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Biking on the C&O Towpath from Rileys Lock to Great Falls

Early spring is a good time for a relaxed bike ride along the C&O Canal towpath, and Rileys Lock is a great place to start and finish our ride with a fun picnic.

Our SHR group did this ride last year in a chilly rain shower that stopped as soon as we finished the ride.  As you can see in the photos, we were a little damp, but happy nonetheless to be out riding on the trail.

This section of the towpath going towards Great Falls is not crowded and has beautiful views of the Potomac River.  The trail is flat and suitable for riders of all levels, with a surface of packed dirt and gravel.  A hybrid or mountain bike with good tires is best for riding the trail.  Bikes with skinny tires are NOT recommended.

We'll meet up in the parking area at the end of the Seneca Park entrance road next to the C&O towpath.  The round trip to Great Falls is 18 miles, and takes approximately 2.5 hours with breaks.  You can view the most active area of the Potomac River falls from an observation platform at Great Falls Park.

There is plenty of free parking at Rileys Lock which adjoins Seneca Creek Park, and toilet facilities are available at Great Falls Park and at porta-potties along the way.  This is an up and back ride, so we will collect any stragglers on our return trip.

Helmets are required for all riders

Afterwards, we'll have a BYO picnic at Rileys Lock which has tables and nice views of the river.  So bring some refreshing food and drink to socialize outdoors with your Second Half Rally compatriots.

We don't tell people what to bring, but SHR is an imaginative group of foodies and beverage aficionados who always produce a tasty picnic that we all share and enjoy.

You can leave your picnic things in your car while we ride, so don't worry about carrying them.  Be sure to bring a folding chair!

The C&O Canal towpath is a public park that prohibits alcohol, so please be discreet with any of your beverages which might violate that policy.  We haven't had any problems yet.  Let's keep it that way!

Directions

From I-495, take the River Rd. exit towards Potomac and keep going for several miles past Potomac until you reach the T-intersection with Seneca Rd.  Turn left and keep going on River Rd. another few miles until you see a sign for "Seneca" just before a small road bridge.  Turn left there onto Rileys Lock Rd. and follow it to the parking area at the end.

As this is an outdoor event, we need good weather for it to be successful.  I'll post an update here by 10:00 am Saturday morning if we need to cancel or change our plan.  Please call Jake at[masked] with any questions.

I hope to see you there!

 

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  • Gregory D.

    Jake, Thanks for planning a fun day and arranging the beautiful weather. Next time I will remember to bring my "in shape" body.

    BTW, I found some headphones on the hill from the picnic area to the tow path, if anybody lost some.

    March 31, 2013

    • Gregory D.

      Not multi-color either. They are blue.

      April 16, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Thanks for checking Greg.

      April 17, 2013

  • martha

    some of us were waiting for awhile in the upper parking lot at the beginning and saw a whole lot of search and rescue operations starting off....just happened to catch this online this afternoon, note that the reporter said it happened at Seneca....http://www.wusa9.com/video/default.aspx?bctid=2268182208001

    April 1, 2013

    • Jake

      Thanks, Martha. I was wondering what caused all those police boats and emergency people at Riley's Lock.

      April 1, 2013

    • Joan

      Thanks for fowarding this info to us. I was wondering what the details were. Hope to see you again soon.

      April 1, 2013

  • Ron

    Thanks Jake for setting it up. And thanks to all the members for welcoming newcomers.
    Great group of people.

    March 31, 2013

  • Alison

    What a lovely day and event - thanks so much Jake. Happy Easter everyone!

    March 31, 2013

  • David M.

    Looking forward to even more fun activities, especially now that the season has turned.

    March 31, 2013

  • Gail T

    Good ride, good people, and good food! Once again, thank you, Jake!

    March 31, 2013

  • Ana

    Thanks Jake for an awesome day! Great ride!

    March 31, 2013

  • Bobbe

    What a perfect way to officially kick off Spring - SHR style! A beautiful ride, wonderful weather, amazing potluck & fun, fun people! THANK YOU once again JAKE!

    March 31, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Jake - thanks for organizing a great bike ride -- the weather was perfect, the ride was fun, and the most awesome people attended! Sorry I had to leave early and miss the picnic - look forward to the next one!

    March 31, 2013

  • martha

    a great day, I'm exhausted! The ride was great, the weather was great, the food was great and the people were the greatest! Thanks Jake!!

    March 30, 2013

  • Rachael R.

    This was the third year that I have done this great event and it sure beats the rain and cold we had last year. THe potluck at the end of the ride was fantastic as usual. THanks Jake for this annual tradition.

    March 30, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Wonderful ride! Jake, thank you for planning this and using your divine powers as Reverend to make the weather cooperate. It was so nice to meet everyone. Melissa, can you share the recipe for your amazing Kahlua cake?

    March 30, 2013

  • Gloria

    What a splendid day! Jenni, the ribs were amazing, thank you so much! My dog is enjoying a bone right now :-) Thanks Melissa for the awesome Kahlua cake (worth EVERY calorie)! THANK YOU JAKE for organizing this very cool, beautiful ride. I had a great time!!

    March 30, 2013

  • Cindy

    What a fun day riding along the river. Thanks Jake for getting us all together. Perfect weather, great group, thank you!

    March 30, 2013

  • Jake

    Excellent warmer spring weather for a nice ride. The Potomac looked beautiful and the trail was dry. The picnic back at Riley's Lock was AWESOME with the afternoon sun glinting off the river and mild temps. Thanks to everyone for bringing such excellent eats & beverages for our picnic. Special thanks to Jennifer for bringing us FOUR SLABS of delicious George's Ribs BBQ. What a great way to start the spring biking and picnic season.

    March 30, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Thanks Jake!.... Wonderful Day peddling on the trail with everyone! Looking forward to more fun times this summer with the group! :)

    March 30, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Great fun. A wonderful first ride of the year with some really nice folks.

    March 30, 2013

  • Dana

    Great fun!

    March 30, 2013

  • John C

    Beautiful day for a ride. Scenic trip. Lovely group of people.

    March 30, 2013

  • Christina L.

    Thanks Jake - it was a great ride!

    March 30, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    other plans for this beautiful day.

    March 30, 2013

  • Morgan

    Ill have to miss today's event.great day!

    March 30, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sorry can't make it. Have fun!

    March 30, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sorry, but I'm still fighting a cold.

    March 30, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    The RSVP is closed, but it looks like there are two spots left. Can I just show?

    March 30, 2013

    • Jake

      Yes, just show up.

      March 30, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Unexpected family coming in town.

    March 29, 2013

  • martha

    Thanks Jake, I'll just show up!

    March 29, 2013

    • Stephen C

      Martha the meetup crasher...

      March 29, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Id like to go if there's room?

    March 29, 2013

    • Jake

      You're in the photos from last year, so you can attend if you want. Just show up.

      March 29, 2013

  • Dottie S.

    Have tickets for a concert and will not get back in time. Have a great time! Sorry to miss this!

    March 29, 2013

  • HelenB

    Darn, I just realized that this ride is at 1:00 in the afternoon - I was thinking it was a morning ride. I'm double booked, but I will really try to make it.

    March 29, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I wasn't able to find a bike in time. Have fun.

    March 29, 2013

  • Julie S.

    Wish I could make it but don't think it realistic for me tomorrow as I'm staying overnight out of town. See you next time!

    March 29, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Family coming to town...

    March 28, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Serious allergy issues

    March 28, 2013

  • Karen

    Parent issues. Looking forward to Annapolis ride.

    March 27, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    So sorry...Have to cancel..but I'll be there for another ride!

    March 25, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    With the way the weather has been lately, I'm thinking of bringing my sled...dog sled! :)

    1 · March 25, 2013

  • Colleen

    Sorry to miss this ride but I will now be oot that day.

    March 25, 2013

  • Christina L.

    Looking to carpool from Springfield metro - anyone interested? Contact me offline.

    March 22, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    We'll be doing the Aquarium with the little guy this day. And I'm not even sure if my husband would get on a bike. LOL. Have a great time everyone!!!!

    March 8, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Yes!!!!!!!

    March 3, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Looking forward to a good spring time ride

    February 23, 2013

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