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Come Ride The Great Bicycle Tour of the C&O Canal from Cumberland to Georgetown July 13 – 16, 2019

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Come Ride The Great Bicycle Tour of the C&O Canal from Cumberland to Georgetown

July 13 – 16, 2019

David T. Whitaker



Hey Potomac Pedalers - Have you ever wanted to bicycle the complete C&O Canal towpath from Cumberland down to Georgetown?  For many DC area cyclists, the C&O Canal ride is a “bucket list” item that many of us would like to do, although the logistics often prove to be an obstacle.

Well now, here is your opportunity to “Pedal the Potomac” along the complete C&O Canal and ride through our own incredibly scenic national park. The C&O Canal National Historical Park follows the Potomac River from historic Cumberland, Maryland through to Georgetown in the District of Columbia. The C&O Canal National Historical Park is the ninth most visited National Park in the nation, with over 5 million visitors a year. It features a 184.5 mile towpath that for most of the trail is adjacent to the Potomac River.  It is the ride to Washington that has been a mainstay for DC area cyclists since the 1970’s.

Check out the TGBT Ride video:

"The stretch of 185 miles of country from Washington, DC to Cumberland, MD is one of the most fascinating and picturesque in the Nation…It is a refuge, a place of retreat, a long stretch of quiet and peace…a wilderness area where we can commune with God and nature, a place not yet marred by the roar of wheels and the sound of horns." --  William O. Douglas, Associate Justice United States Supreme Court

The Great Bicycle Tour (TGBT) is a fully supported point to point bicycle tour of the C&O Canal that serves as an annual fundraiser for the San Mar Children’s Home near Boonsboro in Washington County, MD. It is a 4-Day cycling event that is tailored for both beginning cyclists to the hardened endurance athlete.

The TGBT Ride includes: 

  • Transportation by charter bus to the start of the C&O Canal.
  • All meals and snacks.
  • Free parking for your vehicle throughout the event.
  • Rest stops every ten to fifteen miles.
  • Camp fees paid for the first two nights or transportation to nearby hotels.
  • Hotel on the third night.
  • Transport of all gear throughout the event.
  • T-shirt, water bottle and a TGBT patch.
  • Return to your vehicle by charter bus from Georgetown at end of event.
  • A lifetime memory.

Best ridden on a gravel bike, mountain bike or hybrid, the C&O Canal towpath is a flat dirt surface trail which traverses forests, farmlands and historic bridges and tunnels usually within sight of the Potomac River. The route also includes the historic Paw Paw Tunnel, a 3,118 ft. tunnel that was completed in 1850, to allow barge travel through a mountainous area of Allegany County. The Paw Paw Tunnel is a “must ride” for thousands of U.S. and international cyclists each year, each sporting a functional head light for the trip through the mountain. 

Note: The TGBT is a fundraising event, although it is not prohibitive in price and can be ridden by those not seeking to raise thousands of dollars. It is considered affordable by many past riders judging by the services and facilities offered along the route.  The San Mar Children’s Home offers community services, family services and mental health services to children and youths in Washington County. San Mar is also a long time supporter of bicycling and bicycle events in the Hagerstown area and is the host location for the annual Cumberland Valley Century in Washington County.

Both camping and hotel options are available to riders along with meals, sagging and rest stops.


For additional information or for registration information on the TGBT:


Historical background:  The Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal was started in 1828 as canal construction project to provide access from Georgetown to the commercial wealth in the Ohio Valley. Eclipsed by Baltimore’s B&O Railroad, the C&O Canal operated from 1834 to 1924.  Communities grew along the canal as coal, lumber and agricultural products floated down the waterway to market. After closing due to destruction from floods, the canal and towpath fell into disrepair. It was proposed for a highway corridor in the 1950’s. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas rallied support for developing the C&O Canal as a linear park, and in 1971, it was formally designated as a National Historical Park.

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