Great Allegheny Passage
|Great Allegheny Passage|
Along the Great Allegheny Passage, near Milepost 100
|Length||150 mi (241 km)|
|Location||Western Pennsylvania and Maryland|
|Designation||National Recreation Trail|
|Elevation change||western: 1,066 feet (325 m);
eastern 1,786 feet (544 m)
|Highest point||Eastern Continental Divide just east of Deal, Pennsylvania, 2,392 ft (729 m)|
|Lowest point||east end: 606 feet (185 m) at Cumberland, Maryland;
west end: 720 feet (220 m) at Point State Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
|Right of way||Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad
Western Maryland Railway
The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) is a rail trail in Maryland and Pennsylvania. It is the central trail of a network of long-distance hiker-biker trails covering hundreds of miles through the Allegheny region of the Appalachian Mountains, connecting Washington, D.C. to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and beyond.
The multi-use trail, suitable for biking and walking, occupies abandoned corridors of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad, Union Railroad and the Western Maryland Railway. The Great Allegheny Passage extends 150 miles (240 km) from Cumberland, Maryland to Point State Park in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with a 52-mile (84 km) branch (Montour Trail) to the Pittsburgh International Airport.
This GAP also connects with the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath trail, which runs for an additional 185 miles (298 km) between Cumberland, Maryland and Washington, DC - creating a continuous non-motorized corridor, from Pittsburgh's Point State Park 339 miles (546 km)) to Washington, DC. The Great Allegheny Passage is a segment of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, one of eight nationally-designated scenic trails.
The route is popular for "through-travelers" including hikers, backpackers and cyclists traversing portions of the route from destination to destination, or the entire trail from end to end.
The Great Allegheny Passage is the key connecting segment of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, creating an off-road sight-seeing and backpacking corridor hundreds of miles long. Notable landmarks along the trail include:
- Fallingwater, a national architectural landmark designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
- Carrie Furnace, part of the Steel Valley Heritage Trail, along the Monongahela River.
- Kennywood amusement park near Duquesne, Pennsylvania, this section of the trail was restricted during September 2013 due to a landslide.
- Ohiopyle State Park, bisected by the Youghiogheny, the most popular whitewater destination on the east coast.
- Salisbury Viaduct, 1,908 feet (0.4 mi; 0.6 km), up to 100 feet (30 m) high across the Casselman River valley.
- Meyersdale, Pennsylvania Museum.
- Bollman Truss Bridge in Meyersdale, one of the two surviving cast-iron truss bridges in North America.
- the Eastern Continental Divide, the highest point of the trail, passes through a short tunnel embellished with paintings of the area's history and a map of the trail's elevation contours: "It's all downhill from here!"
- Big Savage Tunnel, 3,295 feet (0.6 mi; 1.0 km), lighted, carries the trail through Big Savage Mountain two miles east of the Eastern Continental Divide; there's a popular scenic vista just east of the tunnel.
- Mason-Dixon Line: the border where the trail crosses between Pennsylvania and Maryland
- Borden Tunnel: 957 feet (292 m) long, unlighted.
- Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, a working steam railroad operating next to the trail from Cumberland, Maryland to the college town of Frostburg, Maryland (and return), along the original trackage of the Western Maryland Railway.
- Brush Tunnel: 914 feet (279 m) long, lighted; the trail and the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad share this tunnel and pass through it side-by-side.
- Cumberland Bone Cave: (two or three miles west of Cumberland, Maryland: an archeological site containing bones of saber-toothed cats and other extinct animals; it was discovered during construction of the railroad.
- Canal Place, the head of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal in Cumberland, Maryland where it meets the former Western Maryland Railway (WM) and rail-trail. In the 19th century WM's predecessor railroads delivered coal, flour and other products to a wharf for transfer to canal boats destined for Williamsport, Maryland and Georgetown, Washington, D.C.
Additional landmarks along the C&O Canal portion, which continues past the GAP Trail into D.C. include:
- Paw Paw Tunnel, a 3,118 feet (0.6 mi; 1.0 km) long canal tunnel, unlighted.
- Antietam National Battlefield, located 2 miles (3.2 km) from Dam 4.
- Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, a National Historical Park and headquarters of the Appalachian Trail, which crosses over the Potomac gorge on a railroad bridge.
- Monocacy Aqueduct, an example of early American engineering.
- Great Falls of the Potomac River, the largest falls of any river on the eastern seaboard, and a destination for professional kayaking and rock-climbing.
- Mather Gorge and the Potomac palisades, a unique natural habitat of granite cliffs and boulders featuring the National Park Service's Billy Goat Trail.
- Georgetown, Washington, D.C., a historic town and neighborhood at the canal trailhead.
- The Potomac Heritage Trail continues south on a further bike trail past the Lincoln Memorial to Mount Vernon.
The Allegheny Trail Alliance is an affiliation of seven trail organizations involved with the Great Allegheny Passage: Friends of the Riverfront, Steel Valley Trail, Regional Trail Corporation, Ohiopyle State Park, and Mountains Maryland. Together they maintain the 150- mile Great Allegheny Passage.
At Cumberland the GAP system connects with the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath which is 184.5 miles long. The Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal Towpath create a non-motorized nearly 335-mile trail between Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh, PA.
The 9-mile (14 km) section between Woodcock Hollow and Cumberland opened on December 13, 2006. 150 miles (240 km) of continuous trail are now open from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Cumberland, Maryland. Currently, the trail is a lane on road from Second Avenue in Pittsburgh to Point State Park. Plans to take that section off road are underway. The Point Made Celebrations took place on June 15, 2013 celebrating the connection to the forks of the Ohio.
- Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
- Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park
- Montour Trail
- Ohio River Trail
- Youghiogheny River Trail
- List of rail trails
- "Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail". National Park Service. 2008-12-05. Retrieved 2008-12-17.
- Thomson, Candus (2006-12-13). "Trail's opening eyed as path to prosperity". The Baltimore Sun. p. 2. Retrieved 2006-12-20.
- "New bike path portion open for business in Maryland". The Washington Times. 2006-12-15. Retrieved 2006-12-20.
- Allegheny Trail Alliance - comprehensive GAP web site
- Three Rivers Heritage Trail web site
- Montour Trail web site
- Steel Valley Trail
- Youghiogheny River Trail
- Pennsylvania DNR Rail Trail web page
- Mountain Maryland Trails
- U.S. National Park Service, C&O Canal Towpath web page