23836
Maryland

Choose Your Pace: Biking C&O Canal National Historic Park

Take a ride into the past as you bike the best parts of the C&O Canal, delving into Civil War sites, cycling through Paw Paw’s Tunnel and discovering historic towns along the trails.
Program No. 23836RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
999
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6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5 B 4 L 5 D
DAY
1
Check-In, Registration, Orientation, C&O Canal History
Sharpsburg, MD
D
Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center

Activity note: Check-in available from 3:00 p.m. Participants using the facility's bikes will test and fit bikes and helmets at 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 3:00-5:00 p.m. After you have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table in the conference center lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing the up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, daily biking, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. If you will be borrowing a bike, we will fit bikes and helmets and test riders at 4:00 p.m. so bikes can be loaded for tomorrow’s ride. For those bringing personal bikes, Shepherd’s Spring staff can inspect and make recommendations, such as tire pressure, if requested. Prior to the evening meal, feel free to walk around and explore the campus and various hiking trails.

Dinner: In the Shepherd's Spring Dining Room, we’ll have a buffet dinner with salad bar and dessert plus beverage choices of coffee, tea, water; other beverages and snacks are available for purchase in the Lodge Store. (Shepherd's Spring is an alcohol-free facility.)

Evening: Orientation: 6:30 p.m. The Group Host will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This is a Road Scholar Retreats program. Our programming at Retreat locations includes opportunities for light morning exercise, interaction with members of the local community, a farm-to-table meal, and evening entertainment. We will become familiar with rules of the trail and our ride leaders. We’ll also have an introduction to the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park and distribute detailed daily itineraries with time for questions and answers on the park and the rides. For each biking field trip, we will ride in the sag wagon (typically 15-passenger vans) to the beginning point, then everyone will bike at their own pace with a staff lead at the head of the ride and a staff “caboose” (sweep) at the end. Most days will feature a choice between 2 routes, one longer and one shorter. There will be established pull-out points where we will stop until the caboose arrives and we take a head count. At the end of the ride, we will return to the lodge in the sag wagon. Stretching sessions available each morning. Bring your own reusable water bottles; sag wagon will have water for refills. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Host will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Bike Cumberland – MD, to Little Orleans Via Paw Paw Tunnel
Sharpsburg, MD
B,L,D
Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 73 miles, approximately 1 hour to start point. Return drive to hotel is about 54 miles, approx. 1 hour. Pre-breakfast stretching. Biking between 25 and 41 miles throughout the day, based on your pace selection; 4 available pull-out points at Spring Gap (mile marker 175), Old Town (mile marker 173), Paw Paw Tunnel (mile marker 159) and Little Orleans (mile marker 139). Generally flat, unpaved trail.

Breakfast: In the Shepherd’s Spring Dining Room, the breakfast buffet offers hot choices as well as cereal selections and fresh fruit with beverage choices of milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We will travel to the terminus of the C&O Canal in historic downtown Cumberland, Maryland. While the bicycles are being unloaded and readied, we will visit the C&O Canal Visitors Museum in the historic Western Maryland Railroad Station (1913). Park Service staff will be available to answer questions during our self-directed exploration. We’ll then mount our bikes and ride towards Oldtown, which was established by early settler Thomas Cresap and is the site of a Shawnee river crossing. At about midday, we will encounter the Paw Paw Tunnel where we will dismount for lunch. According to the National Park Service website, “To save building six miles of canal along the river, the C&O Canal company decided to construct a tunnel through a steep topographic ridge now called Tunnel Hill. When work began on the tunnel in 1836, the builders estimated the project would be complete within two years. The tunnel ultimately required 14 years to complete.”

Lunch: At the Paw Paw Tunnel, we’ll have boxed lunches served picnic-style with soft drinks and water.

Afternoon: After lunch, we will walk our bikes by headlamp through the 3,118-foot tunnel. Riders will then choose to either return through the tunnel or continue for the additional 25 miles to Little Orleans. Those who return through the tunnel will meet with the sag wagon and take a scenic ride over Town Hill. Both groups of riders will rendezvous in Little Orleans in the early evening for the van ride back to Shepherd's Spring.

Dinner: Dining room buffet.

Evening: We’ll gather at the Shepherd’s Spring Lodge with one of our expert instructors for an in-depth presentation on various aspects of the C&O Canal including the geography of the canal and Potomac River.

DAY
3
Little Orleans to Historic Fort Frederick
Sharpsburg, MD
B,L,D
Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 54 miles, approximately 1 hour to start point. Return drive to lodge is about 29 miles, approximately 1/2 hour. Pre-breakfast stretching. Biking between 14 and 28 miles throughout the day, based on your pace selection; 3 available pull-out points: Hancock (mile marker 125); Big Pool (mile marker 112) and Fort Frederick (mile marker 111). Generally flat, unpaved trail.

Breakfast: Dining room buffet.

Morning: Following a van ride to Little Orleans, riders may choose between a two biking routes. Choice one will begin in Little Orleans and go 28 miles to Fort Frederick with a stop in Hancock for lunch. Choice two will continue by van to Hancock and begin the 14-mile ride to Fort Frederick. Both groups will have time to visit the visitor center in Hancock where we will learn about the legacy of the area including the Yates and Bowles families who used to own this property.

Lunch: The long trip will break for a sack lunch in Hancock. The short trip will break for a sack lunch near the scenic Licking Creek Aqueduct.

Afternoon: Both groups will continue southeast with their riding instructors and rendezvous later in the afternoon at historic Fort Frederick, built in 1756, where we’ll stop for a leisurely field trip led by our Group Leader. The stone fort protected frontier settlers during the French and Indian War, served as a prison for captured British soldiers during the American Revolutionary War, and was active during the Civil War. Following our field trip, we will take the van back to Shepherd's Spring.

Dinner: Dining room buffet.

Evening: We’ll gather with one of our expert instructors for an in-depth presentation on local flora, fauna and edible wild plants. A tea making demonstration along with sampling will top off the evening.

DAY
4
Historic Harpers Ferry National Park
Sharpsburg, MD
B,L,D
Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 10 miles to start point, less than 1/2 hour. Return drive to hotel is about 22 miles, about 1/2 hour. Pre-breakfast stretching. Biking between 20 and 40 miles throughout the day, based on your pace selection; 4 available pull-out points: Snyder's Landing (mile marker 84), Taylor's Landing (mile marker 80), Antietam Creek (mile marker 69) and Harpers Ferry (mile marker 60). Generally flat, unpaved trail.

Breakfast: Dining room buffet.

Morning: Following a van ride to the Cushwa Basin in Williamsport, Maryland, riders may choose between two biking routes. Choice one is a 40 mile ride from Williamsport to Harpers Ferry, and choice two is a shorter ride of about 20 miles from Taylor's Landing to Harpers Ferry. Along the way, both groups will see the Conococheague Aqueduct with one wall missing from a mishap with a canal boat, then pass a unique railroad lift bridge as well as a restored lock and lock house. Along the Big Slackwater area, a series of concrete bridges holds the reconstructed towpath that had washed away from many years of flooding. The $17 billion flood-proof restoration was completed in 2012.

Lunch: The long trip will be breaking for a sack lunch near Shepherdstown. The short trip will be breaking to have sack lunches near Antietam Creek.

Afternoon: After a short walk across the river bridge, both groups will rendezvous in the town of Harpers Ferry for an independent walking exploration of this historic town. The launch site for the Lewis & Clark Expedition, John Brown's Fort, Storer College, and 19th- century manufacturing. It has also been the scene of devastating floods over the centuries as the point where two mighty rivers – the Potomac and the Shenandoah – collide. We’ll rendezvous at a predetermined time and place for our van transfer back to Shepherd's Spring.

Dinner: Dining room buffet.

Evening: We’ll gather for another expert-led presentation to learn about the relationship between the canal, the railroads, and the people of the area. By this time, our rides will have featured many of the sites shown.

DAY
5
Brunswick to Great Falls Virginia, Appalachian Music
Sharpsburg, MD
B,L,D
Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 23 miles to start point, approximately 1/2 hour. Return drive to hotel is about 62 miles, approximately 1.5 hours. Pre-breakfast stretching. Biking between 18 and 41 miles throughout the day, based on your pace selection; 4 available pull-out points: Point of Rocks (mile marker 48), Monocacy Aqueduct (mile marker 41), Edwards Ferry (mile marker 30), Washington Aqueduct (mile marker 14). Generally flat, unpaved trail.

Breakfast: Dining room buffet.

Morning: Boarding our vans, we will travel to Brunswick and bike from there to Great Falls of the Potomac (41 miles), passing 3 aqueducts on the way: Catoctin Creek, Monocacy, and Broad Run Trunk. Those wishing for a shorter trip may choose to take the route from Edwards Ferry to Great Falls (18 miles) where they will pass the Seneca Creek Aqueduct and several lock systems including Riley’s, Violettes, and Penny.

Lunch: Long riders will enjoy a sack lunch at Edward's Ferry, while short riders will have a sack lunch at Pennyfield Lock.

Afternoon: Both groups will rendezvous at the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center. From there, we’ll walk out to see the falls, witnessing their majesty and coming to an understanding of why the Potomac was not navigable. At the Visitor Center, park rangers or volunteers in period clothing (depending upon who is available), will tell stories of canal boat captains and their adventures on the C&O. Afterwards, we’ll transfer back to Shepherd's Spring.

Dinner: In the dining room, we’ll have a special buffet meal, during which our chef will highlight the ingredients in the dishes and talk about the local farms and other providers Shepherd’s Spring works with to provide locally-sourced meals. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: Next, we’ll ride to O'Hurley's General Store in nearby Shepherdstown, West Virginia, to enjoy music of the Appalachian region played by a rotating group of local musicians who have gathered every Thursday night for the past 30 years, playing instruments such as hammered dulcimers, guitars, and banjos. There will be opportunities to learn about the instruments and local musical history. We’ll also be able to interact with people from the local community. This is a real treat for the ears, eyes, snapping fingers, and tapping feet. Returning to Shepherd’s Spring, prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
6
Program Concludes
Sharpsburg, MD
B

Activity note: Pre-breakfast stretching. Lodge check-out by 10:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Dining room buffet. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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