C&O Canal Thru-Hike – 1-Location

Parameters that will drive the preparation, training, gear, food, water, etc:

  • Distance: 184.5 miles. Cumberland, MD, to Washington, DC.
  • Duration: 4-6 days
  • Terrain: Nearly flat, very little terrain variety. Portions may be rocky, muddy, overgrown – but the trail is essentially flat. Long stretches with shade, long stretches no shade.
  • Proximity to water: High during entire duration.
  • Season/Weather: September, second half.
  • Party size: 1

Notes and Thoughts

Duration: I will have to refine this estimate based on training and level of intensity. At 4 days, that’s 46 m/d. At 6 days, that’s 30 m/d. Given the terrain, 30 m/d is doable – 46 may be insanely optimistic – or just plain insane. I live 0.5 miles from the C&O – I’ll be able to do some good training hikes to figure this out… TRAINING: Do several long hikes to determine rate of travel.

Proximity to water: There will be ready access to water, though potability will be questionable. PACK: 500ml water bottle, filter, purification tabs.

Season/Weather: Anticipate temperatures from 90+ during the day. While unlikely, temperatures could get to near freezing at night – more likely, 50-60s. Rain is possible. Snow highly unlikely. Can check weather as get closer. Mosquito mitigation a must. PACK: Layers, rain gear, bug mitigation.

Party size: I intend to solo the hike. In mid-September, I anticipate reasonable trail use – so I’m not overly concerned about not finding aid if an emergency arises. Additionally, as the C&O is, essentially, a single trail without deviations and branches – it should be close to impossible to get lost. PACK: cell, battery, Ham radio programmed with frequencies of repeaters along the route.