Off the beaten path and wonderfully peaceful. It's a terrific blend of nature and comfort.
Kids were exhausted from our hiking adventures in Sleepy Creek. We ended each day relaxing by the fire and with a glass of wine. Thanks!
Park across the Potomac River in Hancock and hop on your bike for an incredibly beautiful ride on the Western Maryland Rail Trail or C&O Canal Trail.
There are some great details on the TrialLink by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy website.The C&O Canal Association recommends these two locations as access points: the Hancock Visitors Center (directions) and this area closer to the center of Hancock. The C&O Trail is built on the path that runs parallel to the canal and can be a little rough on the backside over long periods of riding. Younger riders and those looking for a slightly more comfortable ride will enjoy the Western Maryland Rail Trail's smooth asphalt surface. This fact also attracts inline skating fans, casual hikers, and those in need of wheelchair accessible adventures.
Riding to the West will provide a picturesque experience. Here's a excerpt from TrailLink's website...
"The western portion of the Western Maryland Rail Trail is blessed with magnificent views of the Potomac River. Large rock outcroppings will catch your attention, as will the ruins of the Round Top Cement Mill, which was built in the 1830s and was Hancock's largest employer during the Civil War."
Riding to the East will warrant a stop at the Blue Goose Bakery and Fruit Market but if you venture further you will find historical markers for Little Pool and Park Head cemeteries.
After you've worn yourself out, a stop at Buddylou's Eats Drinks & Antiques in Hancock for cool drinks and good food will get you going again.
Here is a great resource to help you plan your ride.
Videos From the Trail
What to Bring
Sunscreen - The trails each have a good amount of shade but while riding a cool breeze can trick you into thinking you are safe from the sun. Wear a healthy amount of sunscreen to protect your skin.
Water - Regardless of how far you intend to ride, water is always a good idea. Dehydration can sneak up on you and can ruin a great day's adventure. There are drinkable water pumps along the C&O for those with less picky palettes.
Helmet - Safety first.
Patch Kit & Pump - The most common equipment failure on a bicycle is the tires. A flat can result in something you giggle about over drinks later or a long walk back to your car. REI has a great tutorial on how to change a flat tire. Friendly riders may come to the rescue but that can't always be counted on.
Bicycle Lock - You may want to stop along the way to see the sights or visit a shop. Locking your bikes will help to keep your ride back to civilization from becoming a walk back to civilization.
Bug Spray - The trails are in the woods. Gnats and mosquitoes can quickly become an annoyance.
Sunglasses - This is definitely optional. The shade of the trail may be enough to shield you from a hot sun.
Waterproof Pouch or a Ziplock - In general, this is a great item to keep on your bike in case of rain. Throw cell phones wallets and keys in there to stay (fairly) dry and let the rest air dry later.
Camera - It's beautiful country out there and you will likely see some form of wildlife not to mention the countless scenic photo ops. Wanna share a great shot? Feel free to submit your photo here.