Great Allegheny Passage Bike Trail

Alex Post


This summer myself along with two others biked from Pittsburgh to DC, along the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) Trail, and the C&O Canal trail. The two trails combined are 334 miles, and we had 6 riding days, 3 on each trail. In this article I’ll review the first half of the trip along the GAP trail, which runs 150 miles from Pittsburgh to Cumberland MD.


The night before the ride start we stayed in a hotel in Pittsburgh, and enjoyed Sandwiches at Primanti’s for dinner. We primarily camped the rest of the trip, and we took the approach of one person driving the sag wagon each day. Of course that meant one person missed biking each day, but they it was nice to have the flexibility of a car. Many people alternatively carry everything with them, which certainly has its appeal as well.


Before the ride start in Pittsburgh it might be nice to take one of the historic inclines up to the ridge with a nice view overlooking the rivers and city. The ride itself starts at Point State Park, where the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela form the Ohio river.



Pittsburgh has an enormous number of bridges, many of them historic, including this hot metal bridge, which was initially used to transport molten metal across the river for further processing.


Getting outside the city limits we spotted some goats relaxing, after happily eating vegetation along the river.


The trail itself is predominantly a rail trail, largely with a stone dust surface, and for the most part was in excellent condition. It’s fairly wooded, and therefore shady, and we all noted that even on hot summer days of it was surprisingly comfortable. In fact we were rarely hot while riding. Lunches in the sun, or camping could be hot at times.


We made sure to stay hydrated with water, and of course, craft beer:) The Bloom Brewery draft wagon in Newton PA was a nice stop.


Cedar creek park was a nice stop for a swim, and would make an excellent camp area.


We camped out first night in Connelsville PA, and had breakfast at Connelsville Canteen, which is combined with a neat free museum to see while there. They have an incredible model train exhibit, and a WW2 exhibit, including a paratrooper bicycle, which would be folded and strapped to soldiers when jumping out of planes.


For lunch we stopped in the very scenic town of Ohiopyle, which would also make an excellent place to stay.


We enjoyed watching the Kayakers going over Ohiopyle fall. The River bends around so sharply there that kayakers can make a run, and walk briefly back on the GAP trail to the beginning to go again.


If you have time you can also take a detail for a few miles to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water house, or pictured here Kentuck Knob.


The second night we camped at Meyersdale PA, at festival park campground. They have a large covered stage area which came in handy to put our tents on since it rained that night.


On the third day we crossed the eastern continental divide.


There are some nice views from the divide into the valley.


Coming down the hill towards Frostburg there is a cave where bones of a saber tooth tiger was discovered, now on display at the Smithsonian. The town of Frostburg itself is also fun to see, although it does require biking up a half mile hill.

We arrived in Cumberland MD at the end of the GAP trail, and where it meets up with the C&O trail. I’ll cover that portion of the trip in a future article.


Phil Posner's picture

Thanks for your article. My brother and I took a tour company trip starting in Boston, PA (just south of Pittsburgh) this past Spring. We had a great time as well. The rail trail has become an 'economic engine' of Western, MD - it's great to see all the amenities that have grown up to serve cyclists taking that route.