Road Scholar : Home
Biking the C&O Canal Towpath

Program Number: 13306RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/28/2014 - 10/3/2014; 4/12/2015 - 4/17/2015; 5/3/2015 - 5/8/2015; 5/10/2015 - 5/15/2015; 5/31/2015 - 6/5/2015; 9/13/2015 - 9/18/2015; 10/25/2015 - 10/30/2015;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Sharpsburg, Maryland
Price starting at: $925.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Bicycling; National Parks Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 15; 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Fat; Vegetarian; Low Salt; Gluten Free    

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal provides 185 miles of beautiful, tree-lined towpath for biking. Led by experts, each day bike a new segment of the trail, ranging from 15-30 miles. Follow the path of the canal westward from Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, Md., on a safe and memorable ride through the nation’s early history.




Highlights

• Learn more about the C&O Canal at the Canal Place Museum in Cumberland at the terminus of the canal.
• Experience the nearly mile-long Paw Paw Tunnel, one of the amazing engineering wonders of the canal.
• Take an expert-led walk around historic Harper's Ferry following the steps of John Brown and his Raiders and more.



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, 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.



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. NOTE: Avid cyclists may want to try program #18629, Bike the Entire C&O Canal: One of America’s Most Distinctive National Parks, which offers a more challenging level of daily bicycling activities along the canal, with an activity level of Challenging.



Coordinated by Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center.




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
Modern lodge with natural spring, pavilion, fireplace, campfire circles. Alcohol prohibited.

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

Colleen Clark is a former ranger at Antietam National Battlefield, where she presented programs on period music and the Battle of Antietam. She has degrees in history and music from the University of Maryland. Colleen has been combining her interests in performing arts programs for more than 20 years.
 
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
  Sharpsburg, MD 5 nights
 Shepherd's Spring
Type: Conference Center
  Description: Situated at mile 83 along the Canal Towpath, Shepherd's Spring has 220 acres of woodland and rolling meadows. Hiking trails and a natural spring are on the property.
  Contact info: 16869 Taylors Landing Road
Sharpsburg, MD 21782 USA
phone: 301-223-8193
web: www.shepherdsspring.org
  Room amenities: Rooms are simple and comfortable and include a luggage rack, dresser, desk, chair, and futon. Telephone and television are available in the common areas.
  Facility amenities: Many hiking trails and an outdoor seasonal half olympic size pool are available for use. Limited wireless internet service is available in the common areas. TV and phone available in the common area.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights prior: $45.00 Call ahead for availability. 301-223-8193
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: $45.00 Call ahead for availability. 301-223-8193
  Check out time: 12:30 PM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
2 p.m., at the Conference Center. You will be staying at Shepherd's Spring that night.
  End of Program:
12:30 p.m., at the Conference Center. You will be staying at Shepherd's Spring the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. Health information form & bicycling experience questionnaire.
  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. Flight service now available to Hagerstown Regional Airport from BWI - 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, OR take the train into Washington, DC and ride the METRO system light rail to Shady Grove for pickup.

 
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, April 12)

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



   
 Afternoon: 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
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Start the day at the end of the canal in historic Cumberland, Md. We will visit the Canal Place Museum then cycle through Oldtown, MD. Includes walking through the Paw Paw Tunnel.
(Monday, April 13)

Note: 19 miles of cycling, with an option to bike an additional 10 miles to the Pap Paw Tunnel (others may choose to ride in the van to the tunnel).



   
 Breakfast: Enjoy a hot buffet style breakfast along with fresh fruit and cereal selections in the Shepherd's Spring lodge dining room.
 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. Pose for pictures under the C &O Canal sign and then begin the journey by bicycle from mile 184 at Cumberland. Stop at lock #75, the first we'll see to examine the ruins, then on to Spring Gap. (9 miles).
 Lunch: Enjoy a lovely picnic lunch along the Potomac River at Spring Gap.
 Afternoon: Then bicycle from Spring Gap toward Oldtown, established by early settler Thomas Cresap (10 miles). Choose to either load into the vans and drive to the Paw Paw Tunnel or ride the additional 10 miles to the Paw Paw Tunnel. Explore the Paw Paw Tunnel with a flashlight - or keep your eye on the light at the end of the tunnel!
 Dinner: Enjoy a buffet style dinner with a salad bar, followed by dessert, in the Shepherd's Spring lodge dining room.
 Evening: Join one of our experts as they discuss the origins and tell the story of how the C&O Canal transitioned from a working industrial canal to a National Park renowned for its tranquility.
   
Accommodations: Shepherd's Spring
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Bicycle from scenic Hancock, MD to Williamsport, MD where a restored canal basin and depot exist. Cyclists will also be traveling over several aqueducts and near the 18th century stone fort, Ft. Frederick.
(Tuesday, April 14)

Note: 25 miles of cycling along the canal towpath.



   
 Breakfast: Enjoy a hot breakfast buffet along with fresh fruit and cereal selections in the Shepherd's Spring lodge dining room.
 Morning: Travel about one hour by van to Hancock. Bicycle from Hancock to McCoy's Ferry, passing several aqueducts and the "Big Pool" area. 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 (14 miles).
 Lunch: Enjoy a picnic lunch at McCoy's Ferry- one of many former ferry sites along the river.
 Afternoon: Continue bicycling past the Four Locks area and Dam #5, into Williamsport and the Cushwa Basin (11 miles). See the Conococheague Aqueduct with one wall missing from a mishap with a canal boat. Do not forget to take the short trek down to a unique railroad lift bridge as well as a restored lock and lock house. After this it is just a short van ride back to Shepherd's Spring at the end of the ride.
 Dinner: Enjoy a buffet style dinner with a salad bar, followed by dessert, in the Shepherd's Spring lodge dining room.
 Evening: Travel the geographic formation of the Potomac River Basin with our geologist guide.
   
Accommodations: Shepherd's Spring
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Bicycling to the restored Monocacy Aqueduct, with a visit to historic Harper's Ferry. An evening presentation on the relationship of canal and railroad concludes the evening.
(Wednesday, April 15)

Note: 26 miles of cycling with approximately an hour of walking in Harper's Ferry.



   
 Breakfast: Enjoy a hot breakfast buffet along with fresh fruit and cereal selections in the Shepherd's Spring lodge dining room.
 Morning: Travel by van a short distance to Antietam Aqueduct to begin the day's ride. From there cycle to Harpers Ferry (9 miles). There will be time to take a short walk across the river bridge into Harpers Ferry for independent exploration of this historic town by foot. Home of John Brown's fort, Civil War history, Lewis and Clark outfitters, Storer College and 19th century manufacturing, it has also seen the problems encountered when two mighty rivers collide. We continue bicycling from Harpers Ferry to the railroad hub of Brunswick for a lunch stop. (5 miles)
 Lunch: Enjoy a picnic lunch in Brunswick, just past the Railroad yards.
 Afternoon: Bicycle from Brunswick to the restored 7 arch Monocacy Aqueduct, considered one of the greatest engineering achievements of the canal (12 miles). Pass by the scenic Railroad station at Point of Rocks along the way. The return trip to Shepherd's Spring will include a drive through tour 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: Join us for a slide show presentation of some of yesterday's scenery as it looked during the operation of the canal with the same photographs taken in recent years. Randy Anderson leads the presentation while delving into the relationship between the canal, the railroads, and the people of the area. You'll recognize many of the sites from yesterday's ride.
   
Accommodations: Shepherd's Spring
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Bicycling from Swain's Lock 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, April 16)

Note: 16 miles of cycling on the towpath with some walking (less than a mile) out to the Great Falls. The Canal Boat ride is done seated traveling over placid water.



   
 Breakfast: Enjoy a hot buffet breakfast in the Dining Room with fruit and cereal selections. Prepare for the Washington, DC commute to begin today's bicycling
 Morning: Travel more than an hour by van to Swains Lock to begin today's ride. Bicycle from Swains Lock to Great Falls (2 miles) with great views of the Potomac River. Sit back and enjoy an interpreted mule-drawn canal boat ride provided by the National Park Service, then a relaxed picnic lunch. There will be time to see the majestic Great Falls before we continue our journey into Georgetown.Visit the Great Tavern museum. Canal Boat ride is subject to schedules of the National Park Service
 Lunch: Enjoy a picnic lunch at Great Falls along a portion of the canal with water!
 Afternoon: Visit Great Falls taking the foot path out to the edge of the Falls for an understanding of why the Canal was built in the first place. Bicycle from Great Falls to Georgetown. (14 miles). The last couple miles are on a paved path called the Capital Crescent trail. The ride ends under the expressway. More than 18 locks on today's ride with quaint lockhouses and sometimes riding within view of the freeway gives one perspective on preserving this National treasure. Glimpses of the Washington Monument and the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts as we near the end of today's ride.
 Dinner: Return to Shepherd's Spring for a wonderful banquet meal on the last evening of the program.
 Evening: The evening is concluded with song and music from the canal era presented by a local soloist. A great way to relax after the banquet.
   
Accommodations: Shepherd's Spring
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: A short ride along some historic landmarks of the canal concludes the week's ride.
(Friday, April 17)

Note: 12 more miles to complete a century ride (100 miles).



   
 Breakfast: Enjoy a hot buffet style breakfast along with fresh fruit and cereal selections in the Shepherd's Spring lodge dining room.
 Morning: Start the ride at historice McMahon's Mill and travel along the Big slackwater section of the river where the towpath has recently been restored with a series of concrete flood-proof bridges. Continue past Taylors Landing - once known as Mercersburg, Travel past caves and farm fields staying close to the river's edge to end the ride at Antietam Campground.
 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


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.



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.



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.



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