First View of the Morning

Hancock, Maryland is an interesting little town with a couple of excellent restaurants (Weaver’s and Park-n-Dine), and it has become a sort of home-away-from-home over the years. While there, we rested, ate well, and cleaned the chains on the bikes as we prepared to leave for day two of our journey–destination Harpers Ferry!

Enjoying the downhill glide at Four Locks

Over the first few miles, there were a several more downed trees, but we were extremely tired of taking pictures of storm debris. In fact, while tree hopping we became somewhat lethargic. We needed a boost, but we didn’t have a clue what it would be. That’s when we rounded the bend and came to Four Locks. At this point on the trail, the C&O cuts across a narrow neck along the Potomac, and in the old days, the water was raised a considerable height by a system of locks. Let me explain! We had an easy half-mile downhill run that literally changed our attitude the rest of the day.

A Change of Scenery...

This looks like a great place to stop for a break!

Dam 5 is a beautiful structure that was originally built to supply the canal with water. Today, the canal is dry most of the way, but the dam creates a long pool that is great for boaters and fishermen alike.

And then there’s the detour, the dreaded 6 miles of pedaling on the open road. Back in ’09 it was extremely hot when we hit the detour, but this time we did it with relative ease. Years ago, a horrible flood occurred on the Potomac, leaving the towpath in a state of ruin in the Big Slackwater area. However, I’m happy to say that it is presently being repaired and should be ready for use in the Summer of 2012.

The Dreaded Detour!

A View from the Detour

Shepherdstown Stop





















When we arrived in Shepherdstown, we couldn’t help but realize one thing in particular–after approximately 110 miles of biking, we were within 10 miles of our homes in Martinsburg, WV. It’s kind of funny how travel works, but there was plenty to see and we pressed on. The Antietam Aqueduct is a nice place to have a snack and a drink of water, and after fueling up, we had a solid hour of biking to go before reaching our destination at the end of the second day.

Antietam Aqueduct

Maryland Heights

Before getting an up close view of Harpers Ferry, it’s hard to miss a large rock formation on the left. The top of this precipice is known as Maryland Heights, and many artists have taken the trail to the top in order to get the perfect vantage point for painting the beautiful scenery below. Harpers Ferry itself sits at the junction of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, and there couldn’t be a better place to end the day and reflect upon two days of biking on the C&O Canal.

Polly Loves Harpers Ferry!

Ahhh, the end of day #2! (Harpers Ferry)

Check out Day #1 on the C&O Canal!
Read about our adventures on Day #3!

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11 Responses to “Day 2 on the C&O Canal (Polly #3)”

  1. wow, it really is a gorgeous area y’all were riding in. Some parts look like Ireland. The plush greenness of the grass makes me want to roll in it 🙂

  2. Thanks for the comment Missy. I can’t really explain it, but the views at both Dam 4 and Dam 5 look like something I’ve seen in old WWII movies–kind of a European look. The are plenty of canals in the “old world,” and the C&O’s engineers were probably influenced by them. As for all of the greenery, it’s pretty lush in this part of the country.

  3. Have you ever taken the trail to the top of Maryland Heights? The view is awesome!

  4. Kevin T.,
    Yes, I hopped all the way to the top! It’s something that everyone in the area should do, but lots of people don’t know about it. I hope they read this and try it for themselves. The view is worth it!
    Polly #3

    p.s. thanks for writing to me!

  5. I really like the Dam 5 picture. It would make a great postcard.

  6. Jazzy Jeff~
    Don’t think that the picture of me in front of Maryland Heights would make an even better postcard!!!
    Polly #3

  7. Can you tell me more about the detour and why most people dislike it so much?

  8. Skip W.,

    There are numerous reasons for not liking the detour: it’s hot; there’s a lot of traffic; and the terrain is pretty hilly. It’s not a terrible place to ride a bike, but it’s a complete shock after doing over 90 miles on a gravel path. I’ve also read somewhere that 30+ bikers and hikers have been injured on the detour over the years. That’s not an extremely high number, and–perhaps–the difficulties of riding on the detour have been blown out of proportion, but there are still a lot of us who will be very happy to see the completion of the Big Slackwater project!

  9. Did you get to ride a bus?

  10. Have you ever gone to Harpers Ferry?

  11. Hi Scottie~
    Yes, I’ve been to Harpers Ferry many times and I love it! I’ve ridden my bike there and I have driven there in a car, but I’ve never taken the bus there. I love looking at the old buildings, and of course, I like climbing to the top of the hill to see a great view of the river! Have you ever been to Harpers Ferry?

    Thanks for writing,
    Polly #3