From Meyersdale, Heading Both North and South
We rode on the Great Allegheny Passage, starting in Meyersdale, PA, and then travelling both north and south, in August 2012. This is a great trail, and it is in great shape. We crossed the Salisbury Viaduct, the Keystone Viaduct and the Bollman Truss Bridge. (We didn't quite have the energy to get to Big Savage Tunnel with all the riding we had done.) We look forward to returning!
By the way, Meyersdale is a fantastic place to start your ride on the Great Allegheny Passage. All of the landmarks listed above are in relatively close proximity, and the old train station in Meyersdale now has a small museum, gift shop, restrooms, etc.
My family and I decided to ride from Monroeville, PA to Cumberland, MD with a lunch stop in Frostburg, MD. When we started, we had 6 adults, a 13 year old, a 9 year old and a 6 year old with us. We started at Monroeville, PA and as we started, the younger kids did fine for the first few miles but then it was evident that we were going up a slight grade. We continued on, but it was a struggle to keep the youngest one rolling. She was a trooper until we got to Deals. It took us an hour and 15 minutes to go from Monroeville to Deals. It was painfully slow but she kept going. We picked up more of our family members in Deals, 3 more adults and 5 more kids. Then we had the short climb up to the Continental Divide. It was so much fun to finally make it up to the Divide and it was all downhill from there. We stopped in Frostburg (an hour later than anticipated) and watched the Western Maryland steam engine depart for its return trip to Cumberland. Had pizza and then 6 of us, 4 adults and the 2 older kids, continued on into Cumberland. The downhill ride was amazing and fun.
However, I must say the the surface was a lot more rough than I am used to riding on. The gravel isn't packed down and is really loose in some places. If you have a road bike, be careful getting out of the right tire groove because it can get tricky. Also, we saw a 24" rattlesnake slithering across the path. So if you see one, just stay away from it and keep riding. The overlooks from the bridges are amazing, so bring your camera. The tunnels are fun to go through but you really need a headlight. I had a headlight in my bag in my car, but none of my family told me that I should bring it. It would have been ugly if I would have met up with another rider coming northbound in any of the tunnels because I couldn't see anything even with the lights in one of the tunnels.
All in all, it was a great experience and I want to ride it from Pittsburgh to D.C. Maybe next year.
Ohiopyle to Maryland and back - August 16-18,2010
My hub. and I biked from Ohiopyle into Maryland and back over 3 days. We covered about 120 miles round trip. The trail was in wonderful shape and we saw few people. We signed in at the trail head ranger office and got the combo for the locked overnight lot to leave our minivan. As we left Ohiopyle, we saw 2 large doe just alongside the trail - we were able to get several pic. Our first night we biked to Meyersdale, which according to our odometers was about 46.52 miles. This was a bit farther than the maps seemed to indicate. During this part of our ride we saw a timber rattler crossing the trail on the Pinckney Shoofly and we almost ran over him! He streched almost across the entire width of the trail. My family lives about 1 1/2 hours from this area and told us that due to the dry weather they are seeing a lot more snakes coming further down the mountains.( I will try and post a pic. of Mr. Snake but since I don't have GPS - it may not get pub.) We stopped at Rockwood and ate pizza at the Milleshoppes. The pizza was very good and we also had GOBS! If you are not from Penna. ( I grew up here) then you may not know what these are . In Indiana where I now live they call them whoppee pies. There are different kinds - but if you are from Western PA. chances are you like yours with a rich butter cream filling not marshmallow goo. If you have never had this choc. cake sandwhich cookie try them here - they are pretty darn good! We crossed the Salisbury Viaduct on a beautiful sunny day. It is a marvel. The wind turbines up on the ridge above make it a perfect photo op. We stayed at the Levi Deal Mansion, in Meyersdale. We had a wonderful room! The bed was super comfortable and the service great. We had arranged for the innkeepers to make us dinner and it too was very good. The only point you should be aware of is that this is an active Railroad town. In other words in the middle of the night you will hear a very LOUD trail several times as you sleep. Earplugs were provided by our hosts and the bed and room was so comfortable that even though I woke up several times to hear the train I went right back to sleep and woke up refeshed. Breakfast was also delicious. Choc. Mocha Bundt cake, blueberry pancakes, eggs, fresh watermelon etc... I didn't want to leave! In fact next yr. we are going to try and arrange our bike trip so we can stay there twice and really have time to sit on the porch and relax. There are some very interesting old homes on the street with the "mansion" and we enjoyed walking around taking photos of them. Tuesday we left and biked over the Eastern Continental Divide and then through Big Savage Tunnel and on into Maryland. We had lights on our bikes and even though Big Savage is well lit some of the lights were out and I am glad we had the lights. Once you leave Big Savage you are only 1-2 miles from the Mason Dixon Line. We crossed into Maryland for a bit and then turned to bike back. We biked to Rockwood about 38 miles, and stayed at the Rockwood Trail House B and B. There is a very nice bike shop there that is run by the owner of the B and B. There is also a shed where there is a cellphone reception point. This is right on the trail head. The bike shop has coke products and snacks ( most places only carry Pepsi products - so if you are having a coke fit -...) The B and B is an old restored farm house. It is very clean. There are 5 bedrooms and some are larger than others. Our room was very small and had a very small bathroom inside it. We were lucky as we were the only boarders that evening so we had the entire house to ourselves. However, if you don't like really small spaces be sure to request the largest room. My hub. is 6'6" and built like a baseball player ( nonroiding) and he fit in the shower. But if you are a larger person you may not be comfortable in the smaller facilities. The host and hostess were super friendly and the breakfast was sausage and pancakes and scrambled eggs, and very good. We enjoyed sitting on the porch and playing cards in the evening. We will stay here again, it is very convenient, very clean and the owners are extremely nice. They don't live on site so if you are the only boarders you have a lot of privacy. Wed.( August 17th) we headed back to Ohiopyle. The ride is all downhill and pretty easy. You do see more people the closer you get to the trail head. It is a lovely trail and we hope to stretch our ride and add another 40 mile day in 2011!
Early Spring on the GAP
During the third week of April 2008 I rode the GAP with a group of cycling club acquaintances hailing from Richmond Virginia. One of our group managed to find a very nice man named Charles who operates a shuttle from the Washington DC area for riders of the GAP and the C&O Canal. We were dropped off at McKeesport with our bikes and camping gear to start our seven day trip on the GAP and then on the C&O Canal towpath. Our goal was to do the do 45 – 50 miles a day on our loaded bicycles, which we accomplished with no problem.
We managed to ride about 25 miles the first day after shuttling all day (Richmond to DC, DC to McKeesport) and camped at the Cedar Creek Park campground around milepost 110. This stretch takes you through old mining and/or steel communities and shows its industrialized past with a mix of rural scenery along the river.
Both the approach to and ride away from Ohiopyle are the most scenic portions of the GAP, with the Yock on your left and small waterfalls and wildflowers gracing the western side of the trail on your right. We rode from Ohiopyle to Myersdale in a steady, cold rain. The crushed limestone surface was like a big sponge and the travel was uphill and slow going. The Salisbury Viaduct over Highway 219 at almost 2000 feet long was quite impressive. Approaching Myersdale you can also see the windmills that dot the skyline. On a misty, cool day they were quite surreal. I began to think I was Don Quixote, or maybe it was just my blood sugar dropping. At Myersdale we had the honor of being the first guests of the season at the Myersdale Trail Side Hostel, which really is not “trailside” and is about a mile down a steep hill from the trail. But at $10 a night with hot showers we were in hog heaven! It doubles as a Community Center and we woke up in the morning to voters arriving for the Pennsylvania presidential primary election.
About 7 or 8 miles south of Myersdale is the Eastern Continental Divide, a celebratory milestone as it meant the end of the continuous uphill on the GAP. With a fully loaded bike, spongy crushed limestone, and a continuous uphill, we were happy to heading downhill. Not long after the Divide is the Big Savage Tunnel, one of the highlights of the GAP. The Borden and Brush Tunnels followed on the way down the hill in to Cumberland. There were several scenic overlooks worth stopping for on the way down.
After a lunch break in Cumberland it was on to the C&O! I would love to go back and redo the GAP from Cumberland up to the other side of Ohiopyle to Connelsville, in either direction. This is by far the most scenic portion. Kudos to the folks who were able to create the Great Allegheny Passage Rail Trail, one of the nicest and most scenic rail trails in the eastern US. They deserve our support!
Great trail end to end.
"Team Busted Ridge rides again. In mid-July ’07 three of us rode the GAP on the Yough River Trail from McKeesport to above Ohiopyle, drove over to Frostburg, MD, and biked the summit to Meyersdale, and had a great time. The trail was beautiful and the “scenery” was interesting as we biked past everything from a pipe plant in McKeesport to a very old cemetery to a windmill generating area near the summit to abandoned railroad bridges crossing the “Yock.” (For those of you who -- like us -- are not from the area, Youghiogheny is pronounced Yock’ yeny.) The summit area was expecially scenic. The people we met were all very welcoming and proud of their hometowns and the trail.
In McKeesport stay on the west side of the river. It’s far more scenic and easier to follow.
In West Newton be sure to stop at the new trail HQ in restored station. When we visited the HQ was scheduled to be moved the next week, but we poked our heads in the building. They’re doing a great job.
Of particular note is Connellsville and the Bikes Unlimited shop right on the trail at Crawford Avenue. The folks at the shop were friendly and helpful and had a great handle on the trail and its history, as well as the local eateries. We recommend a stop there.
Watch for wildlife. We saw plenty of non-threatening animals and found a copperhead at one of the scenic pull-offs between Connellsville and Ohiopyle.
Get off the bikes and walk around Ohiopyle. Be sure to make the short walk to the falls. Plenty of good food in town. Be aware Ohiopyle caters to river rafters, and bike equipment is in short supply. Get your bike needs in Connellsville.
The day we rode the summit the weather was stormy and fog was rolling out the Big Savage tunnel early in the morning. After a healthy thunderstorm and plenty of wind, the tunnel was clearer on the return trip. In Meyersdale you’ll find plenty of lunch stops. We heard the GI Dayroom was highly recommended, but couldn’t find it as we went down the steep Main St. hill in the rain. The Dayroom’s sign is obscured by trees. Watch for it on the right as you bike down the hill. We wound up eating in a little restaurant at the corner of Main St. and Bus. 219.
All you bicycling railfans out there will have a great time on this trail. The old B&O (now CSX) runs along the east bank of the river and it is well used. Although foliage obscured the view of the tracks below Ohiopyle, you still see (or hear) plenty of trains. CSX was running loaded 10,000 ton coal trains with two GE CW44s on point and three pushers, as well as mixed freights, autorack and container unit trains.
GAP’s website http://www.atatrail.org/index.cfm is very well organized and was helpful in planning our trip.
We drove nearly a thousand miles from the great southeast to ride the trail and it was worth it.
"The GAP is a great trail to ride on and is very scenic, probably overall the nicest trail I've been on. My two favorite rides are from Confluence to Connellsville, and from Garrett to the Big Savage Tunnel.
Confluence to Connellsville has the best natural scenic beauty of the whole trail. Here you ride through a beautiful shaded wooded environment, with great views of the river and lots of things to see in Ohiopyle.
Garrett to the Big Savage Tunnel, on the other hand, has the best man-made attractions with the biggest WOW factor. Starting in Garrett you have the windmills above the trail, then you get the wide sweeping panoramic view of the valley below when crossing over the Salisbury Viaduct. In Meyersdale you can see the restored trainstation/trail giftshop, and a whole ridgeline filled with more windmills. A few miles past Meyersdale you get to cross the Keystone Viaduct which gives you a nice view of the valley below with trains passing underneath you, and windmills on the ridgetop above you. A few more miles up the trail you get to the highest point on the whole trail, just past Deal at the McKenzie Hollow Road underpass...from this point it's downhill the whole way to Cumberland, and in the opposite direction the whole way to McKeesport. A little further up the trail you come to the Big Savage Tunnel, lots of fun to ride through, and now that they've refurbished it it has LIGHTS in it...YES, sodium vapor lights, so you don't need to bring a flashlight with you to ride through it !. Just on the other side of the tunnel you get a spectacular view overlooking the valley down below. Here's where you realize how just high up you are and how much difference there is in elevation between Deal (2,390') and Cumberland (625').
Once past the tunnel heading SouthEast the trail passes the yellow poles across the trail signifying the Mason-Dixon line and your entry into Maryland, where the GAP becomes the Allegheny Highlands Trail of Maryland. This Maryland section, scheduled to be completed from Woodcock Hollow to Cumberland in December of 2006, will link the GAP with the C&O Canal...which will mean being able to ride from Washington D.C. to McKeesport.
I'd just like to say I'm AMAZED at how much work was done to build this trail system! I've ridden several of the GAP trail sections back when they were still original railroad ballast, and all I can say is WOW! I rode the section from Meyersdale to the Big Savage Tunnel several years ago and I know that section alone took a LOT of work. Clearing the right-of-way and creating the trail surface, re-decking and fixing up the bridges (ESPECIALLY the Keystone Viaduct), creating an underpass for McKenzie Hollow Road, and restoring the Big Savage Tunnel. I remember having to climb up the roadside at McKenzie Hollow Road, then going down the other side into what was then a water-filled swampy ditch that's now the trail. I remember riding up to the North entrance to the Big Savage Tunnel and being shocked at how badly deteriorated the thing was. The whole face of the tunnel entrance had caved in, and the tunnel was filled with what looked like several feet of water. There was also a low ground fog rolling out of the tunnel that made the whole thing look like something out of a horror movie. To see it all fixed up in the condition it's in now with the lights in it is just unbelievable! "