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.

Day One:

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.

Day Two:

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.

HOW ABOUT YOU? Inspire others by submitting your bike overnight adventure!

2 responses so far ↓

Kimberly Giarratano - Sep 16, 2015 at 7:17 PM

Nice blog post! The photos totally make the story.

Dan Wills - Sep 16, 2015 at 8:34 PM

I did the whole thing from Pittsburg to Wash. DC a couple years ago on a trike. I found the packed dirt trail slowed my progress approximately 20% from normal paved roads or trails. I loved the one bypass that was paved. The camping was incredible and made the trip more fun. Once past Cumberland, you are right, the trail is not for trikes. it is single track and much of the time I had to have a wheel in the weeds. There were plenty of campgrounds and following the river was great. But now that I have done it, I would not do the C&O again on a trike.
Another odd thing I found was that the ascent just kept going the whole time from Pittsburg to the Divide. When I ride hills, I get breaks between the climbs. This was new to me to never really have a down hill moment until just before Cumberland.

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