Ontario cyclists besides exploring this province like to visit nearby regions such as Route Verte in Quebec or the Finger Lakes of Upper New York State. Now you should consider the Great Allegheny Passage for your next cycling vacation.
And I am not alone in discovering this route as we met other riders from Toronto along the bike path near a town called “Deal”. For Toronto residents the drive is same as heading to the Eastern Townships or Vermont, about 7 hours.
Great Allegheny Passage
The Great Allegheny Passage is a rail trail which starts in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and heads for 150 miles to Cumberland, Maryland where it connects to the C & O Canal Trail which goes into Washington, a total of 335 miles.
You might figure why drive all that way for a rail trail? This one which only permits cyclists, walkers and those on horses (in sections) packs a lot of interesting things to see. There are several tunnels with the Big Savage at about 3,000 feet, great vistas of the surrounding countryside, the Youghiogheny River where you can go white water rafting or just watch them as you ride along.
Also you will cross the Salisbury Viaduct which is almost 2,000 feet long and there are other viaducts and bridges as you cycle through the scenic mountains and over the Eastern Continental Divide, not a big challenge on a rail trail. Although the trail ascends or descents slowly you will be riding through the Appalachian Mountains and Laurel Highlands.
In each town the train station is a tourist office with rest rooms and route maps. It appeared that there were bike stores with rentals in each town as well. You will not be alone, expect plenty of other cyclists along the route.
For history lovers you will be crossing the Mason Dixon Line, dropping into Harper’s Ferry and much more. There are distance signs each mile along with the occasional plaque with bits of history, information plants or animals, etc.
Some of our group camped while the rest of us stayed in a cabin in a state park, however there are plenty of B & B accommodation as well. So instead of bicycle touring with packed panniers we drove to different trailheads each day to tackle a different section. If you do cycle the entire route there are several companies which can transport you and your bike back to your starting location.
Click on the link for other regional cycling routes. Find out why the Great Allegheny Passage has become the premier bike route in the Eastern USA.