Select Page

Pennsylvania Cycling Vacation

Pennsylvania Cycling Vacation

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.

Cycling in PennsylvaniaAlso 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.




About The Author

Tom Oxby

Tom Oxby writes about worldwide adventure travel including bicycle touring, hiking and canoeing.

1 Comment

  1. Bruniinha

    Sounds like it could be a really fun trip! Depending on where you innted to start and finish, this could be a 600 plus mile ride. From what you’ve described, it sounds like you all may be looking at something like a 10-12 day jaunt. Logistics of a long bicycle tour like this can be pretty daunting. To me a key to success is asking yourself a bunch of questions about how you want to do the ride. Answers to these questions determine much about the equipment and food you’ll need.First off do you really want to camp? Camping means you need: a good quality tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, toiletries, camp stove, eating/cooking utinsels, towels, etc., etc., etc. This isn’t an insurmountable problem, but it means you’ve got to carry lots of equipment with you. (Plus, you’ve got to buy, beg, borrow or steal all the gear you’ll need to camp.) You’ll need racks on your bicycles and panniers to carry everything. Can you get all of this stuff? It also means planning your trip around places you can camp. Would you prefer to stay in hotels? This means somewhat less stuff to carry, but is a lot more expensive. Again, you’ll need to plan your route to get you within range of places you can stay. Plus, you’ll be going through somewhat larger towns where you can find hotels and other places to stay. As an emergency precaution, I’d want to have sleeping bags, and emergency shelter, etc. in case I got lost or simply coundn’t make it to a planned hotel. So, you’ve still got to carry some of the same stuff as if you are planning to camp all the time. If you book places in advance, to insure you have a room, you lose a lot of flexibility in your trip. If you come down through the mountains like the Blue Ridge Parkway, there aren’t a lot of places to stay on the parkway. Thus, you may wind up having to climb to the parkway in the morning and descend to a town and a hotel in the evenings. How and what do you want to eat on the trip? You’re going to work up a powerful hunger riding 50-10 miles per day. It is cheaper to plan on making your own meals, but you’ll have to stop in grocery and convenience stores along the way to get supplies. In the country, you won’t be able to count on finding your favorite gels, etc. so you’ll have to stock up on those up front. Fast foods and restaurants are more expensive, but convenient.Do you want to go flatlands or mountains? The beauty of an east coast tour is you can choose to do either (or both.) As you know, summer in the East is hot and sticky. If you go up in the mountains it’ll be much cooler, but the riding will be vastly harder.Are you all capable of a ride of this magnitude? This type of ride requires a lot of physical and mental strength. You really ought to take at least one multi-day shake down trip prior to making this ride. With luck, the weather on your shake down trip will be horribly windy and rainy one day then incredibly hot and humid. This will give you a great idea of how horrid it can be! If you enjoy yourself and all of your equipment works out well, you’ll know you can handle whatever comes. There are lots of other things to consider and get together, but this should get you started with your planning.


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *