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  Yockatomac Trek 2006

Self-supported Camping Section


Saturday May 20 to Monday May 29


This will be a self-supported camping trip of about 40 miles per day. We’ll park in McKeesport, get a ride from McKeesport to Washington early Saturday morning May 20, pass through Meyersdale for the trail opening celebration on Saturday May 27, and end up in McKeesport on Monday May 29. We will camp most nights, leaving the trail only occasionally for food or special attractions.

1           Lodging

Along the C&O Canal Towpath we’ll use hiker-biker campsites, choosing each evening’s site as we go. These sites are not large, and they’re shared with other bikers and hikers. This limits the trip size to four tents.

We’ll stay at the Inn at Walnut Bottom ( in Cumberland, partly because it’s a nice place and we’ll be ready for a night in luxury and partly because the campsites near Cumberland are close to the road and a little noisy.

Between Cumberland and McKeesport we’ll set an itinerary, because the campsites are located much farther apart than the campsites on the towpath.

2           Transportation

We’ll meet in McKeesport at 7:30 Saturday morning May 20, leave our cars there, and get a ride to DC (leaving by 8:00). We have a reservation with Charles Cheek of Freedom Trail Riders  to drive us to Tidelock (milepost zero) on the C&O Towpath in Washington. 

There is a possibility of riding the Western Maryland Scenic RR from Cumberland to Frostburg; see options below.

3           Meals

We will prepare most breakfasts and dinners in camp, and we’ll usually prepare lunch along the trail from food we are carrying. Sometimes we may buy lunch near the trail.  In Cumberland we’ll go out for dinner, and in Confluence we’ll dine with the trip member who lives there. Decent grocery stores are available in Hancock (C&O mile 125), Cumberland (C&O mile 185), perhaps Confluence. Convenience stores are easily accessible at several other points.  Plan to restock every other day, not every day.

4           Costs (rough, conservative, estimates)


Total cost

Per person, approx

Transportation to Washington DC



B&B in Cumberland



Meals in restaurants (one dinner, a few lunches)



Food (not restaurant)



Jersey or polo shirt (optional)  


Admissions, miscellaneous







5            Special attractions

In addition to the trail itself, we’ll pass close to some possibilities for detours.  We can do these, or not, depending on how fast we’re going, the weather, and individual interests.  Possibilities include

Great Falls: 30 minute excursion to Great Falls overlook

Riley’s Lockhouse Tour: 20 minutes with a Girl Scout to visit the lockhouse at Seneca, furnished as a lockkeeper’s family would have lived in it. Open 1-4pm most Saturdays and Sundays

White’s Ferry: 10 minute excursion to watch the only remaining cable ferry across the Potomac. 30 minutes and ferry fare (about $1) gets you a ride back and forth on the ferry.

Brunswick RR Museum: (never been there) shared the building with the NPS visitor center in Brunswick.

Harper’s Ferry National Park: 1-2 hour excursion taking pedestrian bridge across Potomac to visit National Park and get ice cream. Requires hauling stuff up the stairs or leaving it on the Maryland side.

Antietam National Battlefield: 2-3 hour biking on alternate routing. It’s a few miles away from the trail and up a hill. We know a short loop and a long loop; either can be converted to an off-trail option (substituting the battlefield visit for a few miles of trail)

Cushwa Basin: 30-35 minute stop at NPS museum adjacent to the trail at Williamsport, if it’s open the day we get there (it’s closed Monday and Tuesday).

Ft Frederick State Park (MD).  1-2 hour excursion, I think.  I’ve never done this, but it’s probably best done by leaving the trail, going through the park, and rejoining the trail by picking up the Western Maryland Rail-Trail at its southern end.

Western Maryland Rail Trail: probably saves time. This is a 20+-mile paved trail parallel to the towpath. Hancock is in the middle. The pavement is often a welcome change of pace.

Paw Paw Trois. At the Paw Paw Tunnel there’s a trail over the top of the ridge. I think it’s now closed to biking, but before or after riding through the tunnel, you can walk over the hill and through the tunnel (yes, you go through the tunnel twice).

Cumberland Canal Place: The original turning basin is being developed as an attraction. There’s a National Park Service museum, a replica canal boat, and some other things.

Massage at Inn at Walnut Bottom:  Kirsten is a certified massage therapist and practices a form of Swedish massage called “afspaending”.  You probably should book this a few days ahead.

Western Maryland Scenic RR: Alternate transportation from Cumberland to Frostburg. Runs alongside the trail, avoids the trail detour.  However, it fixes the time for going from Cumberland to Frostburg to match the train; arrives Frostburg around 12:30-1:00.  Will take bikes, but need reservations for bikes in advance. Mark Imgrund says they’ll make a special stop at Woodcock Hollow if 10 people want to get off there; we don’t make that count, at least not without help.  The Inn at Walnut Bottom can get us tickets at a reduced rate, and we get the tickets from them rather than at the WMSRR ticket wicket.

Thrasher Carriage Museum: 60-90 minute stop at the Frostburg Depot, if you take the scenic RR.  Add 10-15 minutes if you ride up from the trail.

Trail opening in Meyersdale: 1-2 hour stop for the festivities at the trail opening, scheduled for 3:00 pm on Saturday May 27.



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You are visiting The Yockatomac Trek, copyright 2006 by Mary Shaw and Roy Weil. We encourage you to link to these pages or print copies for personal use. However, if you want to copy the material for any other use, you must ask us first. Other outdoor publications by the authors. Page updated 20-Apr-2007 by Roy Weil     Comments to maintainer.