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Ride Info

Ride Overview

Pittsburgh to DC: The GAP and CO Trails

This Ride has been Cancelled

  • Arrival
  • 9/23/2024
  • Departure
  • 10/6/2024
  • Ride Director
  • Albert Balingit
  • Starting Location
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Finishing Location
  • Washington DC
  • Estimated Cost †
  • $3100
  • Deposit
  • $1600
  • Number of Riders
  • 7 (min. 18 /max. 24)
  • Space Available
  • 17
  • No. of Pending Riders
  • 0

Ride Rating

1C  Warning - Read the Description Carefully

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† Explanation of BAC Ride Fee – This fee is not included in the Estimated Cost and is non-refundable once submitted. The Ride Fee for US and Canada is $85 and $100 for all other countries, both are per participant.

Ride Director Comments

Co-Director and Driver are TBD.

Ride Description


This will be the fourth time this tour is being offered by BAC.  All four tours, including the 2022 tour led by Albert Balingit, received excellent reviews.

Its 335 miles of almost car free cycling- the 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage (“GAP”) and the 185-mile Chesapeake and Ohio Rail Trail (C&0) -joined together for a dream-like route from Pittsburgh to Washington DC. It is the creation of multitude of volunteer community organizations banding together in their quest to create these two trails. The GAP is an old railroad bed, and the C&O was a former path for boats to be towed down a human-made 185-mile canal, made obsolete by the building of the nearby railroad.

Completed in the summer of 2013, the GAP is a rail trail through rural Pennsylvania and Maryland. The trail starts in downtown Pittsburgh at Point State Park located at the confluence of three rivers:  Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio, and ends in Cumberland, Maryland, following the path of four former railways. The trail passes directly by numerous historic sites, through tunnels, over sky high trestles with drop-dead views and bridges refurbished just for bikers and hikers and within a few thousand feet (as the crow flies) of Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwater home, though actually connecting to it by bike is a longer, hilly ride. The trail has a hard packed surface that rolls well, with good drainage and modest slope inclines.

The C&O Towpath, once a thoroughfare for commercial goods on barges that were towed by horses and mules, was saved from becoming yet another highway in 1954 by United States Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. Justice Douglas organized an 8-day hike up the path to publicize his worthy cause. The trail today is 184.5 miles of dirt path following the north bank of the Potomac River from Cumberland, Maryland to downtown Washington, DC. Hikers and bikers enjoying the trail can expect to see deer, blue herons, and turtles in epic numbers many times of the year. Trail conditions are softer and less well-drained than the GAP, making travel during rains slower and messy, though still quite possible.

There is shuttle service from the GAP to the Flight 93 Memorial located 23 miles from the GAP trail.  There is also a shuttle service for the four-mile distance from the GAP trail in Ohiopyle to Fallingwater, a house designed by noted architect Frank Lloyd Wright.  We may organize a tour to both sites from Pittsburgh.

For an overview of the whole route, click here TotalRoute

In order to fully-appreciate the sites and wonders of the route, click on this link:  View the pages of this site if you are not yet convinced to sign up.

Our first three nights will be spent in Pittsburgh, giving you two complete days to tour Pittsburgh, by bike with some of the highlights being the Andy Warhol Museum, cycling along the beautiful bike paths, and taking South Side’s inclines.  Our last three nights will be spent in Washington DC, and you will have two full days to explore this city. Choices will be tough since DC if chockful of activities such as visiting some of the 21 free Smithsonian Institution museums including the National Museum of African American History.  There are numerous destinations for cycling such as the ride to Mt. Vernon.  (See The Ride Leaders have spent a considerable amount of time in both Pittsburgh and Washington D.C. and know them well.

Health and Safety: Participants should be vaccinated for Covid and be prepared to present vaccination documentation for viewing by the Ride Leader.

Prior to the final payment for the tour, an infectious disease plan will be developed and communicated. The plan will identify possible actions for dealing with persons with an infectious disease on the tour that could affect their ability to ride or the health of others in the group. The plan will include items such as isolation protocols, testing, masking, distancing, and leaving the tour.


The tour is rated as a 1C with an average daily distance of 49.2 miles and an elevation gain of 889 feet, and elevation drop of 987 feet. There are seven required riding days.  The average elevation gain per mile is 18 feet. (For an excel file of daily distances, and elevation gain and loss click here.) There are no steep climbs. There are several required riding days of roughly 60 miles or more: (1) Pittsburgh to Connellsville, 62 miles; (2) Cumberland to Hancock 59.5 and (3) Harper’s Ferry to Georgetown, 64 miles.  There is a short riding day of 15 miles (Shepherdstown to Harper’s Ferry) which gives you the opportunity the day before for a full-day visit to the Antietam National Battlefield. See also National Public Radio story of the monument.  Remember you are not cycling on smooth pavement, and 60 miles on the C&O dirt path is much more difficult than 60 miles on the road.

From Pittsburgh to Cumberland, the distance is 153 miles with an elevation gain of 4289 feet and loss of 4423 feet.  The elevation gain per mile is 18 feet, with 50 feet per mile considered difficult.  From Cumberland to Washington DC, the distance is 191 miles with an elevation gain of 482 feet, and an elevation loss of 623. You could say that the route from Cumberland to Washington DC is slightly downhill.

You reach the highest point around the 136-mile mark-the Eastern Continental Divide- before the 3,394 foot long Big Savage Tunnel. After the Eastern Continental Divide, the route has a slight 2% grade down for about 20 miles.


The average temperatures in Pittsburgh and DC in October range from 45-69 degrees with six days of rain.  Cool weather gear such as arm warmers, knee warmers, shoe covers, and inclement weather gear (rain jacket) are necessary.  You should bring with you walking shoes in case of a bike breakdown on the trail. Most lodging along the trail support cyclists and will have hoses for you to wash down your bike.


We will attempt to use the same lodging as our October 2022 tour and provide an extra day in Shepherdstown to give you the opportunity to visit for a full-day Antietam National Battlefield. Most of the lodging will be close to the route.  We will be sleeping in a hostel (Hostel on Main) and a 3-bedroom apartment in Rockwood, the fourth night on the trail. Linens and towels will be provided, and showers will be available. This arrangement will help keep mileage reasonable and keep us close to the trail. 


The tour starts on Monday, September 23, 2024, in Pittsburgh at our first hotel at 6:00 PM with our happy hour and our first group dinner.  You will have two full riding days to tour Pittsburgh after our first dinner. On Thursday, September 26, 2024, we touch our bike’s rear wheel on the approximately six-foot medallion in Point State Park, which is the permanent marker for the beginning of the GAP trail. On Thursday, October 3, 2024, we finish the trail at the granite monument of the Thompson Boat Center, signifying the end of the C&O trail in Georgetown.  Our tour ends in Washington, D.C. after breakfast on Sunday, October 6, 2024.

Here are the options you should consider for transportation: (1) Fly into Pittsburgh International Airport and take the Airport Shuttle into downtown , and then return home from Washington, D.C. via Ronald Reagan National Airport; (2) Drive to Pittsburgh and leave your car at a downtown parking lot at a cost  two weeks, and then take the Amtrak to return to Pittsburgh; (3) Park your car at Reagan National Airport, cycle to the Amtrak, and take it to Pittsburgh for the start. 

A U-Haul truck will be used to transport our luggage and bike boxes from hotel to hotel and is not for the purpose of transporting riders who are merely tired.  The U-Haul truck could be used for riders who are injured or sick, but its route could be distant from the trail, and you may need to walk a distance to be able to be picked up.  Riders are expected to show up in shape to be able to do the daily distances.

We do not ride in a group, and individuals have flexibility in leaving and arriving.

We will meet via zoom once or twice before the tour.


The C&O Towpath is mostly a “two rut” trail with two tire tracks separated by a grassy center, which tends to collect rainwater and create mud in wet conditions.  You should bring a bike with tires of a minimum width of 32 millimeters. Most tour companies recommend 1.5 inches or 38 mm to prevent your tires from sinking too deeply into those ruts and to absorb the uneven surface of the C&O.  The tires should also have treads. (See Tires) If you are buying tires which are wider than the tires currently on your bike, make sure that the tires fit and do not rub against the calipers.  It is best to consult with your local bike shop to determine the appropriate tire to place on your bike.

An important consideration is your saddle. This tour will be a good test of your ergonomics and saddle.  An uncomfortable saddle will add each day to make you more tired. If you are accustomed to always riding on a smooth surface, you should ride your bike on packed dirt to determine whether you have the appropriate saddle to absorb the bumps you will encounter on some portions of the C&O trail.  Most long-distance riders prefer leather saddles. You should put some thought into your choice of saddle.

Some riders have purchased seat posts which have a spring mechanism inside the post.

Your bike should also be equipped with fenders to ward off mud from your clothes.

You should also bring a bright bicycle light which you could place on your handlebar.  You will need the light to navigate and see in the long sometimes not lit tunnels.

E-bikes and tandems will be allowed on this tour. Previous participants using E-bikes did not need an extra battery if the E-bike was set to its most economical setting.  If you do not intend to use the most-economical setting, you should carry an extra battery.

For those renting a bike, many outfitters will rent bikes and return them to Pittsburgh for a fee.  We should be able to determine the most economical option a year before the tour.


The cost of this tour is $3100,  It includes 13 nights of lodging, five group dinners, nine breakfasts, most social hours, and luggage transport.  Lodging reservations will be finalized by January 2024. . Your costs do not include parking for your car, Amtrak tickets, or flight tickets. It includes gpx files, and pdf files, which will be uploaded to Ride Leader Docs on the BAC website. You will be responsible for printing the pdf files . The gpx files could be downloaded to a smart phone from the RWGPS webpage, and the Ride Leaders are willing to assist in the use of the gpx files.  The booklet Trail Guide-Travel the C&O Towpath and Great Allegheny Passage will be purchased for each participant. The initial deposit of $1600 is be due on signup. The second payment of $1,500 will be due on February 1, 2024. 


It is recommended that singles who want a roommate try to find their own. However, after receipt of the initial deposit, a single without a roommate will be placed on the ride and given until February 1, 2024, to find a roommate. If they are unable to find a roommate, they will have the option to receive a full refund (minus the BAC fee and payment processing fee) or pay the $1500 solo supplement and stay on the ride.  If a single pays the supplement, they may continue to seek a roommate, but must plan to participate without a roommate if necessary.  The Ride Leader will assist by attempting to match singles who apply for the ride.  Solo supplement payments need to be sent to the BAC office by February 1, 2024. Checks should be made out to “BAC” with a notation of the tour name included on the check.  They should be mailed to:  Bicycle Adventure Club, PO Box 23998, San Diego, CA 92193.


The BAC ride registration fee and payment processing fee is not refundable unless the entire tour is cancelled due to participation below stated minimum requirements.  Refunds of tour payments will depend upon whether a replacement rider signs up, and on costs that can be recouped.  The amount refunded will be based on the principle that the tour’s remaining participants will not incur any additional cost as a result of cancellations.  If the cancelling participant is replaced, a refund will be made at that time.  If the cancelling participant cannot be replaced, any refund will be determined after the ride and final expense report are completed.  If a single participant cancels and another roommate cannot be found, in addition to other costs that cannot be recouped the cancelling roommate may also be liable for the solo supplement fee of the roommate remaining on the tour.  BAC encourages members to purchase trip cancellation insurance.


If you are new to BAC bike tours, you should know that we expect our participants to be competent cyclists who can provide much of their own support while on the tour. You will be carrying and loading your own luggage. You will be assigned a certain day to assist in the preparation of the social hour.

Participants are expected to come to the ride well trained for cycling, in good health and ready to accomplish the required daily riding using well-maintained bicycles.  All participants should be prepared to accept personal responsibility for a safe and enjoyable tour.  Please be sure to read the ride description carefully and respond promptly to calls for payments and emails from the ride leader.  While on the ride, consider offering to help with various tasks such as happy hour preparation.  All our Ride Leaders are volunteers, and we ask that participants respect their decisions.


Before participating in any BAC tour, you should assess whether your medical and travel insurance coverage is sufficient. BAC maintains insurance that covers expenses related to accidents. This coverage applies when touring inside the US, regardless of your nationality. It’s assumed that members’ personal insurance will cover medical emergencies such as sudden and unexpected sickness, so these have not been included in the BAC policy. Coverage is subject to a $1000 deductible. You may want to consider personal coverage for emergency evacuation, as this is not included. The costs of treatment or quarantine for Covid and other unexpected illnesses are not covered. You should ensure that your vaccinations are up to date.


To submit a request to join this ride use the "links" displayed above this Ride Description.  When you are accepted, the Ride Leader will move you from the Waitlist to the Pending List.  At this time, you will receive an email notification to login to the BAC website to sign the release of liability form and pay the non-refundable BAC ride registration fee and the initial tour deposit of $2000.  You will have five business days to pay the deposit, or you will be moved to the waitlist.   As soon as your deposit has been processed, your name(s) will be added to the Participant List.  To contact the Ride Leader, "click" the name at the top of this Ride Description.




Bicycle Adventure Club
PO BOX 23998 San Diego, CA 92193
Telephone (858) 715-9510

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