Great Allegheny Passage
|Great Allegheny Passage|
|Length||150 mi (241 km)|
|Location||Western Pennsylvania and Maryland|
|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 — the central trail of a network of long-distance hiker-biker trails throughout the Allegheny region of the Appalachian Mountains, connecting Washington, D.C. to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The GAP's first 9-mile (14 km) section near Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania opened in 1986. The 9-mile (14 km) section between Woodcock Hollow and Cumberland opened on December 13, 2006. In June 2013, thirty-five years after construction first began, the final GAP section was completed (from West Homestead to Pittsburgh) at an overall cost of $80 million and giving Pennsylvania the "most open trail miles in the nation" (900 miles, with 1,110 miles under development). The completion project was titled The Point Made and celebrations took place on June 15, 2013.
The multi-use trail, suitable for biking and walking, uses defunct corridors of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad, Union Railroad and the Western Maryland Railway — extending 150 miles (240 km) from Cumberland, Maryland to Point State Park in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (currently using Second Avenue in Pittsburgh, with plans underway to create an independent trail), and includes 52-mile (84 km) branch (Montour Trail) to the Pittsburgh International Airport.
Completing a continuous, non-motorized corridor from Pittsburgh's Point State Park 335 miles (539 km) to Washington, DC, the GAP connects with the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath trail, which runs the 184.5 miles (296.9 km) between Cumberland, Maryland and Washington, DC.
The Allegheny Trail Alliance (ATA) — a coalition of seven trail organizations related to the GAP (Friends of the Riverfront, Steel Valley Trail, Regional Trail Corporation, Ohiopyle State Park, and Mountains Maryland) maintains the 150–mile GAP, which is also a segment of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, one of eight nationally designated scenic trails.
The trail's formal name, the Great Allegheny Passage, was selected in 2001 by the ATA "after six years and more than 100 proposals" as "a name evocative of the geography and historical heritage" of the trail, having been suggested by Bill Metzger, editor of the ATA newsletter. The trail used a temporary name, the "Cumberland and Pittsburgh Trail," before its official name was adopted. The second runner up title for the trail was the "Allegheny Frontier Trail."
The route is traversed by "through-travelers" including hikers, backpackers and cyclists — in portion or entirety. Notable landmarks along the trail include:
- Point Park Pittsburgh, where the Allegheny River meets the Monongahela River to form the Ohio River
- 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.
- Dead Man's Hollow, former site of the Union Sewer Pipe Company located outside of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, now a 440-acre nature preserve and spur trail.
- Historic Dravo Cemetery, originally the Seneca Tribe's village known as Cyrie, later the home of the Dravo Methodist Church and Cemetery. Now a popular camping area / rest spot near Buena Vista, Pennsylvania.
- Ohiopyle State Park, bisected by the Youghiogheny, the most popular whitewater destination on the east coast.
- Fallingwater, a national architectural landmark designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Located very close to the trail, but not accessible from it.
- 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 with murals of the area's history and a map of the trail's elevation contours.
- Big Savage Tunnel, 3,295 feet (0.6 mi; 1.0 km), the lit tunnel carries the trail through Big Savage Mountain two miles east of the Eastern Continental Divide with a scenic vista just east of the tunnel — and is closed December 1-April 1 in protection from seasonal snow and ice.
- 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, discovered during construction of the railroad.
- Canal Place, the head of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (C&O) in Cumberland, Maryland where the C&O meets the former Western Maryland Railway (WM) and rail-trail.
- Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
- Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park
- Montour Trail
- Ohio River Trail
- Three Rivers Heritage Trail
- Erie to Pittsburgh Trail
- Youghiogheny River Trail
- List of rail trails
- "Meeting Minutes for October 17, 2013, and Report to SCOH October 18, 2013 (Addendum October 28, 2013)" (PDF). Denver, Colorado: Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. October 28, 2013. Retrieved June 9, 2014.
- 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.
- "Riders hit trail as last link in Great Allegheny Passage opens". Pittsburg Post Gazette, June 15, 2013, Diana Nelson Jones.
- "Bicyclists celebrate reaching end of Great Allegheny Passage trail". Pittsburg Post Gazette, June 16, 2013, Diana Nelson Jones.
- "150-mile bike trail dubbed the Great Allegheny Passage". Pittsburg Post Gazette, Don Hopey, January 18, 2001.
- "Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail". National Park Service. 2008-12-05. Retrieved 2008-12-17.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Great Allegheny Passage.|
- Allegheny Trail Alliance - comprehensive GAP web site
- Youghiogheny River Trail
- Pennsylvania DNR Rail Trail web page
- U.S. National Park Service, C&O Canal Towpath web page
- GAP Graphic Identity and Sign Guidelines Manual