C&O Canal: An Overnight Bicycle, History, and Lockhouse Tour
Pennsylvania Avenue to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — no cars allowed! Actually, cars didn’t exist: The C&O Canal opened in 1830. Almost a century after exiting the shipping business, the canal’s towpath (together with the Great Allegheny Passage) now provides a 335 mile non-motorized corridor that attracts outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs alike.
We’ll explore the first 30 miles of the canal by bicycle, setting a leisurely pace with frequent water and snack breaks at points of historical interest. After spending the night in a preserved 1860s era lockhouse, we’ll pedal back to D.C. the following day.
This outing is more logistically complex than many of our classes. Please read the following information.
- We’ll meet at the Key Bridge Boathouse at 10 a.m. on Saturday, and we should be back by the early afternoon on Sunday.
- The lockhouse will have a separate bed (within a shared room) for each participant.
- The lockhouse does not have heat or running water, but water will be available nearby.
- We plan to ride regardless of the weather. If it’s truly nasty out one day, we might adjust the route to use local roads that avoid heavy mud.
- The teacher is an enthusiast, but not an expert on the canal’s history. Please feel free to bring and share your own information about the canal and surrounding areas.
- We’re hoping to organize a support vehicle that can transport any items you don’t need while riding to the lockhouse. More details TBD once you register.
What to Bring
There is no cost to join the trip, but there are a number of things we’d like you to bring:
- A bike you are comfortable riding for several hours, along with a helmet
- A spare tube (or two) in case you get a flat
- Plenty of water and snacks for the ride
- A sleeping bag and/or blanket (sheets are not provided), and a pillow (a bundle of clothing can work well)
- Plenty of food to share with the group on Saturday evening and Sunday morning (we may be able to cook over a fire, but don’t rely on that)
- Any toiletries, medical supplies, or other items you need for an overnight trip
Am I Prepared?
Do you have a bike that’s suitable to riding on dirt mixed with occasional small rocks? Have you bicycled 40–50 miles in one day? (Or are you confident that you could if you had to?)
If so, you’ll be fine! We’ll cover 30 miles each day, for a total of 60 miles over two days. The terrain will be flat, but slightly bumpy at times; you won’t need a mountain bike, but you will appreciate tires wider than those on a standard road bike.
How to Register
Use the “Register for this class” button, just like any other class. Then email email@example.com to let us know a few things:
- A little bit about your bicycle and bicycling experience
- What interests you the most about this trip?
- Absent any last-minute emergencies, are you fully committed to attending?
- Do you have any questions for us?
You don’t need to be an expert bicyclist or outdoorsperson, and we’ll work with you to determine if the trip will be a good fit for you. But if we don’t hear from you within a few days, we will revoke your registration.
Key Bridge Boathouse
3500 Water St. NW
Washington, DC 20007
Shortly before Water Street becomes the Capital Crescent Trail