Author Topic: C&O trail  (Read 1783 times)

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Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: C&O trail
« Reply #30 on: August 04, 2021, 08:34:42 am »
Towpath Resurfacing Project
https://www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/towpath-resurfacing-project.htm

The most recent phase of resurfacing stretches from Whites Ferry (Mile 35) to Brunswick (Mile 54). This phase of work was completed as of April 1, 2020. When work is active, visitors may see temporary horseback riding restrictions. Please read more on our Horseback Riding page.

Visitors will now be able to enjoy nearly 56 miles of resurfaced towpath between Swains Lock (Mile 16.5) and Ferry Hill (Mile 73)

The goal of the resurfacing project is threefold:

To maintain the historic integrity and character of the towpath
To maintain the durability of the towpath during high water and flood events
To provide a smooth, level surface for hikers, bikers, and visitors who utilize the towpath on a daily basis
The resurfacing techniques are not catered to one particular usage group, such as runners or bicyclists. Rather, the park is piloting a new resurfacing model to make the towpath as durable as possible for all park users.

What are the resurfaced layers made of?
The towpath is NOT being paved. The base layer of the new towpath surface is crush and run gravel, also known as CR-6. The top layer is stone dust, also known as AASHTO-10. The crush and run layer creates an adequate drainage system, so that heavy rainfall can easily drain off the towpath. The stone dust layer at the top adds a nice, smooth surface.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2021, 08:40:28 am by HikeBikeCook »
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Offline staehpj1

Re: C&O trail
« Reply #31 on: August 04, 2021, 08:46:56 am »
It sounds like a reasonable approach.  A 2" layer of CR-6 and another 2" of AASHTO-10 sounds fairly harmless since the trail isn't going to be in some pristine historical state in any case.  I hope any resulting increased usage isn't too damaging and doesn't result in demands for too many more "improvements".

Offline TCS

Re: C&O trail
« Reply #32 on: August 04, 2021, 09:34:21 am »
'Development.'

'Wilderness.'

I'll ask what the baseline is?  1924, when the canal fell into disuse?  1831, when this industrial transportation conduit was first opened?  Shall we tear out the locks, restore the land to how it was in 1491 and require limited-issue back country permits for use?

'...places where the trail is really rough with roots, ruts, & rocks...'

I'm unsure what historical era that is supposed to be replicating and preserving.  That's certainly not the way it was when mules were pulling barges along the canal.  The historical images I find show that after they went to the trouble and expense of digging the canal and building the locks, they built a really pretty decent pathway alongside, as one would expect for efficient equine draft.  During the active years of the C&O the mules and teamsters weren't slogging through deep mud and stumbling across rough terrain.

'...budget...'

$3,500,000,000,000 and we don't have the money?    ;D
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: C&O trail
« Reply #33 on: August 04, 2021, 09:46:01 am »
Development really began when young George Washington owned a raft transportation company and surveyed the ledges that his riverboat drivers had trouble with. He began blasting away sections to allow them to navigate easier. I think the native Americans (are/were they really native, since they too seem to have migrated from Asia or Europe in the way back of time) took a gentler approach to nature. 
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Offline Pat Lamb

Re: C&O trail
« Reply #34 on: August 04, 2021, 11:12:26 am »
It sounds like a reasonable approach.  A 2" layer of CR-6 and another 2" of AASHTO-10 sounds fairly harmless since the trail isn't going to be in some pristine historical state in any case.  I hope any resulting increased usage isn't too damaging and doesn't result in demands for too many more "improvements".

Well, no, no, and yes.  No, there were some spots when I rode parts of the trail (7 years ago?) where the mud and water were deeper than 4".  In addition, they'll have to dig some drainage facilities to get the water out of those low spots, either toward the canal or the river.

No again, on a warm summer day, it's really, really nice to ride through the overhanging trees.  Those overhanging trees had to go to get the heavy equipment in, so the resurfaced parts were cleared maybe 30-40' wide.

Yes, wow, those newly surfaced parts were sweet to ride!

Offline John Nettles

Re: C&O trail
« Reply #35 on: August 04, 2021, 11:41:12 am »
It appears there is an active plan to resurface at least 80 miles of the towpath.  The organization leading these efforts is Canaltrust.org.  Be interesting to hear their perspective on this discussion.
This is the power of the ACA Forums!!  ;D

EDIT:  As I go down my emails, I see that others posted similar things.  My apologies.

Seriously, that is interesting.  They, in conjunction with the Allegheny Trail Alliance, are implementing resurfacing, at least along parts of the canal.  It looks like they have resurfaced (root removal, graded, and added gravel dust) about 57 miles of the more urgently needed areas so far.

Thanks for posting this.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2021, 11:45:19 am by John Nettles »

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: C&O trail
« Reply #36 on: August 04, 2021, 12:02:17 pm »
What is disturbing is how much has already been done and the original poster's lament as to the current conditions. Started by saying she is CURRENTLY riding the trail.
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Offline aggie

Re: C&O trail
« Reply #37 on: August 04, 2021, 02:25:04 pm »
I stand by my original post.  The trail conditions are atrocious from Cumberland to Sheperdstown.  From Sheperdstown to Harpers Ferry the trail surface is improved and I did not notice any removed trees.  Still plenty of shade and wildlife.  I have finished riding the trail and can’t tell you how many miles are resurfaced.  Most of the distance between Harpers Ferry and DC is bad.  Not sure exactly where the improved trail ends but the entire trail except for the currently improved section needs work.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2021, 03:33:06 pm by aggie »

Offline John Nettles

Re: C&O trail
« Reply #38 on: August 04, 2021, 03:54:31 pm »
Did you happen to take any pics of the trail surface? 

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: C&O trail
« Reply #39 on: August 04, 2021, 04:02:10 pm »
Again, if the NPS "improves" other Historical Parks like Colonial National Historical Park (Yorktown) and Saratoga National Historical Park (NY) with paved paths, roads, concessions, etc., what is so wrong about grading and applying a layer of crushed granite on the C&O?

Your "improving" is someone else's "diminishing".

Take urban expressway construction in the 1960s & 1970s.
Entire neighborhoods - usually minority, including my grandmother's - were levelled.
So that suburban commuters could get to work that much quicker.
It was great for middle class White folk - not so great for those who lost their communities.

We live in very different parts of America with different values and views of the natural world.
Most of us in Wyoming - Dem & GOP - are perfectly content to experience the natural world as it is.
When they paved Western highways after WWII, they would cut trees so people could have vista points.
You know - just pull off the road and shoot a Kodak picture.

In order to accomplish what you are suggesting, you would need to industrialize the trail.
To apply a crushed rock surface would require heavy equipment with the potential for damage.
Then there would be the need for maintenance - and then - and then -
Same goes for putting in pressurized water systems.

A person riding at 8 mph is no more than 2 hours from services, even on the western sections of the C&O.
Given how rare such an undeveloped environment is in the East, why alter it?
Because development tends to be unidirectional.

The Western Maryland Trail attracts a range of users that is different than C&O users.
I would guess that bike speeds are 50% to 100% faster on the WMT than the C&O.
It becomes a different experience.

There are dozens of paved and crushed rock bike trails in the East.
Why does the C&O have to be like them?

+1.

I think the some of the disappointment/frustration has its roots in considering the C&O a bike trail that is expressly maintained for cyclists. It's not. It's a former canal path one may experience by bike, among other means. As noted, there are competing interests that need to be balanced. And let's see what the recently improved section looks like in a few years.  I rode the GAP again last year and even that had some crappy sections due to rain, etc.  Having done the Hiawatha, the former right-of-way leading to it from Avery, ID, the east slope of the NorPac, some of the Olympian and most of the Mickelson, I have learned to take the good with the bad.  Definitely avoid those trails if you will be disappointed by not having consistently smooth surfaces.

Offline TCS

Re: C&O trail
« Reply #40 on: August 04, 2021, 04:07:40 pm »
'removed trees'

During the canal's active years there would have been no trees or shrubs or bushes between the sidepath and the canal due to the clearance requirement of the tow ropes.
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Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: C&O trail
« Reply #41 on: August 04, 2021, 04:41:01 pm »
We just rode the D&H Rail Trail in Vermont a few weeks back and were lamenting what a crappy trail surface it was and how it needed to be resurfaced. Then reading afterward, it turns out it had recently been resurfaced, but the material used was a very coarse gravel mixture that could knock your fillings out. That area is known for the Slate Valley Gravel Trail Network, so by comparison the surface is probably like a highway for mountain bikers and would have been more fun with our front suspension mountain bikes rather than our Disc Truckers with pretty fat tires. Everything is relative, one man's treasure, and all of that. Just be glad that someone had the willingness and courage to preservice it and you have the right to enjoy it.
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Offline TCS

Re: C&O trail
« Reply #42 on: August 04, 2021, 09:00:32 pm »
I think the some of the disappointment/frustration has its roots in considering the C&O a bike trail that is expressly maintained for cyclists...

I've pulled up maybe a half dozen articles this afternoon encouraging riders to tour 'the GAP and C&O from Pittsburg to D.C.'.  Only one mentioned that the two different paths under the auspices of two different managers are very different.  Pity the poor cyclist who leaves Pittsburg on their sport touring bike and winds up bounding over roots and ruts on the C&O double track.

Concrete, asphalt, crushed and packed stone...soft sand, mud, chunky rock, endless miles of tribulus terrestris - I've ridden them all, mostly without any more advance official information than a picture of a short section showing the very best of the surface.  To mitigate 'disappointment/frustration', promoters (government entities, non-profits, magazine/web authors) of paths/trails need to do a much better job of describing the physical nature of the trails.
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Offline staehpj1

Re: C&O trail
« Reply #43 on: August 05, 2021, 06:11:42 am »
I think the some of the disappointment/frustration has its roots in considering the C&O a bike trail that is expressly maintained for cyclists...

I've pulled up maybe a half dozen articles this afternoon encouraging riders to tour 'the GAP and C&O from Pittsburg to D.C.'.  Only one mentioned that the two different paths under the auspices of two different managers are very different.  Pity the poor cyclist who leaves Pittsburg on their sport touring bike and winds up bounding over roots and ruts on the C&O double track.

Concrete, asphalt, crushed and packed stone...soft sand, mud, chunky rock, endless miles of tribulus terrestris - I've ridden them all, mostly without any more advance official information than a picture of a short section showing the very best of the surface.  To mitigate 'disappointment/frustration', promoters (government entities, non-profits, magazine/web authors) of paths/trails need to do a much better job of describing the physical nature of the trails.
I don't know about that.  Anyone doing a tour on the full GAP and C&O could be reasonably expected to do some due diligence.  If at a minimum they were to google "biking C&O canal trail "  they would have found Bike Washington’s C&O Canal Bicycling Guide and The C&O Canal Trust Biking Along the Canal page.  Either of those would have given them some idea of what to expect.

Offline TCS

Re: C&O trail
« Reply #44 on: August 05, 2021, 07:58:11 am »
Then you would write off this entire thread as Aggie's lack of due diligence?
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."