Best way to Canaan Valley from DC? (long thread)
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RyanC
February 16, 2004
Member since 11/28/2003
160 posts
While this may indeed start a never ending debate as to the best way to CV, here it goes:
What do you think is the best way to CV from DOWNTOWN DC? Curious as to others opinions.

For the record, here is my opinion on the subject: I typically make the trip to CV from where I live in Baltimore County (just north of the Baltimore City line), taking the 'northern route', being 695 (Baltimore beltway) to 70W, to 68W, to 220S, to 50W, to 93 to 32. But, this is the dilemma.
As a new condo owner in the valley, I will be making the trip much more frequently from work (in downtown DC) on Friday afternoons (trying to leave early enough to beat the HOV-2 restrictions on 66W). These are the three different ways I've traveled.

1) Conneticut Ave. out of the city to 270N to Frederick, then pick up 70 and continue on the 'northern route'. The main drawback here is the heavy traffic heading out of the District, and traffic doesn't really move at or above posted speeds consistently until Hagerstown (which is a 70 mile long, below posted speed limit trip!). Leaving work at 2:30, it can take until after 4:00 just to get to Frederick.

2) 66W to 81S to 55, then 55/28 at Petersburg, to 33W to Harmon, then 32N. Even early in the afternoon, 66W moves below posted speeds all the way to Haymarket, and even with Corridor H being completed from Baker to Moorefield, 55W (especially after dark) seemed like just an endless trip.

3) Toll Rd to Leesburg, Rt. 7 to Winchester, then 50W to 93 to 32. This is currently my favorite route, and will continue to be until 90% of Corridor H is complete. unless of course, there is a great undiscovered route that I'm missing (I wish). There are many benefits to this route. The Toll Rd/Greenway is one of the few roads in the DC area that can be pleasent to travel on, even during Friday afternoon rush hour. And since I always make the trip alone, sometimes during the peak rush hour, this route allows me to get off of the HOV-2 restricted 66W very quickly. And I find that 50W is much more direct, and slightly less rural than 55, which is important since I have an older (but reliable) car and don't plan on getting a new one anytime soon. Of course, once Corridor H is complete from Wardensville all the way to Davis, that will be hands down the best way.

Since I've only made the trip from DC about 5 times, I'm looking for any advice that I can get to make the trip faster/easier.

Here is another related question for all of you that live closer to DC: Since the only time I ever drive to work (otherwise I commute by train) is when I'm going to CV from there, the only way I've ever driven is via 695-70-29, then take Conneticut Ave. in through the city, which isn't too bad before 7am. But, does anyone here that is more familiar with driving in DC during rush hour have any better ideas on ways to drive from Baltimore to downtown DC (Southwest/Mall area) during morning/evening rush hour? If you do, pleas share them with me.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

[This message has been edited by RyanC (edited 02-16-2004).]

johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
February 16, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Hey Ryan:

This seems to be an endless topic of debate on DCSki. At this point, the biggest nut to crack is getting out of the greater DC metropolitan area and it's sprawling suburbs, which extend to Frederick in MD and Leesburg in VA. Therefore, I will just commment on that aspect of the trip.

From downtown DC, where I live and work, I've found that Beach Drive is your best escape, especially if you hit it just before rush hour. It's a 25 mph road through a National Park that may eventually be closed if cyclists like myself ever get our way, but for now, it has the advantage of just 1 stop light (East-West Highway). That allows traffic to move well. It's also a very pretty drive (a little WV in downtown DC). Beach drops you off at Jones Mill and CT, about .5 miles from the CT/Beltway interchange. From there, I take the northern route to WV. There are occasionally backups as you lose lanes before Frederick, but after Frederick, it's smooth sailing to 220 South.

My second choice is the 66/Toll Road/Greenway/81/55 route. However, not enough of 55 is complete to make the time delays on Constitution and 66 worth it. A cab driver recently told me to cut over to the GW parkway and access the Toll Road from the Beltway if the signs indicate traffic on 66 outbound. You have to exit 66 just after the Roosevelt Bridge in Rosslyn, and go around the rotary to get on the GW, but this could be a good escape route in bad traffic on 66.

Maybe we could carpool sometime.

[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 02-16-2004).]

Norsk
February 16, 2004
Member since 05/13/2003
315 posts
Hi there, another downtown-DC-to-CV driver checking in. From the SW/Mall area, if you are leaving DC early enough to beat the HOV restrictions, then you should also be early enough to beat outbound traffic on Constitution. In that case, another variant is Constitution to Virginia Ave to the Whitehurst Fwy to Canal Road to the Beltway. At that point you can angle up to 270 toward Frederick or, cross the Amer Legion bridge on the Beltway to the Toll Road. While there are a few lights on that route, they are fairly well synched and lengthy greens. As is always the case with driving in DC, its all about options!

John, Q for you: If you were leaving downtown DC early in the AM -- ie no traffic on 66 -- would you still go north or would you go 55 and take advantage of the Corr H portions that are open? I think your answer implied that without traffic on Constitution or 66, you would go that route; just curious.

bawalker
February 16, 2004
Member since 12/1/2003
1,547 posts
Let me chime in here with some thoughts.

For those of you who prefer the Dulles toll road section to I-66 due to traffic you can still go that way and use CorridorH as well. Personally I have traveled this road many many times since my dentist is in Leesburg right off the VA7 route. I can leave my house outside of Wardensville and take this route and be in Leesburg within an hour of half driving conservatively. For those of you interested here is the optimized route:

- Take the Dulles Toll Road to VA 7 East.
- Take VA 7 east to Winchester/I-81.
- Take I-81 south a few miles towards the Kernstown/Rt 37 Exit.
- Get on 37 E/N for a few miles until you arrive at the Rt 50 E Exit. This is basically a partial beltway around Winchester. There is an alternate route of going through winchester but this will allow you to go around winchester with only 2 stoplights total.
- Take Rt 50 E. for about 15 minutes until you reach Gore, VA. You'll know your there once you cross the second set of RR tracks and pass a Bank. Keep watch because about 2 miles further on your left is Rt 259.
- Take Rt 259 for approx 19 miles to Wardensville which merges with Rt 55.
- From here take the usual route with CorridorH.

Mind you this is only for those who deal with rush hour problems where it's quicker to drive this than it is to go 25mph on 66. A few notes on taking this route. Rt 50 has had a significant more amount of state troopers and Fredrick Co Sheriff's out monitoring that road in the last few months. If you take it doing go over 55mph by more than 3-4 mph at the most. Once you are on Rt 259 things are very smooth sailing. Sheriffs rarely are if ever on this road and with the road being a wide and very straight 2 lane road you can make up some time here. BE CAREFUL once you enter the WV side at highview. A WV state trooper lives in the Yellow Spring area and monitors all traffic from the VA line to Wardensville on a very regular basis. You can go about 60mph max before getting busted. Of course next year this route may make alot of sense once the CH section from Wardensville to Moorefield is finished allowing about 15 min max to go from Wardensville to Moorefield.

This is not the only alternative route involving Rt 50. For those interested you can take Rt 50 past Capon Bridge and take a left on Rt 29 South. Taking this for about 20 miles south will drop you right into Baker, WV allowing people to get on corridor H. The second alternative route invovles taking 50 West past Romney and you will come to Rt 220 South on your left. Take it about 20 miles south to Moorefield and from there go the Petersburg/Seneca Rocks/Harmon route. This might be a bit longer than usual but involves less mountains and more straight/wide roads in case of bad weather.

For those who are waiting on Corridor H to be completed to Davis, I have posted a Jan/Feb `04 update on the status in the appropriately titled thread.

Brad

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johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
February 16, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Answer to Norsk:

If I were leaving downtown downtown early in the am, I'd take the VA route (66 or the Toll Road to 55W).

However, I often leave from the Kalorama/Adams Morgan area, and from there, Beach Drive and then the northern route through MD is the best way out.

Beach Drive is notorious for speed traps (both in DC and MD). Don't go above 30 on that road.

I will be experimenting more with both routes over the summer, and I will be sure to report back with any new discoveries.

(Anonymous)
February 17, 2004
Hello!!?? Anybody out there? We have a 2 posts going on now on this very subject!I have said time & again that the very fastest way (case closed)is to take the toll rd to winchester & then go around to the north & take 522 To 127 To 29 which links back with 50w.This is a straight route that is much faster,more scenic than staying on CURVY 50w.I have posted this route for a year now without 1 RESPONSE which tells me that nobody knows about this, so everybody just keeps posting there own lame routes! I traveled to canaan valley every other W-end from beltsville,MD(ne of DC) for 5 years trying every rout known to man & this was the tops.When i moved to damascus MD this changed of course & i took the northern route.The above mentioned route is the central route.A lot of people will try to steer you on the southern route which can get scenic close to the BIG mtns but is endlessly long.Corr H will eliminate the scenic southern part once it is completed.
dmh
February 18, 2004
Member since 12/11/2003
127 posts
I have not taken andy's route so I don't know whether or not it is the shortest or fastest. It is 176 miles to my house at Black Bear. Departing from north Arlington during the morning, it is about 3 hours to my house in Canaan Valley. During rush hour on 66, add 30 minutes, a gas stop can adds another 15 minutes. My route is 66-81-55 to Petersburg, then the northern route from their through Bismark. I know it is hard to compare a Arlington to a Beltsville departure but I would be suprised if there is a faster route.
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
February 18, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
In deference to Andy, I will try that route this summer and report back. However, as more 75 mph sections of 55 get built, I am skeptical that his route is shorter--maybe it was a few years ago but not presently.
JohnL
February 18, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Even if the roads remain exactly the same, what route is the fastest changes each year as development and traffic patterns change. Throw in factors such as what day/time of day/season/exactly where you are leaving from in the area/local weather, then the "fastest" route will vary a lot. Plus the "fastest" route is not necessarily the safest, least tiresome or least expensive (gas & tolls.)

If you leave around the rush hours, the main bottlenecks and additions to the trip time are in the DC metro area. (That's one reason I question how big an impact Corridor H will have for those of us who live very close to DC; as the drive times in WV lessen, the DC-area drive times will probably rise as the metro area grows.)

Until recently having lived in Kensington, MD, I am very skeptical about heading from Beltsville, into NOVA, past Tysons, out the Toll Road and out to Winchester. During Friday rush hour, Kensington to Reston could easily be an hour drive. The MD to Tysons drive is no longer a "reverse commute" during the PM. Plus there has been a huge amount of recent development out in Leesburg, Winchester, Ashburn, etc.

Johnfmh,
If I jump up and down and complain that the quickest route from DC to WV is via Stowe, VT, will you give that route a try next winter?

snowcone
February 18, 2004
Member since 09/27/2002
589 posts
May I recommend an alternate route to those traveling from the northern side of the river?

If you normally go thru/near Frederick and then on towards Cumberland, you might want to try the route we use coming from Germantown. In Frederick take 340 south to Winchester and then 81. This takes you away from 90% of the beltway traffic and is 4 lane all the way. From Winchester chose your poison; we prefer the 81 to 55 Corridor H track at the moment. We go to SS, but most of the routes to Canaan and Snowshoe are identical or very similar except for that last 1.5-2 hours. Our typical time for this route from Frederick to SS is 4 hours.

Believe me, we have tried about every route to date except Andy's and we'll give that a shot this summer when the weather improves.

(Anonymous)
February 18, 2004
Allright you got me again John L.How did you know i was jumping up & down?Time must be flying.If they have 75 mile sections between winchester & the 50-29 intersection then I'm living in the past! We took the 522,127,29 route back then because 50 was so slow with all the curves.If you stretched out 50 it would be the same dist as the above route only you could ave. 60 instead of 40 & the ride was so much more pleasant.Before i posted that route i asked if there had been improvements on 50.With no response i ASSumed nothing had changed.
JohnL
February 18, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Andy,

I dunno if any of the out-yonder roads near Winchester have changed, but I can tell you that getting to Winchester from NOVA has changed a lot, and not for the better. At least close-in to the Beltway.

gatkinso
February 18, 2004
Member since 01/25/2002
316 posts
Why quibble over 15 minutes here and 25 minutes there - it is about 4 hours(ish) from DC/Baltimore - there is no all freeway route.

There you have it.

Now, as soon as I get back from Hawaii, I am going to tear up TLine crappy lifts and all!

jimmy
February 18, 2004
Member since 03/5/2004
2,650 posts
I don't know the best way to get to CV from downtown DC but the best way i have found from Wheeling WV to CV is in my wife's Explorer.

Have a nice trip, Gat.

that's all
jimmy

RyanC
February 18, 2004
Member since 11/28/2003
160 posts
WOW! Plenty of different opinions here. I'm baffled as to which way to try on my next trip up (Friday March 5th) driving from DC, but...I found the below route posted by bawalker very interesting, I think I might give this, or a close variation of this a try, in addition to taking 42 N from Petersburg, because going the Seneca Rocks route was dreadfully long, especially considering that my condo is basically halfway between T-Line and Davis off of 32. (I'm assuming he meant West instead of East on the directions going FROM DC).

- Take the Dulles Toll Road to VA 7 East.
- Take VA 7 east to Winchester/I-81.
- Take I-81 south a few miles towards the Kernstown/Rt 37 Exit.
- Get on 37 E/N for a few miles until you arrive at the Rt 50 E Exit. This is basically a partial beltway around Winchester. There is an alternate route of going through winchester but this will allow you to go around winchester with only 2 stoplights total.
- Take Rt 50 E. for about 15 minutes until you reach Gore, VA. You'll know your there once you cross the second set of RR tracks and pass a Bank. Keep watch because about 2 miles further on your left is Rt 259.
- Take Rt 259 for approx 19 miles to Wardensville which merges with Rt 55.
- From here take the usual route with CorridorH.

johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
February 19, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
JohnL:

I echo your thoughts on crossing the Potomac for those who live in MD. Even for a DC person like myself, it's often easier to stay north of the river than face the horrible Northern VA mess getting out of the city. That's why I often take Beach Drive.

(Anonymous)
February 19, 2004
Hey ryan,what is better about that route vs just taking 66 all the way to 55?What would be the diff if you just stayed on 50 at that point?What if...what if??? Is there anyone out there with THE answer?Seems like that route heads you north ,then south,then north...Is that your final answer?
RyanC
February 20, 2004
Member since 11/28/2003
160 posts
Andy, your route is one I'm completely unfamiliar with, but will probably give it a try in the spring or summer. I'm surprised no one here has mentioned taking 50W all the way from WInchester to 93 (just past New Creek). Does anybody here take that route regularly?
(Anonymous)
February 20, 2004
I agree with RyanC 100%. We have a condo at T-Line and live in Loudon County, VA. We take 50 thru Middleburg, Winchester straight to 93. We generally leave around 5 on a Friday and other than a little bottlenecking on 50 before Middleburg it takes us just over 3 hours. And this includes stopping to let the dog do his thing (and me sometimes as well).
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