Two days on the Great Allegheny Passage with a recumbent trike.
With promising weather, some free time, and a recumbent trike, Martin made a last minute decision to ride part of the Great Allegheny Passage, a.k.a. the GAP, between Pittsburgh, PA and Cumberland, MD.
Bicycle Adventurer: Martin Garnick
When: August 2015
Accommodations: Ramada Inn, Cumberland MD and the Husky Haven Campground, Rockwood, PA.
Distance: Ninety miles over two days.
Adventure Bonus: Beautiful scenery, cool 3300 foot mountain tunnel, a one-hundred foot trestle bridge, and no cars.
The logistics of shuttling on this linear route make it difficult to ride the entire 150 mile trail on a short bike overnight, so I decided to do an out and back from Cumberland, MD. However, with Amtrak opening bicycle roll-on service in mid-September on its Capitol Limited train between Washington, DC and Chicago, the trip logistics of riding both the GAP and the C&O Canal Towpath might be greatly simplified on future trips.
I purchased the TrailBook from the Allegheny Trail Alliance, the only authorized guide. It gives you valuable information and history about the trail along with a separate vinyl map and costs $10 plus shipping.
After a pre-trip evening of exploring the quaint town of Cumberland and a night at the Ramada Inn, I awoke to a bountiful complimentary breakfast. The trailhead provides free overnight parking and I was on my way at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday.
The first twenty-four miles climb westward to the Eastern Continental Divide, then the trail gradually descends to Pittsburgh. Honestly, for this trike rider, it was a constant grind to the top and took me a little over four hours. Reaching the Eastern Continental Divide was a relief. Regardless, I enjoyed a few scenic overlooks and the 3300 foot Big Savage Tunnel was a treat along with its map on the wall showing mileage and elevation.
I planned to stay at the Husky Haven Campground in Rockwood, PA just forty-three miles from the start and descended a relatively easy twenty-mile pedal to the campground. This is hard-packed gravel, not always so packed, and having three tracks of a trike made things more challenging at times.
I arrived in Rockwood at 2:30 p.m. Being a Sunday, this tiny town in Pennsylvania had few services, so plan ahead.
My return trip to Cumberland began with an easier climb on yesterday's descent, but still, it's uphill for a challenging twenty miles and I looked forward to the long twenty-four mile descent back to Cumberland, east of the Eastern Continental Divide. Being on packed gravel slowed the descent, but with light pedaling, I managed fifteen m.p.h. to finish my ride back into Cumberland. Very nice.
After breaking down the trike in Cumberland and a quick chicken sandwich, I was off for the four hour trek home.
Notes about the GAP:
The trail has interesting sights including long tunnels, high trestles, winding rivers, wildlife, quaint towns, and history. It is well managed and maintained and is a great asset to the cycling community. You'll find many trailheads in the middle with parking that have a much smaller grade variant for easier out and back trips. And there are many B&B's and hostels if you choose not to camp.
For me I would have enjoyed it more had I started in Cumberland and finished the 150 mile trek in Pittsburgh, but that would have required an expensive shuttle and more planning. The C&O Canal and GAP were on my "Bucket List" but being a trike-only guy, the C&O is out and as far as the GAP, I can cross that off with just what little I've done.
Your favorite local bike shop: Bicycle Rack, Hightstown, New Jersey
Bike overnight tips and tricks: Bike headlight for trip through Big Savage Tunnel is a must.
Just a note: You can see my blog write-up of this trip with photos. It does not reflect a 100% positive attitude of this trip, as I am not a trails fan, but an interesting trip just the same. www.thejerseypedaler.com
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