Road Scholar : Home
Bike the Entire C&O Canal: One of America’s Most Distinctive National Parks

Program Number: 18629RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/22/2013 - 9/27/2013; 9/7/2014 - 9/12/2014; 4/19/2015 - 4/24/2015; 6/14/2015 - 6/19/2015;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Sharpsburg, Maryland
Price starting at: $968.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Bicycling; National Parks Activity Level: n (see description)
Meals: 15; 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Fat; Low Salt; Vegetarian; Vegetarian    

Tackle all 185 miles of the C & O Canal Towpath, a route teeming with history as it makes its way along the Potomac River Basin from Washington, D.C. through Civil War sites and forgotten hamlets to Cumberland, Md., the first gateway to the West.




Highlights

• Delve into Chesapeake and Ohio Canal history as you ride along what remains of this engineering wonder.
• Enjoy a narrated canal boat ride that demonstrates the working of the locks and towing systems.
• Stop to explore on your own at Civil War crossing sites, Harpers Ferry and other small towns.



Activity Particulars

Biking 15-30 miles, up to four hours per day. The terrain is generally flat, but on an unpaved trail where some sections are bumpy and may become muddy in wet weather. Bicycles (hybrid 21-speed), helmets and mechanical assistance are provided. Participants should be active cyclists. However, everyone is allowed to enjoy the bike ride and scenery as they wish. We encourage everyone to go at their own pace.



For a less strenuous biking experience, you may consider program #13306, Biking the C&O Canal Towpath, which offers a slightly easier level of daily bicycling activities along the canal, with an activity level of Moderately Challenging.

NOTE: The C&O canal is 184.5 miles long. The program is based at Shepherd’s Spring which is located in the middle, so biking the canal requires a bit of driving on any given day. Sag wagons (typically 15 passenger vans) will take you and your bike to the starting point each day. They will also pick up all bikers and bikes at the end of the day.




Date Specific Information

9-22-2013

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



Itinerary Summary

Arrival Sharpsburg, 2 nights; bike to Hancock, 1 night; bike to Sharpsburg, 2 nights; departure.



Coordinated by Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center.




Hancock

Situated at the narrowest part of Maryland (Pennsylvania and West Virginia are less than two miles apart), Hancock is best known as home to a section of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal and the Western Maryland Rail Trail, which connects the town to the Revolutionary War-era Fort Frederick State Park.



Sharpsburg

Sharpsburg lies east of the Potomac River near one of its tributaries, Antietam Creek, made famous by the pivotal Battle of Antietam during the American Civil War. Sharpsburg is part of Maryland’s Washington County, which attracts history fans with its numerous Civil War sites and nature buffs with its many national, state and local parks.



Accommodations
Four nights in modern lodge; one night in newly remodeled motel. For information, call or go to website.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Paul McDermott

Paul McDermott has taught geography and cartography at schools including George Mason and the University of Maryland. His research interests include the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, on which he co-produced a four-map series. Paul was the academic consultant for two US Postal Service Stamps — The Louisana Purchase and the Earth Day 1972. He has been a visiting scholar to the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division, and is a consultant to the Lewis and Clark Rediscovery Project in Montana. His current endeavors include an ever expanding list of award-winning books to which he has authored or contributed.
 
Karen Gray

Karen Gray worked for 20 years creating educational adventures for the Smithsonian in the mid-Atlantic region. In 2001, she moved Hagerstown because of her love for Western Maryland and Washington County's position midway along the C&O Canal's 184.5 miles. She took interest in the canal while hiking the towpath in 1977 and has been walking in the park and researching the history of the canal and the Potomac route west ever since.
 
Randy Anderson

Randy Anderson has lived his entire life in or near Williamsport, Md., which is at roughly mile 100 of the 185-mile C&O Canal Towpath. A train enthusiast, he has photographed in the Williamsport area extensively, using the same angles as historical photos of trains and the C&O Canal. Randy's multi-screen presentation allows us to simultaneously see the historical and present-day sites.
 
Meals and Lodgings
   Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center
  Sharpsburg, MD 2 nights
   Super 8 Motel
  Super 8 1 night
   Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center
  Sharpsburg, MD 2 nights
 Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center
Type: Conference Center
  Description: Situated along the Potomac River and C&O Canal, Shepherd's Spring has 220 acres of woodland and rolling meadows. This secluded site is a relaxing refuge for people and a haven for wildlife. Demonstration gardens, a Heifer Global Village, and more create an eco-friendly learning facility with worldwide scope.
  Contact info: 16869 Taylors Landing Road
Sharpsburg, MD 21782 USA
phone: 301-223-8193
web: www.shepherdsspring.org
  Room amenities: Rooms are simple yet comfortable and include a luggage rack, dresser, desk, chair, and most have a futon. A telephone is available in the common area. Each room has its own private bath along with individually controlled heating and air conditioning. Linens are provided, though there is no maid service during the program.
  Facility amenities: Part of the charm of Shepherd’s Spring is “getting away from it all” to focus on meaningful activities and ideas. The site features a natural spring as well as nature and meditation trails for hiking. There is limited wireless Internet access, and a computer is available for guest use in the common area. TV and telephones only in the common areas. Free parking available on site.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights prior: $45/ room Call ahead for availability at (301) 223-8193
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: $45/ room Call ahead for availability at (301) 223-8193
  Check out time: 1:00 PM

 Super 8 Motel
Type: RV
  Contact info: 118 Limestone Rd
Hancock, MD 21750 USA
phone: 301-678-6101
web: www.super8.com
  Room amenities: air conditioning, television
  Facility amenities: complimentary continental breakfast
  Smoking allowed: Yes


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
2 p.m., at the Conference Center. You will be staying at Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center that night.
  End of Program:
12:30 p.m., at the Conference Center. You will be staying at Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. Health form, Bicycle questionaire
  Parking availability:
Free parking at Shepherd's Spring.
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Sharpsburg, MD
  Nearest city or town:  Sharpsburg, Hagerstown
  Nearest highway: I-70, I-81
  Nearest airport:  Baltimore Washington International
  From End of Program
  Location: Sharpsburg, MD
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details
 

Sharpsburg

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Hotel Shuttle
phone: 301-223-8193
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$75, discount for additional riders
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

1 1/2 - 2 hours 

 

Distance:

 

approximately 70 miles

   

Easy access to and from 3 major airports - Baltimore/ Washington (BWI), Dulles International (IAD) and Reagan National. Regional flight service now available to Hagerstown Regional Airport - reduced rate of $25 for Hagerstown pickups.

 

Sharpsburg

 

From Train Station

 
 

Service:

 

Hotel Shuttle
phone: 301-223-8193
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$45 per person, discount for additional riders
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

30 minutes 

 

Distance:

 

22 miles

   

Service to and from the Amtrak station in Martinsburg, WV

 

Sharpsburg

 

From Bus Terminal

 
 

Service:

 

Hotel Shuttle
phone: 301-223-8193
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$25 per person, discount for additional riders
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

20 minutes 

 

Distance:

 

12 miles

   

Service to and from Greyhound Bus Terminal in Hagerstown, MD

 
Driving Directions
  From Baltimore/Washington Area Take I-70 West to the Route 65 interchange in Hagerstown (Exit 29.) Travel South on Route 65 for 7.1 miles to Taylors Landing Road - turn right onto Taylors Landing Rd. and drive 2.2 miles. You will cross a railroad track, pass houses, and then veer to the right. Stay on Taylors Landing Road. Drive along side a dry canal bed, and eventually cross a small creek. Pass 2 houses on the left, continue to the top of the hill. Look for a big sign on the left that says "Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministries Center Church of the Brethren." Turn left onto the paved driveway. The lodge is 7/10th of a mile from the end of the driveway. From Virginia-West: Go North on I-81 to I-70 east, to Rt. 65, and then follow above directions from where it says "Travel South on Rt. 65 for 7.1 miles..." From Virginia-East: Take I-495 to 270N to Frederick. Take I-70 W to Route 65, and then follow above directions from where it says "Travel South on Rt. 65 for 7.1 miles..." From Pennsylvania: Travel South on I-81 to I-70 East, to Rt. 65 South. Then follow the above directions from where it says "Travel South on Rt. 65 for 7.1 miles..."
Equipment Requirements: 21 speed hybrid bicycles are provided. If personal bicycles are used, a spare tire and repair kit should also be included. Bikes may be shipped toShepherd's Spring, 16869 Taylors Landing Rd, Sharpsburg, MD 21782 (allow 2 weeks)
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: This day will cover the arrival, registration, and orientation of all participants.
(Sunday, September 22)

Note: Participants using facility's bikes will test and fit bikes and helmets.



   
 Arrive To: Arrive at Shepherd's Spring Conference Center Lobby between 2 and 4 pm to get rooming assignment and detailed information about the ride. Bike selections and helmet fittings takes place at 4pm so bikes can be loaded for Monday's ride.
 Dinner: Enjoy dinner served buffet style with a wonderful salad bar and tasty dessert in the Lodge dining room
 Evening: Get acquainted with fellow riders, rules of the trail, and your ride guides. Introduction to the C & O Canal National Park with detailed daily itineraries distributed. Time for questions and answers on the Park and the ride.
   
Accommodations: Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Bicycling to Brunswick and Edward's Ferry with a brief stop at Harper's Ferry National Historic Park. A portion of the biking towpath on this day's ride will coincide with Appalachian Trail, one of few spots where you can bike on the AT.
(Monday, September 23)

Note: There will be 35 miles of cycling with five optional pull out points.



   
 Breakfast: Enjoy a hot breakfast buffet along with fresh fruit and cereal selections in the Shepherd's Spring lodge dining room.
 Morning: Bicycle from Dargan to Harpers Ferry along the scenic C&O Canal Towpath. There will be a brief amount of time for an orientation and independent exploration of historic Harpers Ferry. Then bicycle on to the lunch stop in Brunswick (12 miles). For a short distance participants will be bicycling on a section of the Appalachian Trail that coincides with the C&O Canal Towpath.
 Lunch: Enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch at the Brunswick Family Campground.
 Afternoon: Continue cycling past the scenic and historic train station in Point of Rocks. Then - after crossing the restored historic Monocacy Aqueduct, considered one of the greatest engineering achievements of the canal - finish at Edwards Ferry (23 miles).
 Dinner: Enjoy a buffet style dinner with a salad bar, followed by dessert, in the Shepherd's Spring lodge dining room.
 Evening: Discover the various aspects of the C&O Canal's long history from George Washington's Pawtomack Company to a bloodline for the industrial revolution through an in depth presentation and lecture led by one of our expert instructors.
   
Accommodations: Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Bicycle from the historic downtown Cumberland Terminus to Little Orleans going through the Paw Paw Tunnel.
(Tuesday, September 24)

Note: There will be 44 miles of cycling with four optional pull out points.



   
 Breakfast: Enjoy a hot buffet style breakfast along with fresh fruit and cereal selections in the Shepherd's Spring lodge dining room. Pack an overnight bag to take along for this one night out on the trail.
 Morning: Travel to the terminus of the C&O Canal in historic downtown Cumberland, MD. There will be some time to discover the C &O Canal Museum in the historic Western Maryland Railroad Station while the bicycles are unloaded and readied for departure. Then bicycle toward Oldtown, established by early settler Thomas Cresap, for a picnic lunch (18 miles).
 Lunch: Enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch beside Lock 70 in Oldtown.
 Afternoon: Continue bicycling past Oldtown, site of a Shawnee river crossing and an important trade route. Afterwards you will encounter the Paw Paw tunnel where you will need to dismount and walk your bicycles through (flashlights are needed). then continue the ride to Little Orleans (26 miles).
 Dinner: Enjoy a dinner at a locally owned restaurant. There should be time for a quick shower at the hotel prior to leaving for dinner.
 Evening: This is an evening for you to spend as you wish. Relax at the hotel after a long day's ride, or put on your walking shoes to explore Hancock on your own.
   
Accommodations: Super 8 Motel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Bicycle from Little Orleans, over the 110 ft single arch Fifteen Mile Creek Aqueduct, pass Hancock and end in Williamsport.
(Wednesday, September 25)

Note: There will be 53 miles of cycling with five optional pull out points.



   
 Breakfast: Enjoy continental breakfast in the hotel lobby. Gather your things for the return to Shepherd's Spring accommodations this evening.
 Morning: Bicycle from Little Orleans, across another single arch aqueduct, past historic cement mill ruins, and through Hancock. Take time to stop for a quick look at Ft. Frederick, the nation's only Revolutionary period stone fort. Lunch stop is at McCoy's Ferry (31 miles). The group may choose to travel for 20 miles along the paved Western Maryland Rail Trail which parallels the C&O Canal Towpath.
 Lunch: Enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch at McCoy's Ferry.
 Afternoon: Continue bicycling past the Four Locks area and Dam #5, into Williamsport and the Cushwa Basin. See the Conococheague Aqueduct with one wall missing from a mishap with a canal boat, then pass an unique railroad lift bridgeas well as a restored lock and lock house. If construction on the canal towpath is still continuing then this may be the end of today's ride otherwise continue on your way and finish at McMahon's Mill (22 miles). It is only a short ride from here via van (15 minutes) back to Shepherd's Spring. After showers there is time for a short visit to the highlights of Antietam National Battlefield.
 Dinner: Enjoy a buffet style dinner with a salad bar, followed by dessert, in the Shepherd's Spring lodge dining room.
 Evening: Delve into the relationship between the canal and the railroads during this presentation by one of our instructors. Each entity relying and competing with each other to serve the people of the area and the nation. By this time your rides will have familiarized you with many of the sites shown.
   
Accommodations: Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Bicycling from Edwards Ferry to the begining of the Canal in Georgetown, witness the Great Falls of the Potomac and experience a mule drawn ride on a canal boat.
(Thursday, September 26)

Note: There will be 30 miles of cycling with three optional pull out points.



   
 Breakfast: Enjoy a hot buffet style breakfast along with fresh fruit and cereal selections in the Shepherd's Spring lodge dining room before joining the morning commuter route towards Washington, DC.
 Morning: Bicycle from Edwards Ferry to Great Falls (16 miles) . There will be time to stop and walk out to the Great Falls of the Potomac -- witness their majesty and come to a new understanding of why the Potomac was not navigable. After perusing the museum in the Great Falls tavern board a canal boat. The boat trip will lock through and begin a short journey along the canal powered by sure footed mules while costumed park rangers tell stories of canal boat captains and their adventures on the C&O. Depending on canal conditions and weather, the canal boat ride will be here at Great Falls or in Georgetown at the terminus of the ride.
 Lunch: Enjoy an early gourmet picnic lunch at Great Falls.
 Afternoon: Continue bicycling to Georgetown, using the paved Crescent Trail for the last few miles of the journey. (14 miles) If the canal boat ride takes place at Georgetown the last mile will need to be walked to reach the Canal Boat.
 Dinner: Return to Shepherd's Spring for a wonderful banquet meal on the last evening of the program.
 Evening: Enjoy Appalachian Dulcimers, guitars and banjos as the locals jam at O'Hurley's General Store in Shepherdstown. Wonderful harmonies from many different instruments as the locals wander in and out of this unique jam session.
   
Accommodations: Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Complete the last few miles of the C &O journey before heading home!
(Friday, September 27)

Note: There will be 20 miles of cycling with two optional pull out points.



   
 Breakfast: Enjoy a hot buffet style breakfast along with fresh fruit and cereal selections in the Shepherd's Spring lodge dining room.
 Morning: Finish the 180 mile journey (4 miles are closed to use) by bicycling the last 20 miles from Dam #4 to Dargan. Pass Civil War river crossing sites, caves, and high bluffs mixed with farm fields along the berm side of the canal. (20 miles)
 Lunch: Back to Shepherd's Spring with time to shower and pack up before having lunch in the dining room. Departure after lunch.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Free Time Opportunities
 
  Sharpsburg, MD Antietam National Battlefield
The Battle of Antietam (or Sharpsburg) on Sept. 17, 1862 greatly altered the course of the American Civil War. It remains as the bloodiest day in American History - there were some 23,110 casualties. Visitors can walk or drive by the Dunker Church, the North and East Woods, The Cornfield, the Mumma Farmstead, Bloody Lane (Sunken Road) Burnside Bridge, and Antietam National Cemetery. Antietam National Battlefield lies north and east of Sharpsburg, along Md. 35 and 65. Both routes intersect either U.S. 40 or 40A and I-70. The Visitor's Center is opening daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day. All visitor center facilities and most tour route exhibits are wheelchair accessible. Antietam National Battlefield and Cemetery are adminstered by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. P.O. Box 158 Sharpsburg, MD 21782 301-432-5124 For additional information, visit www.nps.gov/anti
  Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal began as a dream of passage to western wealth, It operated as a conduit of eastern coal, suffered extensive and finally fatal flooding, and then resisted being paved as a highway. Today it endures as a national historical park - a pathway into history, nature, and recreation. The canal runs along the Potomac River from Cumberland, MD to Georgetown, Washington DC (184.5 miles) The canal abuts the property line of Shepherd's Spring at Mile Marker 83. It is popular with hikers and bicyclists. For general information about the canal, write: C&O National Historical Park, 1850 Dual Highway, Hagerstown, MD 21740 or call 301-739-4200. For additional information, visit www.nps.gov\choh
  Foxcross Pottery
Del Martin, potter, lives and works at Foxcross with his wife, Carol. Their secluded rural home, overlooking the Potomac River, and pottery is both self-constructed and self-sustaining. They invite visitors to come glimpse their work and lifestyle. Foxcross pottery is just 5 minutes from Shepherd's Spring, and is open Saturday from 10 am - 5 pm and Sunday 1 - 5 pm or by appointment. The pottery is lead-free and uses stony reduction glazes. Address: 6640 Remsburg Road Sharpsburg, Md 21782 301-432-6692
  Washington County Museum of Fine Arts
The holdings contain over 6,000 works of art, and the museum is nationally recognized for its collection of 19th and early 20th century American Art. In addition, visitors can view 18th century to contemporary paintings, drawings, sculpture, and decorative arts. There are also holding of Old Masters, European, Asian, African, and Native American Art. Hours: Tues - Sat. 10 am - 5 pm, Sun. 1 - 5 pm. Located at 91 Key Street, City Park, Hagerstown, MD email: wcmfa@aol.com phone: 301-739-5727 the galleries are fully accessible to those with disabilities and wheelchairs are available. For additional information, visit www.washcomuseum.org
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


The C & O Canal Companion


Author: Mike High


Description: A complete guide to the history of the C &O Canal National Park and its attractions - from cycling and canoeing to hiking the towpath and exploring natural wonders.



Canawlers


Author: James Rada, Jr


Description: A fictitious account of life along the canal during the Civil War years of 1862. Fate takes canal boat captain Hugh away from his family, leaving his wife Alice to hold the family together. With the help of her children and orphan from Cumberland and a disillusioned Confederate soldier, they will face the dangers presented by the war, nature, and the railroad together.



Between Rail and River


Author: James Rada, Jr


Description: A sequel to Rada's "Canawlers", this tale takes the Fitzgerald canal boat family through the long winter of 1862-63 as they struggle to hold a family, canal boat and business together amid the joys and dangers of life on the C &O Canal.



The Grand Idea: George Washington's Potomac and the Race to the West


Author: Joel Achenbach


Description: A fun read with lots of history and information about George Washington.





You can't find a better value than Road Scholar.


As a not-for-profit organization, we are dedicated to providing all-inclusive educational programs at great value. From lectures to gratuities to field trips to accommodations - the tuition you pay up front is all that you pay.



Specifically, this program includes:

Plus these special experiences...

View the Daily Schedule to see more

And included with all Road Scholar programs:


© Road Scholar 2014 | Call toll-free: 1-800-454-5768