People often ask, "How do I get to the start?" or
"How to I get back when I finish?". You could try to convince a friend or relative to give
you a lift, but that will use up a lot of favors! (It's a nearly five hour
round trip drive). Here are some other ideals:
There are some shuttle services between the trailheads. However, be forewarned!
These services are often reliable, but not always. My experience is that these services typically
start off very well, but eventually begin to fade (i.e. stop answering phone calls, miss pickups, charge more than advertised price).
To avoid problems, be sure to confirm price ahead of time (in writing). Expect to pay a deposit, but avoid pre-payment in full.
Also, please keep me advised of BOTH positive and negative experiences. You may also check with the
National Park Service for other options.
- Freedom Trail Riders
has been offering shuttle services since 2000. I understand that they have remained quite reliable.
These groups offer full service bike tour packages in the Potomac Valley. Note that they may contract with
one of the shuttle companies listed above.
- Get Out & Go Tours LLC
offers fully supported bike tours featuring indoor lodging and return transportation
along the C&O Canal Towpath and the Great Allegheny Passage trail.
Located in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, they also offer local bike rentals for extended business travelers to Washington.
- Mountainside Bike Tours offers
tour packages along the Towpath and the Great Allegheny Passage trail.
For groups of 2 to 20.
- River Riders in Harpers Ferry, WV offers several
bike rental tour packages. They also offer
other services such as river rafting, kayak tours, and summer camps.
|Hertz Rental Car Locations|
|Wayne's Citgo Station
322 South Centre Street
301 722 2522
|901 11th St. NW
202 628 6174
Car Rental is probably the best option.
Hertz offers one-way rentals for around $100, depending on the car size.
The Cumberland location is less than a mile from the trailhead. The DC
Location is a bit over a mile, across the downtown area. An optional pickup
point is Reagan National Airport, which is reached by way of a very pleasant
five mile bike ride on the paved Mount Vernon Trail
Another great idea is to rent a one-way U-haul
or Budget truck. U-haul rental sites are located
within easy biking distance of the trail heads (Cumberland, MD and Arlington, VA).
This will cost about $150-$250 for a small truck. Best rates will probably be for mid-week rentals.
If you go this route, be sure to reserve well in advance.
Short answer: Don't waste your time! However, this may be an option for DC-to-Pittsburgh.
Long Answer: There is direct Amtrak train service between Washington
and Cumberland on the Capitol Limited (Train 29 and 30)
and it costs around $40 one-way (per person). However, bicycle loading/unload is not permitted
in Cumberland!* The issue is that Amtrak requires that bicycles be checked as luggage into
the baggage cars. Since Cumberland is an unmanned station, no one is available to remove checked luggage.
(argh!). Note that Pittsburgh does have checked baggage service, so the train might be an option for folks doing
the Great Allegheny Passage.
Several years ago, a reader was incorrectly informed by several reservation agents that he could carry his bike
on and then remove it himself at Cumberland. However, when he arrived at Union Station with ticket in hand,
he received a BIG hassle. Everyone he ran into told him that he wouldn't be able to get on the train.
When he got to the train, however, the conductor told him that normally they don't allow bikes on the
train, but since he was already there and had a ticket, the conductor cut him a break (I've actually heard
this same story before. Sometimes the conductor will let you sneak the bike on). Once the reader got his
bike on the train, he got even more hassle from an Amtrak official. The official want to know the names
of the reservations agents so this "mistake" would not happen again.
If you really wish to use the train, you could try the following: Drive to Cumberland, bike down
the towpath to DC, secure your bike somewhere locally, and then catch the 4:00 pm train back to
Cumberland to retrieve your car. This wacky scheme works reasonably well if you live in the DC area
(you can secure your bike at home), but it does not work so well if you are from out-of-town. BTW, the
alternate option (driving to DC) does not work very well. The train leaves Cumberland around 8am, so
this would most certainly require an extra night stay at Cumberland.
* Bagged folding bikes (ex Bike Friday)
are considered to be normal luggage and can be hand carried on the train.