. So just like needing a patch kit, you will also need earplugs! This is not the only campsite where you will hear the trains and earplugs are a must on the trail. Brunswick MD which is just up the road is a train switching yard. You will hear trains all night earplugs or not!

On day three I got up and I didn't even make coffee. I just eat on the bike figuring I have about five to six hours of riding and I would not like to sit in traffic in NOVA (Northern Virginia) to get back home. It was also cold that morning and it must have gotten down in the '30s overnight. So moving means I warm up.

Stop at Great Falls for a quick lunch.

Waltworks Cross Bike

Waltworks on Day Three. This is what I built the bike to be able to handle and it did a great job. Time for a new set of tires and bar tape. I am sure some new cables wouldn't hurt! I don't have the ultra-light bikepacking thing going on but I am getting there. I have some more work to do in this area.

Nearing the end around mile marker 4 you start to see some of the original mile makers.

Original C&O Canal Mile Markers

I finished up my three-day trip with 17 1/2 hours of riding and I covered 178.6 miles. I had planned four days to do the trail out and back and even if my neck was not giving me issues I still think it would have taken five or maybe six days. I felt like I was on a schedule either by time or miles and that is something I don't want to have to happen again.


Unknown said…
maybe need to get those drops up higher to aleviate the pinched neck issue?
Unknown said…
sounds like a fun trip nonetheless!
Brian Wright- said…
Not a bar issue, I had the issue before the ride.
Dan O said…
Cool report. Makes me (almost) miss the east coast...
Anonymous said…
Good report, might have to try something like that one day when time allows.

Metro said…
Great to see the WW loaded and in action. I just came across some of your related comments on

I still need to do the Pittsburg to Nova ride one day.

Glad you had a good time.


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