Pittsburgh to Cumberland

The Great Allegheny Passage {(GAP) 150} miles and (C&O 185 miles) are the best “Rails to Trails” bike ride in the United States. 


They connect with the Mount Vernon bike trail (20 miles) and Rock Creek State park Trail (14 miles) so it is easy to get around Washington on the bike trails.  We have done a majority of all 4 trails systems on bikes starting decades ago, so here are our stories with our most recent bike ride, October 2018 on the GAP. 

 The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) is a 150 mile bike and hike trail converted from an old train line bed.  As we biked south on the GAP trail,

 

it soared over valleys,

snaked around mountains, and skirted alongside three rivers: (The Casselman, Youghiogheny and Monongahela). 

 

We biked about 100+ miles of the GAP which crossed through the Cumberland Narrows, the Mason Dixon Line and eastern Continental Divide and through very old quaint mining and steel producing towns of years gone by.  We started our adventure by driving our car from Baltimore to Cumberland Maryland. After parking our car in the municipal lot, we grabbed a quick dinner in the Ramada and then boarded the train below

We had planned on taking the train to Pittsburgh but rain was called for on our last day with cold temperatures, so we decided to exit at Connellsville allowing us to avoid the “rain Day”.   The train was a pleasant ride with beer and food 

 

Connellsville became known at the “Coke Capital of the World” due to the amount and quality of coke produced in the city’s many beehive ovens. During this time, Connellsville had more millionaires per capita than any other city in the United States and was the major source of employment and revenue during the 19th and 20th century. Also, Connellsville has the distinction of having been served at one time by five railroads: the B&O, PA, Western Maryland, Pittsburgh and Lake Erie and Norfolk Western Railroads.  Upon arrival to Connellsville at about 10PM,  we then repacked our bikes with our panniers and rode to the “Fox Castle B&B.”

 

The Fox Castle B&B is a red-brick victorian residence dating from 1898. This informal bed-and-breakfast is in a residential area and features 2 turrets. It is close to: Falling Water, Kentuck Knob, the Fort Necessity National Battlefield as well as the train station.  We had very nice rooms with huge private bath and full breakfast in the morning.  The owners are awesome and all was great.  I would recommend the Fox Castle 

 

We tried to visit “Falling Water” and “Kentuck Knob”, both are Frank Lloyd Wright designed houses,  but all tickets were sold out. We had visited them before as part of our bike trips from years ago and I would recommend visiting both.

 

We started out the next day to ride to Rockport at about 10AM. We rode through Connellsville heading to the trail head and on our way we had hoped to go to church but it was closed. 

 

On our way to the trail head we rode around town looking at all the cool murals and professional graffiti. 

 

 

The trail was well marked and all was great as we headed south toward Rockport.  

Some of the sights along the way were: an owl sailed by in silent grace, deer roamed around

and I came upon a raccoon wandering the trail. We rode for about 15 miles towards Ohiopyle and we had great views and we almost had the trail to ourselves.  


We did pass a few people and only passed one or two groups riding

 

 

and all was great as we glided through the forests.  We passed many waterfalls 

We stopped at Ohiopyle and visited its museum and other sites,  it is a very cool town with raging rapids.  The town is bisected by the Youghiogheny and is one of the most popular whitewater destinations on the east coast. This is my photo from out west as we did not have time to river raft here but again I would recommend it 

 

On our next trip we will spend a few days here to go: river rafting, fly fishing, horseback riding, hiking and Zip lining as well as visiting the historic places nearby.  We visited the Ohiopyle State Visitor center below and they were promoting the river sports 

From there we rode to Confluence and passed many farms with animal husbandry 

Confluence  is a small town with a little B&B called River’s Edge B &B and I would love to stay here as well. From here we ride to Rockwood

 

We spent the night in the “Rockwood Trail House B&B.  It is a great B&B and we met a local couple,  it was perfect. 

 

After dropping off our gear we went to explore the town. It is a quaint town and has an opera house.  

 

We wanted to see a show but nothing was playing that night. So we continued to ride around town and  we found a cool place for dinner called the Rock – City Cafe.  

After dinner and way too many beers and wine we rode back in our B&B and fell into deep sleep 

The next day after a nice breakfast and meeting the owner we took off for Cumberland.  Along the way we saw deer and listened to the sounds of silence as the trails were almost empty, it was spiritual. We stopped at Meyersdale to visit the Historical Train Museum housed the “Historical Society” building

Train Mueseum above and below

We also rode through the Bollman Truss Bridge one of the last two surviving cast-iron truss bridges in North America

 

 

From here we crossed the Eastern Continental Divide at 2,392 feet which happens to be the highest point on the trail as one passes through Big Savage Tunnel with very cool murals and then

 

Murals on the tunnel walls below

we then rode through Big Savage tunnel that is 3,295 feet long taking one through the Big Savage Mountain

 

 

 

We finally reached and crossed the Mason Dixon Line.  

 

On the bike trip we went through many tunnels and with  at least 3 tunnels were more than 3 football fields and we crossed viaducts as long as 20 football fields 

From the Mason Dixon Line we rode to Frostburg and visited the town and saw the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad and it is a working steam railroad operating between Cumberland and Frostburg

There is also a Carriage Museum as well with interesting art work .    

 

 

Again we toured Frostburg and I would recommend staying here if one has the time at the historic “Gunter Hotel”

 

 

We dined at a great place called the “Clatter Coffee”.  

 

We eventually came into Cumberland and unfortunately did not visit the museum there called the Canal House and this is where the C&O meets the Western Maryland Railway.  After biking around town looking for mile “0” marker we found it and Arden collapsed

 

Then we biked to the municipal lot grabbed our car and drove home 

 

Recommendations to do this are

 

Take the train to Pittsburg arriving at midnight and stay at Marriott and the next day go south.  I would recommend doing about 35-45 miles per day on average so one can take the time to explore the towns and museums so those mileage get you to these towns

Day 1 ride from Pittsburg to West Newton  

Day 2 ride from West Newton to Ohiopyle. I would stay an extra day and do river rafting and fly fishing

Day 3 ride from Ohiopyle to Frostburg and or Cumberland and stay in the Ramada which is near the train station

If one were to do the entire GAP CO then from Cumberland I would

Day 4 ride from Cumberland to Hancock

Day 5 ride from Hancock to Sheppardstown staying at the Bavarian Inn

 

Take a extra day here and visit Antietam National battle field

Day 6 ride from Sheppardstown to Potomac Maryland

  • Visit Harpers Ferry on way to Washington
  • Take in the sites of Whites Ferry, Point of Rocks and the Great Falls and watch kayakers fly off the falls 

 Day 7 ride from Potomac Maryland to Washington and spend night at the Mandarin Oriental . it is a great place having stayed here 

 

Mandarin_Oriental_DC.jpeg

 

Next day ride to MT. Vernon on the mount Vernon Trail a few shots of our recent trip there for a party

 

come back and then the adventure is over