Our Top Seven Biking trails – 2nd Anniversary

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Continuing with our 2nd anniversary celebration posts, this time we share our top seven biking experiences during the period March 1, 2013 to Feb. 28, 2014.  Steve is always happy when he can unload our bikes so we can actually ride them, rather than just haul them around the country.  Our qualifications for these rides is the most points for: (1) the trail was nice to ride and well-maintained, and (2) the experience during the ride was memorable.  The list below continues the tradition I started with last year’s top seven.

1. Jekyll Island Bike Path – Golden Isles, Georgia – 20 miles of  diverse  scenery, from biking on the beach with panoramic ocean views, traversing lush maritime forest, and cruising through the moss-draped live oak trees of the historic district.  The best!

Click related post here.

2. Block Island – Rhode Island – There is plenty to see while experiencing Block Island, and biking it is the best way to do it.  Our 20-mile ride meandered over rolling hills, a beach bluff, and a wildlife refuge – all while offering sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean.  Then we stopped for a look at the lighthouse before returning to town to check out the old and new harbors so we could select a wonderful restaurant for lunch.  We took a ferry ride to get to the island and rode on the roads, sharing with automobile traffic and many other bike enthusiasts.

Click related post here.

Block Island, RI

Block Island National Wildlife Refuge

Block Island National Wildlife Refuge

3. Shark Valley – Everglades National Park, Florida – This is a 15-mile scenic loop in the Everglades where a multitude of alligators and birds will wow you!

Click related post here.

Shark Valley, Everglades

Shark Valley bike path – gators ahead!

4. Niagara River Trail – Niagara, New York – (12 miles).  Niagara (American, Bridal Veil and Horseshoe) Falls are your reward at the end of this journey – it really doesn’t get any better.  The secret to this ride is to start early and avoid the crowds that flock to the falls every day.  Our ride began at La Salle Waterfront Park in Niagara, then we headed past Goat Island until we reach the stunning falls.

Click related post here.

Niagara River Trail, Niagara Falls

Horsehoe Waterfalls, Niagara, Niagara River Trail

5. Western Maryland Trail – Hancock, Maryland – We clocked 20.13 miles on this ride, and fortunately we chose the western route which was more wooded and shaded.  This was one of our favorite quiet and serene rides.

Click related post here.

C&O Canal

C&O Canal Towpath

Western Maryland Rail Trail

Western Maryland Rail Trail – gorgeous!

6. PEI National Park – Prince Edward Island, Canada – 12 miles of breathtaking landscape along PEI’s north shore, and the striking red sandstone cliffs of Cavendish made this ride one of my favorites.  On this route we enjoyed a Red Fox walking along the path, a resting Bald Eagle and the cool breeze that made the ride very pleasant.  I love PEI!

Click related post here.

Bald Eagle, PEI

Can you spot the Bald Eagle?

Red Cliff Sandstone, PEI

7. Withlacoochee State Trail – Inverness, Florida – On the very last day of our date range (2/28/14), we biked 16 miles RT on this 46-mile rail-to-trail path.  What we liked on this relaxing tree-covered ride were the various shaded rest areas and a stop for fresh-squeezed orange juice at Ferris Groves – yum!

How about you?  Do you have a biking trail to share with us and our friends?

Next up:  Continuing on our celebration week – our favorite beaches.

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Back on the bikes – the beautiful Rail Trail in Hancock, MD

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WMRT Trail

For several months we’ve been hauling our bikes around, waiting for decent weather and a nice trail to hit.  Our next stop was going to be a catch-up, a do-nothing-for-a-couple-of-days stop, but instead it became a let’s-ride-the-bikes stop.  When we learned about the Western Maryland Rail Trail (WMRT), Steve immediately took down the bikes and we got ready for a great ride.  But before continuing on that story let me show you first what we saw on our way into Maryland.  We were cruising along I-68 and look what we saw far ahead in the mountain.  It is considered one of the best rock exposures in Maryland.

Sideling Hill

Sideling Hill

As we approached it, we noticed that this was no ordinary road cut over a mountain, but a huge excavation called Sideling HIll.  Almost 810 feet of strata are exposed in this cut, and as Betsy labored up the mountain I observed various exposed sedimentary rock types and structural features which might interest geologists.  We have seen a mountain cut similar to Sideling Hill in the Canadian Yukon territory, but it was not as interesting as these exposed layers.

Sideling Hill

Sideling Hill

Going back to the excitement of being able to ride our bikes – no sooner did I hop on when I noticed that something was very wrong with my bike, the cogs were not locking when I pedaled.  That could have been the end of our ride, but fortunately the C&O Bicycle store is located right at the trailhead!  We went in and found our savior for the day, Jonathan, who figured out the problem and replaced the part in 20 minutes!  I think we need to use our bikes more often, and take a little better care of them.

Western Maryland Rail and Trail

Western Maryland Rail Trail

The Western Maryland Rail Trail (WMRT) is a 20+ mile trail that follows the bends and curves of both the historic C&O Canal and the Potomac River.  The C&O (Chesapeake and Ohio) Canal is an old towpath used to transport freight from Georgetown to Cumberland, and it runs 184.5 miles along the Potomac River.

C&O Canal

Riding along the C&O Canal towpath

The town of Hancock is at the center of the WMRT trail, so one can start there to head east for 10 miles or west for 10 miles.  The folks at C&O Bicycle recommended that we ride the western half of the trail  from Hancock to Lock 56 taking the C&O towpath going out, and the parallel WMRT on the way back.  This route has excellent scenery and is away from road noise.  Although the towpath became a battleground  during the Civil War where the Potomac River and the canal were frequently crossed by troops from both sides, we did not see any signs or remnants between Milemarkers 124.1 and Milemarker 134.2.  We did see remains of Locks 53, 55 and 56 of the canal, and the ruins of the old Round Top Cement Works where  the remains of eight kilns once used to burn lime to ash existed.

From Lock 55 where Steve stood with a wide grin,

C&O Canal Lock 55

C&O Canal Lock 55

we continued another 2.5 miles to the western terminus of the WMRT at Pearre (PARE-ree) Station.  Nearby is the historic 1930’s stone Woodmont Lodge, which served as a private premier rod and gun club and is now operated by Fort Frederick State Park and Maryland’s Wildlife & Heritage Service.  This is where we turned around and picked up the WMRT to head back.

The ride back was easier on the asphalt paved path of the WRMT, but by this time my GPS showed 12.5 miles and we were getting tired and were only half way through.  The humidity was taking its toll on us.

Western Maryland Rail Trail

Western Maryland Rail Trail

We trudged on and along the way saw plaques describing the apple industry that thrived in the area a century ago and is now just a memory.  Blooming flowers and some critters were also on hand to greet us.

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To our surprise, we saw a sign after about 19 miles that pointed to the Happy Hills Campground about a mile off the path, our current home base!  I did not hesitate to quit and call it a day. My GPS showed 19.1 miles, my legs felt like wet noodles, and we were almost out of water.  Steve continued the last 5 miles to get the car while I headed off through the woods back home.

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My stats, 20.15 miles in 4.07 hrs and 1752 Cal burnt (although Steve says the cal count is incorrect)

The WMRT and C&O Canal can easily be one of our top bike rides this year, but we’d like to ride the eastern section as well – maybe next time!

At this stop we parked at Happy Hills Campground at Hancock, MD and although there were quite a few “perms”, this place was nice and quiet!   You can see Steve’s campground  review here.  Access to the WMRT a mile away from the park is very convenient for walking or riding.  And if you don’t have bikes, remember you can always rent one for the day from the good folks at C&O Bicycles!

Although this post covers events prior to our Gettysburg visit, I posted it afterward to stay in the spirit of July 4th.

Our upcoming stops – tell us about any “must do” tours, excursions,
restaurants, etc. you’ve enjoyed at these places, so we can check them out:

Niagra Falls, NY

Toronto, Canada

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