The Canal Towns Partnership (CTP), a group of nine communities surrounding the C&O Canal National Historical Park, are offering a free shuttle to transport C&O Canal cyclists and hikers around the towpath washout between mile marker 48 at Point of Rocks and mile marker 55 at Brunswick.
Recognizing that the weeks between Memorial Day and Independence Day are the most popular for cyclists making the 184.5 mile trek from Washington, D.C. to Cumberland, MD, — many of whom continue on to Pittsburgh, PA, via the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) — the group raised the money needed to offer a free shuttle around the washout, so cyclists could complete their rides.
The washout was caused by flash flooding during a May 2018 storm. The rising waters of Little Catoctin Creek washed out historic Culvert 82, taking a portion of the towpath with it. The C&O Canal National Historical Park attempted an installation of a temporary bridge across the area, but due to frequent rain and high water levers, the bridge materials were washed away, and the efforts ceased. The Park is planning to construct a temporary low-water crossing before a permanent bridge can be installed later in 2019. Until the crossing is in place, the summer’s bikers are left without a way to cross the breach, short of wading across when water levels permit. High-speed traffic and a railroad crossing make bypassing the breach via the surrounding roadways dangerous.
The Canal Towns Partnership consists of nine communities along the C&O Canal who depend on the Park’s nearly 5 million visitors for economic health, especially during the summer months. Together, they raised enough funds to pay for a once-daily shuttle to transport riders and their gear around the washout. The shuttle details appear below.
“Our communities, particularly the many business owners in the Canal Towns, had two concerns: the safety of the Park’s visitors and that the washout could impact bottom lines this summer,” explained Abbie Ricketts, the vice chair of the CTP and a board member of Brunswick Main Street. “We saw the opportunity to solve a problem for the cyclists and for the communities by raising the funds necessary to provide a shuttle for thru-riders. We are thrilled that we are able to offer this service.”
The shuttle, which is being run by River and Trail Outfitters in Knoxville, MD, will follow this schedule:
WHEN: May 25-July 7, 2019
10 a.m. daily from Brunswick (mile 55)
11 a.m. daily from Point of Rocks (mile 48)
WHERE: Brunswick pick up next to MARC train station, S. Maple Ave.
Point of Rocks pick up at Community Commons Park, Monroe St.
HOW IT WORKS: The shuttle is first come, first served and is only free at scheduled times. Riders should plan to arrive 15 minutes early as shuttles leave promptly at times posted. Each shuttle will transport up to the first 10 riders per trip. Additional paid shuttles may be scheduled through River and Trail Outfitters, 301-834-9950.
The sponsors of the free shuttle are the Canal Towns Partnership, C&O Canal Trust, Visit Frederick, Visit Hagerstown, City of Brunswick, Brunswick Main Street, Greater Brunswick Area Chamber of Commerce, Town of Hancock, Brunswick Area Recreation Council, and Harpers Ferry Merchants Association.
Information is available online at www.canaltrust.org/shuttle.