From Wednesday October 24 to Friday October 26, the Trail Town Outreach Corps went on our annual C&O Canal Towpath training trip. The C & O stretches from Washington, DC to Cumberland, MD where it connects with the Great Allegheny Passage to create a continuous 325 mile bike trail to Pittsburgh, PA. We stopped in a variety of towns along the trail. Our first stop was Paw Paw, WV where we walked to the beautiful Paw Paw tunnel. Then we stopped in Williamsport, MD where the trailhead, located at the Cushwa basin, had an informative visitors center. On the second day of our trip we enjoyed exploring downtown Shepherdstown, WV, seeing the historic setting of Harpers Ferry, WV, and touring the historical museum in Brunswick, MD. Each of these towns was a unique piece of American history, and we enjoyed meeting with stakeholders in each of these towns. Many of their experiences working in trail network member towns were similar to our experiences working in GAP towns. Each of the towns faced challenges in directing trail users into the towns where they could find services and enjoy the local attractions. We finished up the third day of our trip at Great Falls in VA. Here there was a great visitors center and museum, as well as a beautiful look out onto the Great Falls of the Potomac river. During the trip we stayed in lock houses, where the lockmasters of the C&O Canal used to live. Staying in these houses was a fun step back in time, as they were decorated for specific decades. As part of the trip, we biked portions of the C & O Canal trail to see how the experience compares to the Great Allegheny Passage. The trail surface of the C & O Canal is rougher, and the trail felt a little wilder. Both trails are a lot of fun to ride and walk.
~Cara Madden and Michelle Rapp