The Great Allegheny Passage – Biking from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C.
Last week, I posted about how we prepped for our bike ride from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C.. The ride itself is really split into two sections, the Great Allegheny Passage (the GAP) and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (the C&O). The Great Allegheny Passage runs from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, while the C&O goes from Cumberland to D.C. I thought that made for a logical way to split up my posts so they don’t get too long. Since we started in Pittsburgh, I’m sharing all about our trip on the GAP today.
Like I said, the Great Allegheny Passage goes from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, and it covers 150 miles. The maximum grade is 1.5%, so it’s fairly flat – which makes sense since it runs along a river. The trail gains elevation from Pittsburgh towards D.C. until the Great Continental Divide, when it loses elevation pretty drastically over 25 miles. We actually decided to ride from Pittsburgh to D.C. so we wouldn’t have the climb that 25 mile hill. So…let me tell you about the trip!
Day 1: Pittsburgh to West Newton
Elevation: 560 feet gained
Since we’ve ridden around the city so much, we decided we could start from the South Side boat launch instead of the Point. My mom and aunt dropped us off after going through a bunch of construction, naturally.
We had perfect weather, despite the sky looking a little dark at a couple points. We couldn’t believe how high the river was – we got about 2+ inches of rain the day before we started. There were some muddy spots along the trail, but it wasn’t bad overall.
We got to the Bright Morning B&B pretty early, so we were able to shower and grab a drink and snack at the Trailside restaurant. We were a little delayed getting our drinks because we, ahem, locked ourselves IN our room. The lock malfunctioned, so we could only lock the deadbolt when we were outside of the room. We only had to call to be let out twice. *embarrassing yet hilarious*
The B&B offered dinner, and we decided to eat a homemade meal there. Our choices were spaghetti and meatballs (hubs) and lasagna (me). I have to say…the lasagna was amazing. I would highly recommend eating dinner there! We couldn’t stay up long enough to enjoy the camp fire, and we turned in around 9.
Day 2: West Newton to Confluence
Elevation: 1100 feet gained
We started the day with a delicious breakfast before we set off. West Newton is one of our favorite places to spend the night along the gap because we love staying at Bright Morning. Rob and Mary Lou are amazing hosts and really make you feel at home. It feels like they’re hosting a party, and you’re one of their friends that they invited. We’re hoping to make it back there at least one more time this year!
The trails were absolutely beautiful. This section is very scenic, and we had a couple photo stops. We stopped for lunch in Connellsville at Ruvo’s, a fairly new Italian restaurant. I had the ravioli, which were amazing. (Are you sensing a theme with me eating cheesy carbs? It was alllll I wanted!) We chatted with the owner for a little bit before we continued on to Ohiopyle.
I think Ohiopyle is one of the most beautiful sections of the trail, especially heading towards Confluence. We took a little break for some ice cream before pounding out the last 11 miles to Confluence.
Once we got there, we cleaned up and grabbed dinner. Most of the B&Bs we stay in along the trail don’t have TVs, so we played some cards before heading to bed.
Day 3: Confluence to Cumberland
Elevation: 1223 feet gained (ish. We had some GPS issues)
We had a slow start to the morning, but finally got on our way. I was having some tummy troubles, which made it an even rougher start, but I felt better after a snack in Rockwood.
We continued to Meyersdale and stopped for lunch. We were both ready for a break at that point, especially since this was our most intense day of climbing. I knew we only had to make it to the Great Continental Divide, and it would literally be all downhill from there.
This section of the Great Allegheny Passage – from Confluence to Meyersdale – always seems to be mentally challenging for me. It was difficult both times I rode it before this trip. I continued to struggle until we hit the divide, and I was SO HAPPY to have a 25-mile descent that I cried. (I’m crying in this picture, but you can’t see it around the sunglasses.)
We stopped for some pictures at the Mason Dixon Line, including standing in two places at once. The 13-year-old in me naturally thought about A Walk To Remember…please tell me you did, too.
I tend to crave pickles during/after long rides because of the salt. There was a table full of snacks set up outside of Frostburg. I thought it was for sale – a fundraiser of some sort. It was actually a snack stop for a supported group ride, but the woman was a saint and gave me a pickle. It really helped me out for the last part of our ride!
We finally rolled into Cumberland, and had to climb a big hill to get to our B&B, the Bruce House Inn. It was built in 1840 and had a ton of history. I would love to go back sometime and pay more attention to the history…we were getting pretty tired at this point!
Anyway, we walked down into town for dinner, snacks, and second dinner for hubs before heading back and going to bed.
That sums up our journey on the Great Allegheny Passage! Stay tuned for our adventures along the C&O…coming soon!