Valley Forge wih Casey

My sister casey flew into Philadelphia to spend the week with me.  Our first day was spent bicycling around Valley Forge National Historic Park.  

For dinner we went to downtown.

And saw the Liberty Bell.

And got a parking ticket!


The Big Downhill

After picking up the dogs from their sitter, we did a long downhill bike ride on the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) trail.  Easy day!  Started at trailhead in Deal, PA and finished in Cumberland, MD.

And then we needed a little car (breaks) repair on the way to Philadelphia.

3 Days on the C and O Canal Towpath

Biked for 3 days along the towpath.  Started in Cumberland, MD and ended in Harpers Ferry, WV.  About 40 miles per day, which, bicycle friends, on a mucky gravel path is NOT like 40 miles on a smooth asphalt trail.  Just sayin’!  Train took me back to my van at the end. (Doggies stayed with a petsitter for this part of the adventure.)

VERY MUDDY on day one!

Ten miles in on day one… still smiling.

Other sites along the towpath…

The path squeezed between the river and a mountain.

Kept my gear “bagged” to protect it from rain and mud.

After lunch on day two, I jumped over on to the paved Western Maryland Rail Trail for about 10 miles. It parallels the towpath for about 20 miles.

Lunch in Hancock. Hotel in Williamsport.

Soundtrack for day two!

Finally made it to Harpers Ferry, waiting out a short rain shower.

Full confession, the thunderstorm and the tight train schedule made me leap-frog about 20 miles of day three’s journey with an Uber ride!

Amtrak train that brought me back to Cumberland.

Great Falls

During my stay in Hapers Ferry, I took a day to drive down river to see the Great Falls of the Potomac.  After a scenic drive through the wine and horse country of northwest Virginia, I enjoyed several hours biking and walking around this National Park.  Here are the falls from the south side if the river.

It was amazing to see the current water level compared to the high water marks on this pole and pictures of flooding on this poster.

I then drove around and across the river to see these same falls from the Maryland side.  The north side viewing location is on an island in the river that was, unfortunately, closed due to recent rains.  I did, however, get my first bike ride on the C & O canal towpath, riding out-and-back about 4 miles.  

Before the railroads took over, this was the major means of transporting goods along the river.  The towpath sits between the man made canal and the river and runs 184 miles from Washington, DC to Cumberland, MD. 

West Virginia

Spent 4 nights at a campground in Harpers Ferry, WV.  

Setting up camp

Including the big tent!

There were some useful amenities at this campground including free pancakes each day (if you were wearing your yellow armband), a nice dishwashing station, and an off-leash dog play area!

A couple of days were spent in town and in some of the historic areas.  Also enjoyed some short hikes on the AT which comes right into town, crossing both the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers here.

These steps are part of the AT right in town.

Looking across the Potomac to Maryland. This pedestrian bridge is also part of the AT and links Harpers Ferry to the C & O towpath trail.

Historic downtown

A couple taking pictures along the AT, and, yes, he’s wearing a kilt.

Church along the AT in town.

My hiking buddies!

The white blaze indicating the AT route.

From Jefferson’s Rock

Full relief map of AT at the headquarters office.

More from Virginia 

A few more pics from the Natural Bridge and along the Rt 11 path.  

This flowing stream came right out of the mountain.

For those who take the sign seriously -hard hats!

In Lexington, VA there was a lovely herb garden right next to the parking garage.

I did a short walking tour of downtown and the campus of Washington and Lee.  On campus there was the “Lee Chapel” and in the basement was the crypt!

And just outside (this one’s for you, Casey), his horse.

After the Route 11 leg, I headed up into the Blue Ridge Mountains, camping one night along Skyline Drive.

The AT crisscrosses this drive multiple times.

And just as I was leaving this scenic drive, I hit 1000 miles on the trip so far.🙂

First Leg Completed 

This was our first picnic stop in Virginia at a very shady rest area.

With some pretty blooms…  

The pups enjoyed a long romp in a nice dog park in Roanoak, VA.  

And on to breakfast in lovely downtown Roanoak.  I had the coconut cream croissant!

This route was inspired by a recent article in Garden & Gun (see here) that suggests a route up Hwy 11 through the Shenandoah Valley.   (Thanks to Tammy for the link.) 

Of course, there was a detour right off!  But it was very short and I was back on route.   First stop, recommended by G&G was the Natural Bridge.  Wow!  215 feet high, 55 feet higher than Niagra Falls.  Walked right up on a baby copperhead right under the arch.  Yikes!

Easy 1 mile trail to Lace Falls, just up the creek from the arch.