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Thanks to canal "veteran" Leland Orr for this suggested checklist. I can almost guarantee that you will get a flat along the way, so make sure you are able to handle this minor inconvenience. Also, don't forget bug repellent! These bugger can be real bad in some areas.

Before you leave:

Items to bring along

  • Bug Repellent (IMPORTANT!)
  • Extra Tube (IMPORTANT!)
  • Patch Kit (IMPORTANT)
  • Tire Pump
  • Bell or Horn (Required by NPS)
  • Extra Spokes
  • Dual Water Bottles or Camelback
  • Multi-use Bike Tool
  • Chain Lube
  • Pocket Knife
  • Helmet
  • Eye Wear (Sunglasses)
  • Bike Lock
  • Sun Screen
  • Towel
  • Clothes
  • Padded Bike Shorts
  • Power Bars
  • ID, Credit, Cash
  • Flashlight (for Paw Paw Tunnel)
  • First Aid Kit
  • Matches or Lighter
  • Toiletries
  • Wet Towelettes
  • Trash Bags
  • Miscellaneous (always useful)

If you plan to camp, then here are a few other items you will probably need:

  • Tent
  • Tent Pad or Tarp
  • Cloth line
  • Cook ware
  • Bungee Cables
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Stove
  • Dehydrated Food or MRE

Also, the C&O is a Trash Free Park. This means you MUST carry out your own trash! You might want to bring a few small trash bags, if you think it might help.


I've received several inquiries about rules regarding helmet use. Basically, I always wear a helmet, so I really don't know (or care) if there are any helmet requirements. I do know that some counties along the towpath DO required helmets for folks under 17. Of course, any normal kid won't wear a helmet if his parents "opt out".

If you are really concerned about breaking any helmet rules, please contact the park service.