For the past few months we've been profiling some of the best bike trails and paths throughout the country, from Vermont to Southern California. This week, we wanted to tell you about one of the most beautiful – and longest – trails in the country, the Great Allegheny Passage, which begins in Pittsburgh and ends in Cumberland, Maryland.
The route provides 141 miles of hiking and riding pathway through some beautiful forests, landscaping and city. The northern terminus joins with the Montour Trail, while the Southern trailhead in Cumberland connects to the C & O Canal Towpath, giving you a 345 mile journey to Washington, D.C.
The path follows a series of railroads that were an instrumental part of American history. They're part of a rail network that connected the United States during the 19th century, including the Pittsburgh, McKeesport and Youghiogheny Railroad, that carried coal and coke to steel mills.
Both mountain bikes and hybrids would be appropriate for this trail. There is something of an uphill slope as you approach the Eastern Continental Divide from both directions, but this is very gradual, and leisurely riders could easily find other parts of the trail that offer a more relaxed ride.
At the Cumberland trailhead the trail features a pedestrian mall with shops and restaurants.
One could very easily plan a vacation along the route, as it winds its way through several towns with overnight lodging. If you live near Pittsburgh, we highly recommend strapping your bicycle carrier rack to your car and heading to Pennsylvania for a wonderful Appalachian ride.