First stop: Paw Paw Tunnel. This is about 30 miles into today’s ride. The tunnel is half a mile long and extremely dark. Turn on your headlight, your tail light (blinkie) and ride slowly or walk your bike. Singing is optional. Photo ops are best on the other side of the tunnel.
Next big thing to look for: at about 50-51 miles into the ride (Milepost 134), there is a way to get off the towpath (to the left) and up onto a PAVED trail that runs parallel to the canal (Western Maryland Rail Trail). The ten miles on the pavement will feel SWEET after 50 miles on the canal. It’s important to look for the entrance, because signage has been spotty over the years.
Hancock is about 10 miles later. That’s where we have lunch. If you’re on the paved trail, when you get into town, you can turn right to head towards the canal (and there’s a bike shop down there; Gatorade!). OR turn left and then right onto the main street to go to Weavers, where we eat lunch.
Take the paved trail out of town. It goes approximately another 10 miles. Note: you must turn off of the paved trail at one of the road crossings BEFORE it ends to reach the canal again. There should be signs. Towpath located 0.7 miles downstream of this point at Route 56. Go down the tow path another 10 miles until you get to Dam #5, which has a nice grassy spot overlooking the Potomac River. We will have a rest stop here.
Then it’s canal for another 5 or 6 miles until you get to Williamsport/Cushwa basin. Take Potomac Street from there up a steep hill and look for the entrance to Byron Memorial Park – on the right. There is a stone wall entrance to the park. This is our last rest stop for the day. There we ride roads to the hotel but with a police escort - not to worry as it will be very safe! Stay on 11 for about three miles, then turn LEFT onto Massey Boulevard. Continue on Massey and pass a mall (on your left). At the intersection of Massey and Halfway Blvd, go STRAIGHT ACROSS (this is a nasty one, traffic-wise). Then make a LEFT on Railway Lane, and then another LEFT onto Underpass Way, and you’ll see the entrance to the Ramada Inn Hotel. The Holiday Inn is just a short distance from there.