I have begun adventuring where I drive to a boat launch on a river near a bike trail, put the canoe on a trailer, and tow the canoe up the trail with the bike. At another boat launch I put the canoe in the river and the bike in the canoe, and paddle back down to my vehicle. I find that I make about 5 miles an hour pedalling up, and about 3 miles an hour paddling down. This limits a day trip to about 15 miles; 3 Hours up, and 8 hours down plus drive time, lunch, launch, etc.

I am currently working on the section of Monongahela and Youghiogheny Rivers between Connellsville(PA) and Pittsburgh PA? The trail and goes farther up stream but at Connellsville the river is closed to open canoes, 63 miles down stream the bike trail ends(Google map)

I used the bike trail feature of Google maps and followed the Ohio to the Mississippi all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. in the 3300 river miles between Connellsville and New Orleans, the section I am working on now seems to be the longest stretch.

A little thought on the subject suggest that old rail systems that parallel small to midsize rivers, that have been converted to bike trails will probably offer the longest stretches.

So where is the longest stretch? I would like to go someplace and spend a week or two biking up and canoeing down different stretches of river, where is the longest stretch of bike path that parallels a river I can canoe on?


  • I'm just curious how this works: so you attach your canoe to your bike via some rope and then tow it upstream? How do you avoid the canoe being pulled toward (and eventually stranding on) the river shore?
    – fgysin
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 14:01
  • I tow the canoe on the bike trail with a dolly, there are some pictures here bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/27234 I have made some modifications from lessons learned but that is the basic set up. Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 15:09
  • Ah, I was under the impression the canoe would be floating. Silly me. :D
    – fgysin
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 15:20
  • So are most of the people on the bike trail, there are some fun reactions. Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 15:47

3 Answers 3


You might consider .. The C&O canal on the Maryland side of the Potomac starts in harpers ferry ( accessible by rail on Amtrak) and goes to Georgetown DC just past the Key bridge. The end is literally a 1 hour walk back to union station. It can be a week if you want. It is one of the greatest isolated bike paths in the world. until you get to Georgetown, you never cross a single road. I have done it many times and this is one hat will amaze you. promise. You can also canoe almost all the way down the Potomac and get out just above the falls and then take the canal until it get calmer, unless you are good and the falls are awesome to run.

  • 1
    Good example, but Google lists it as a 60 mile journey 3 miles shorter then Connellsville(PA) to Pittsburgh PA Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 16:44
  • Well Google is wrong, the tow path is 184 miles long per NPS. I only suggested the harpers ferry point as that is something I have done on a semi regular basis by train, there are other access points starting at Cumberland Maryland. apparently there is a path from Pittsburg.
    – SkipBerne
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 20:08
  • I am actually working on the trail from the Pittsburgh side and moving towards DC. But unsure how much of the waterways are open I have the start of the answer for a question here my research so far indicates most of the canal is closed to water traffic. Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 23:03
  • in some places it is closed. in those cases you can bike or canoe in the river. the Potomac is really benign except for the great falls area. I was talking to this couple that went from Cumberland to DC on those standing inflatable surfboard things.
    – SkipBerne
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 14:01
  • @SkipBerne stand up paddle boards?
    – nhinkle
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 19:56

For reasonable values of "trail", "parallels", "navigable", and "river", the Washington and Idaho Centennial Trails run 59 miles from Higgens Point on Lake Coeur d'Alene to Sontag Park on the Spokane River; an 11-mile extension to the Long Lake area is planned for the near future for a total of 70 miles. (Google map)

Not all of the trail is dedicated bike trail; you'll find yourself sharing the road with cars on some stretches. The river is mostly seasonally navigable by canoe; you'll need to portage around five hydroelectric dams and/or waterfalls, and there are some mild rapids that might be a bit too exciting for a canoe made top-heavy by a bicycle.


Since you are in the Midwest: If you are looking for something a bit different: The Cuyahoga Valley National Park has a train (Scenic Railroad) that runs through the park. You can take your bike on the train (at a very cheap price). So, you can park on the very northern part of the park, take the train south and bike back on the bike trail that is the old tow path for the Canal. It is a beautiful place to ride a bike. Lot of information on the National Park's website with a link to the railroad.

The bike trail is eventually going to go from Lake Erie in Cleveland down to New Philadelphia. Maybe even farther south.

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