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The Great Allegheny Passage Adventure (I)

June 28th, 2011 | Categories: People | 2 comments

An Adventure So Grand, It Requires Multiple Blog Posts

The Great Allegheny Passage is lined with trail towns, trail based businesses and art (like this rusting hulk). I felt like I was pedalling through an art gallery.

I’m a sucker for long trails.  Thin traces of dirt highways twisting through the woods offering a chance to escape; away from the cluttering noise and just gives me a chance to think while my body goes on auto-pilot.  I started feeding this addiction in college, even more so after and weened myself after a walk from Georgia to Maine.  A couple years ago, I learned of the a trail developing north of the C&O Canal going to Pittsburgh.   I had mountain biked sections of this trail when I was at Frostburg, but now, the trail was virtually complete and ripe for my riding.  I started planning this trip last winter and while others expressed interest, on the journey’s kickoff, only Mark Brown was ready to ride.

A classic “rail with trail” from Cumberland to Frogburst

After a rainy drive to Cumberland, Mark and I loaded our gear and started pedaling the 150 miles to Pittsburgh on the Great Allegheny Passage Trail.  This former rail bed of crushed stone reaches across the last range of the Appalachians to the Ohio River.  The morning rain gave way to a hazy afternoon as we climbed up out of the valley smoke in the sun of the Cash Valley.  Next to the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, we slowly pedaled to Frostburg for lunch.  The trail continued to climb through the Borden Tunnel, across the Mason Dixon, into the refrigerated Big Savage Tunnel and finally to the trail’s highest point at the Eastern Continental Divide.  It was all downhill from here…

Mark on the Salisbury Viaduct (He’s not afraid) with windmills in the distance


The trail then followed a series of creeks and rivers over even more bridges.  Flaughery Creek feeds the Casselman River feeds the Youghigheny River feeds the Monongahela River.  Wind farms lined the ridges through Meyersdale and over the Salisbury Viaduct.  The first night’s stop was in Rockwood, PA at the Husky Haven Campground; a great campground right on the trail with covered woodpiles for every site. (Showers, pool tables, water & charging station were across the river).

We were not alone on the ride. A bike economy boomed along the trail to meet the demand

The next morning, Mark scored a rack one of a zillion bike shops right on the trail to get the weight of his back. We traveled through a green tunnel of rhododendrons along the rapids of the Casselman to Confluence where more bike shops and coffee awaited.  From here, I felt the need to put the pedals down and reached the whitewater mecca of Ohiopyle State Park in no time.

In the middle of nowhere on the trail, interns were collecting the zip codes of trail users.  Ya gotta love data collection, especially on bicycle & pedestrian projects!  (ok, maybe its just me)

the adventure continues tomorrow….

  • Amy Bachman Catania

    Hi — may I have your permission to use your photo, “A classic “rail with trail” from Cumberland to Frogburst” for a website I’m developing for a rail with trail project? Thanks!

  • Bike Bmore




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