Personally, I’ve experienced many dry miles between Williamsport, Md. and Harpers Ferry, WV while biking on the C&O Canal. In fact, there are nearly forty lonely, concessionless (my word, not in the dictionary) mile markers between the two towns. I can’t count the times that I’ve said, “Forget Shepherdstown! It’s clear across the river, and I’m not going all the way over there!”
However, the truth is that that there is an easy spiral between the bridge and C&O on the Maryland side. From the canal, it’s an easy push to the bridge, and heading back from Shepherdstown one needs only to coast back to the towpath. The bridge itself has a safe, relatively wide lane that gives travelers a quick route to the many shops and restaurants on the West Virginia side.
I’m not saying that I condone graffiti–quite the opposite in fact–but I have to grudgingly admit that some of the (ahem) artwork under the bridge is fairly amusing. Nevertheless, if one can turn a blind eye to this nonsense, there are plenty of places in Shepherdstown that may interest visitors to the C&O. For starters, using the bridge access, the Bavarian Inn (great German food and a place to stay) is roughly .3 miles from the towpath, and the Blue Moon Cafe (veggie dishes, entrees made with local meats, and a good beer selection) is approximately a mile from the trail.
I think I mentioned that it’s a long way from Williamsport, and that means there are plenty of opportunities for bike malfunctions along the way. With that said, the most important place across the river may be Shepherdstown Pedal & Paddle (115 W. German St., 304-876-3000), but hopefully none of you will need to pick up a tube or tire before getting a beer and a burger. Anyway, Shepherdstown is right across the bridge and easy to reach in both good and bad times for weary hikers and bikers on the C&O Canal. It’s well worth the visit.