Experiencing the Great Allegheny Passageway

In the month of June, Outdoor Recreation (ODR) offered a three-day bike tour along the Great Allegheny Passageway (GAP) and seven clients joined for the ride. The Great Allegheny passageway is 150 miles long through mountains of Pennsylvania and connects Pittsburgh to Washington D.C. This trail is the longest unpaved hiker and biker rail trail in the Allegheny region of the Appalachian Mountains. It is considered, by many, to be a world-class biking experience.

 

The GAP is free from traffic and motorized vehicles because it is built mainly on abandoned rail beds. The trail is made from packed and crushed limestone, which creates a smooth trail to bike and walk on. Hiking and biking are the two most popular activities for the trail, but horseback riding is also permitted in certain areas. The trail connects with the 184.5 mile C&O Canal Towpath at Cumberland, MD to create a 334.5 mile route between Pittsburgh and Washington D.C.

Day 1 of the Outdoor Recreations trip began in Pittsburgh at Point State Park, which is where the three rivers in Pittsburgh all come together at one point: the Ohio River, Allegheny River and Monongahela River. On the first day’s ride they covered 50 miles. They rode across numerous rivers, and they also stopped in several trail towns to experience trail culture and enjoy great cuisine. There are small towns about every ten miles or so along the trail that provide essential amenities. At the end of the day they spent the night in a beautiful campground outside of West Newton.

Day 2 of their trip they covered 67 miles from West Newton to Rockwood. They passed numerous waterfalls, rode over a towering bridge and crossed the mighty Youghiogheny River. Many gorgeous waterfalls, such as Ohiopyle Falls, Cucumber Falls, Cascades and Sugar Run Falls, can be seen at Ohiopyle State Park, which the GAP follows right along. Another stunning landmark long the trail is Fallingwater. Fallingwater is a house that isn’t built on solid ground, but stretches over a 30 foot waterfall. Once they arrived in Rockwood that night, they found a campground to stay at for the night so they could rest up for the last day of their 150 mile journey.

Day 3 concluded with a ride from Rockwood to Cumberland, Maryland. The first major landmark they crossed was the Eastern Continental Divide. This is the highest point on the Great Allegheny Passage, rising to a staggering 2,392 feet. The Divide defines two watersheds of the Atlantic Ocean: the Gulf of Mexico watershed and the Atlantic Seaboard watershed.

As they come near the end of the journey, they travelled through the Big Savage Tunnel. This tunnel is an abandoned railway tunnel and stretches 3,294 feet long. After the tunnel, they enjoyed the next 18 miles of downhill terrain to their ending destination in Cumberland, Maryland.

Outdoor Recreation is always busy with wonderful trips for the whole family to enjoy! For more information on upcoming trips contact Outdoor Recreation at 717.245.4616. You can also stop by their building to see what they have to rent, BLDG 860.

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