Great Allegheny Passage In Pennsylvania

Here is everything you need to know about the Great Allegheny Passage:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Pennsylvania
  • Length: 150 miles.
  • Type: Biking
  • Surface: paved
  • Managed By: Great Allegheny Passage Conservancy
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website:

The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) is a 150-mile long trail that stretches from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Cumberland, Maryland. The history of this trail dates back to the early 19th century when it was first envisioned as a transportation route to connect the Ohio River Valley with the Chesapeake Bay. The construction of the trail began in the 1830s as part of the larger plan to build the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (C&O Canal) and the Western Maryland Railway.

The C&O Canal was intended to provide a water route from Washington, D.C. to the Ohio River, while the Western Maryland Railway aimed to connect Baltimore with the Ohio River Valley. The construction of these transportation systems required the development of a path through the rugged Allegheny Mountains. The route chosen for this purpose became the Great Allegheny Passage.

The construction of the GAP faced numerous challenges due to the mountainous terrain, including the need to build tunnels, bridges, and locks. The project required extensive labor, with workers using hand tools and explosives to carve through the mountains. The completion of the GAP in 1871 marked a significant achievement in transportation infrastructure, providing a vital link between the industrial cities of the Midwest and the East Coast.

Over time, the transportation needs shifted, and the C&O Canal and Western Maryland Railway fell into disuse. However, the potential for the GAP as a recreational trail was recognized, and efforts were made to convert it into a multi-use path. In the 1980s and 1990s, various organizations and government agencies collaborated to restore and develop the trail, making it accessible for hikers, cyclists, and other outdoor enthusiasts. Today, the Great Allegheny Passage is a popular destination for those seeking to explore the region’s history, natural beauty, and enjoy outdoor activities.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: The Great Allegheny Passage starts at Point State Park in downtown Pittsburgh, where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers meet to form the Ohio River.

2. Homestead, Pennsylvania: This access point is located near the Waterfront shopping complex in Homestead, just a few miles southeast of downtown Pittsburgh.

3. McKeesport, Pennsylvania: McKeesport is a city located about 12 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. The trailhead is near the McKeesport Marina.

4. Boston, Pennsylvania: This access point is located in the small town of Boston, about 20 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

5. Connellsville, Pennsylvania: Connellsville is a city located about 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. The trailhead is near the Youghiogheny River and offers parking and amenities.

6. Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania: Ohiopyle State Park is a popular access point for the Great Allegheny Passage. It is located about 70 miles southeast of Pittsburgh and offers camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

7. Confluence, Pennsylvania: Confluence is a small town located at the confluence of the Youghiogheny River and Casselman River. The trailhead is near the town center.

8. Rockwood, Pennsylvania: Rockwood is a small town located about 100 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. The trailhead is near the Rockwood Mill Shoppes & Opera House.

9. Meyersdale, Pennsylvania: Meyersdale is a borough located about 110 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. The trailhead is near the Meyersdale Train Station, which also serves as a visitor center.

10. Frostburg, Maryland: Frostburg is a small city located about 130 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. The trailhead is near the Frostburg Depot, which houses a museum and visitor center.

11. Cumberland, Maryland: The Great Allegheny Passage ends in Cumberland, Maryland. The trailhead is near Canal Place, which offers parking, amenities, and access to the C&O Canal Towpath.

Transportation Available

1. Amtrak – National passenger railroad service with a station in Cumberland, MD.
2. Greyhound – Intercity bus service with a stop in Cumberland, MD.
3. Pittsburgh International Airport – Major airport serving the Pittsburgh area, located approximately 30 miles from the Great Allegheny Passage.
4. Uber – Ride-hailing service available in the region.
5. Lyft – Ride-hailing service available in the region.
6. Mountain Maryland Transit – Local bus service operating in Allegany County, MD.
7. Trail Town Shuttle – Shuttle service specifically catering to cyclists and hikers along the Great Allegheny Passage.
8. Bike Rental Shops – Various bike rental shops located along the Great Allegheny Passage for convenient access to bicycles.
9. Car Rental Agencies – Multiple car rental agencies available in nearby cities such as Cumberland, MD, and Pittsburgh, PA.
10. Taxi Services – Local taxi companies providing transportation services in the area.


The Great Allegheny Passage is a 150-mile long trail that stretches from Cumberland, Maryland to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Along the trail, there are several amenities available for visitors. Here is a list of amenities commonly found along the Great Allegheny Passage:

1. Restrooms: There are restrooms available at various points along the trail, including trailheads, visitor centers, and some towns along the route.

2. Parking: Parking areas are available at trailheads and access points along the Great Allegheny Passage. These parking areas provide a safe place for visitors to leave their vehicles while they explore the trail.

3. Camping Sites: There are designated camping areas along the Great Allegheny Passage where visitors can set up tents or use camping facilities. Some popular camping sites include the Husky Haven Campground, Roundbottom Campground, and Ohiopyle State Park.

4. Picnic Areas: Scattered along the trail, there are picnic areas where visitors can take a break, enjoy a meal, or simply relax. These areas often have picnic tables, benches, and sometimes grills for cooking.

5. Water Stations: There are water stations available at various points along the trail, allowing visitors to refill their water bottles and stay hydrated during their journey.

6. Bike Rentals: In some towns along the Great Allegheny Passage, bike rental shops are available. These shops offer a variety of bicycles for rent, including mountain bikes, hybrid bikes, and electric bikes.

7. Bike Repair Stations: Along the trail, there are bike repair stations equipped with tools and air pumps. These stations are useful for minor bike repairs or adjustments.

8. Visitor Centers: There are visitor centers located at certain points along the trail, such as Ohiopyle State Park and Cumberland Visitor Center. These centers provide information about the trail, maps, exhibits, and sometimes gift shops.

9. Food and Beverage: There are restaurants, cafes, and convenience stores located in towns along the Great Allegheny Passage. These establishments offer food, snacks, and beverages for visitors to refuel during their journey.

10. Lodging: In towns along the trail, there are various lodging options available, including hotels, bed and breakfasts, and campgrounds. These accommodations provide a place for visitors to rest and rejuvenate after a day of exploring the trail.

It’s important to note that amenities may vary along different sections of the trail, so it’s advisable to check specific locations and plan accordingly.

Nearby Services

1. Yough Plaza Motel – Convenient lodging option near the Great Allegheny Passage.
2. Falls City Pub – Local pub offering food services along the Great Allegheny Passage.
3. Confluence House Bed & Breakfast – Charming B&B providing lodging near the trail.
4. Lucky Dog Cafe – Casual eatery serving delicious food along the Great Allegheny Passage.
5. Rockwood Mill Shoppes & Opera House – Historic lodging and dining establishment in Rockwood.
6. Ohiopyle House Cafe – Cozy cafe offering food services near the Great Allegheny Passage.
7. Morguen Toole Company – Unique lodging and dining experience in Meyersdale.
8. Husky Haven Campground – Campground providing lodging options for outdoor enthusiasts.
9. Frostburg Palace Theatre – Historic theater offering lodging and entertainment in Frostburg.
10. Garrett 8 Cinemas – Movie theater providing lodging and entertainment options in Garrett.

Great Allegheny Passage Difficulty Notes

The Great Allegheny Passage offers a moderate difficulty level for cyclists and hikers. The trail spans approximately 150 miles, starting from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and ending in Cumberland, Maryland. While the trail is mostly flat and follows old railroad beds, there are some sections with gradual inclines and descents, particularly when crossing the Eastern Continental Divide. These sections may require some extra effort, but overall, the trail is well-maintained and suitable for riders and walkers of various fitness levels. Additionally, the trail provides stunning views of the surrounding landscapes, including rivers, forests, and charming small towns, making the journey both physically rewarding and visually captivating.

Features And Attractions

1. Point State Park – Located in Pittsburgh, this park marks the official start of the Great Allegheny Passage. It offers stunning views of the city’s skyline and the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers.

2. Fort Pitt Museum – Situated within Point State Park, this museum showcases the history of the French and Indian War and the role of Fort Pitt in the region’s history.

3. The Three Rivers Heritage Trail – This trail runs along the rivers in Pittsburgh and offers beautiful views of the city’s skyline, bridges, and waterfront.

4. The Hot Metal Bridge – This former railroad bridge has been converted into a pedestrian and bicycle bridge, providing panoramic views of the Monongahela River and the city.

5. Ohiopyle State Park – Located in southwestern Pennsylvania, this park is a popular destination along the Great Allegheny Passage. It features stunning waterfalls, including the famous Ohiopyle Falls, as well as hiking trails, whitewater rafting, and camping opportunities.

6. Fallingwater – Designed by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Fallingwater is a must-visit site near Ohiopyle. This iconic house is built over a waterfall and is considered a masterpiece of modern architecture.

7. The Salisbury Viaduct – This impressive railroad bridge spans the Casselman River Valley and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.

8. The Big Savage Tunnel – This tunnel, located near the Maryland-Pennsylvania border, is one of the highlights of the Great Allegheny Passage. It is over 3,000 feet long and provides a unique experience for cyclists and hikers.

9. Frostburg – This charming town in Maryland is a popular stop along the trail. It features historic buildings, including the Frostburg Depot, which now serves as a visitor center and museum.

10. Cumberland – The endpoint of the Great Allegheny Passage, Cumberland is a historic city with a rich history. Visitors can explore the C&O Canal National Historical Park, visit the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, or learn about the region’s coal mining heritage at the Allegany Museum.

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets are allowed on the Great Allegheny Passage but must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Clean up after your pet and dispose of waste properly.
3. Bicycles are allowed on the trail, but motorized vehicles are prohibited.
4. Camping is allowed at designated campsites along the trail. Obtain necessary permits if required.
5. Open fires are not permitted along the trail. Use designated fire pits or stoves for cooking.
6. Respect the natural environment and wildlife. Do not disturb or harm plants or animals.
7. Leave no trace: pack out all trash and dispose of it in designated receptacles.
8. Observe seasonal restrictions, if any, such as closures during hunting seasons or inclement weather.
9. Be considerate of other trail users. Yield to pedestrians and slower-moving traffic.
10. Follow all posted signs and regulations along the trail.
11. Use caution and be aware of your surroundings, especially at road crossings.
12. Stay on designated trails and do not trespass onto private property.
13. Bicyclists should wear helmets and follow all traffic laws.
14. Be prepared with appropriate gear, water, and snacks for your journey.
15. Check for any trail updates or closures before your trip.

Seasonal Information

The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) is a stunning 150-mile trail that stretches from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Cumberland, Maryland. This iconic trail offers breathtaking views of the Allegheny Mountains, charming small towns, and a rich history. The best times of the year to visit the Great Allegheny Passage depend on your preferences and the activities you wish to engage in.

Spring and fall are considered the best seasons to explore the GAP. In spring, the trail comes alive with vibrant wildflowers and lush greenery. The weather is mild, making it perfect for hiking, biking, or even horseback riding. Fall, on the other hand, offers a spectacular display of colors as the leaves change, creating a picturesque landscape. The crisp air and cooler temperatures make it an ideal time for outdoor activities.

During the summer months, the Great Allegheny Passage is bustling with visitors. The trail is at its busiest, especially on weekends, as people take advantage of the warm weather. This is a great time for families to explore the trail together, as there are plenty of opportunities for picnics, camping, and swimming in the nearby rivers and lakes.

It’s important to note that some sections of the Great Allegheny Passage may have seasonal closures. For instance, during the winter months, certain portions of the trail may be inaccessible due to snow and ice. It’s always recommended to check the trail conditions and closures before planning your visit. Additionally, some amenities along the trail, such as visitor centers, restaurants, and shops, may have limited hours or be closed during the off-peak seasons. However, there are still plenty of options available for accommodations and dining in the nearby towns along the trail.

Overall, the Great Allegheny Passage offers a unique experience throughout the year. Whether you prefer the vibrant colors of fall, the blooming beauty of spring, or the lively atmosphere of summer, there is a season that will suit your preferences. Just be sure to plan accordingly and check for any seasonal closures to make the most of your visit to this remarkable trail.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Trailheads: Multiple trailheads along the Great Allegheny Passage are wheelchair accessible, providing easy entry points for individuals with mobility challenges.
2. Paved Surface: The trail is predominantly paved, ensuring a smooth and accessible surface for wheelchair users.
3. Accessible Restrooms: ADA-compliant restrooms are available at various points along the trail, providing accessible facilities for all visitors.
4. Accessible Parking: Designated accessible parking spaces are available at trailheads, allowing individuals with disabilities to park conveniently.
5. Accessible Picnic Areas: Wheelchair-accessible picnic areas are provided along the trail, offering a comfortable space for visitors to rest and enjoy a meal.
6. Accessible Camping Facilities: Campgrounds along the Great Allegheny Passage offer accessible camping facilities, including accessible campsites and restrooms.
7. Accessible Lodging Options: Nearby lodging options offer accessible accommodations, ensuring a comfortable stay for individuals with disabilities.
8. Accessible Visitor Centers: Visitor centers along the trail are equipped with accessible entrances, restrooms, and facilities to provide information and assistance to all visitors.
9. Accessible Water Fountains: Wheelchair-accessible water fountains are available at various points along the trail, allowing visitors to stay hydrated.
10. Accessible Trail Signs: Trail signs are designed with accessibility in mind, featuring clear and visible information for all users, including those with visual impairments.
11. Accessible Trail Bridges: The trail features accessible bridges, allowing wheelchair users to cross over waterways and other obstacles safely.
12. Accessible Trail Gates: Gates along the trail are designed to be wheelchair accessible, ensuring easy passage for individuals with mobility challenges.
13. Accessible Trail Markers: Trail markers are placed at regular intervals and are designed to be easily visible and readable for all users, including those with visual impairments.
14. Accessible Trail Information: Trail maps, brochures, and other informational materials are available in accessible formats, such as large print or digital versions, to accommodate individuals with visual impairments.
15. Accessible Transportation Options: Accessible transportation services, such as shuttle buses or rental equipment, are available to assist individuals with disabilities in accessing and enjoying the Great Allegheny Passage.

Safety Information

1. Stay on designated trails: Stick to the marked paths to avoid getting lost or wandering into unsafe areas.
2. Carry a map and compass: Always have a map and compass handy to navigate the trail and ensure you stay on the right path.
3. Be aware of wildlife: Keep a safe distance from wildlife and avoid feeding or approaching them.
4. Use insect repellent: Protect yourself from ticks, mosquitoes, and other insects by applying insect repellent before starting your journey.
5. Stay hydrated: Carry enough water and stay hydrated throughout your trip to prevent dehydration.
6. Dress appropriately: Wear comfortable, weather-appropriate clothing and sturdy footwear to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
7. Use sunscreen: Apply sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays, even on cloudy days.
8. Travel in groups: Whenever possible, hike or bike with a companion or in a group for added safety.
9. Be cautious at road crossings: Pay attention to traffic and use caution when crossing roads along the trail.
10. Carry a first aid kit: Have a basic first aid kit with you to address minor injuries or emergencies.
11. Secure your belongings: Keep your personal belongings secure and within sight to prevent theft.
12. Respect private property: Stay on public land and respect private property boundaries along the trail.
13. Be mindful of weather conditions: Check the weather forecast before your trip and be prepared for changing conditions.
14. Follow trail etiquette: Yield to other trail users, be courteous, and follow any posted rules or regulations.
15. Inform someone of your plans: Let a friend or family member know about your trip plans, including your expected route and return time.
16. Stay alert and aware: Pay attention to your surroundings and be aware of any potential hazards or suspicious activities.
17. Carry necessary supplies: Pack essentials such as food, snacks, a flashlight, a whistle, and a multi-tool for any unforeseen situations.
18. Plan for emergencies: Familiarize yourself with emergency contact numbers and nearby medical facilities along the trail.
19. Be cautious of steep slopes and cliffs: Exercise caution when navigating steep slopes or cliffs, and avoid getting too close to the edge.
20. Leave no trace: Practice Leave No Trace principles by packing out all trash and minimizing your impact on the environment.

Conservation Notes

The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) is a 150-mile long trail that stretches from Cumberland, Maryland to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As a significant part of the larger trail network known as the Great American Rail-Trail, the conservation status of the Great Allegheny Passage is of utmost importance. The trail traverses through diverse landscapes, including forests, rivers, and historic sites, making it a valuable resource for both recreational activities and conservation efforts.

The conservation status of the Great Allegheny Passage is generally considered to be in good condition. The trail is managed by a partnership between the Allegheny Trail Alliance, the National Park Service, and various state and local agencies. These organizations work together to ensure the preservation and maintenance of the trail, as well as the surrounding natural and cultural resources.

Efforts have been made to protect and restore the biodiversity along the Great Allegheny Passage. The trail passes through several protected areas, including the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park and the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site. These areas provide habitat for a variety of plant and animal species, some of which are considered rare or threatened. Conservation initiatives focus on maintaining the integrity of these habitats, controlling invasive species, and promoting the restoration of native vegetation.

Additionally, the Great Allegheny Passage serves as a corridor for wildlife movement, allowing for the conservation of species that rely on large, connected habitats. The trail is designed to minimize its impact on wildlife, with measures such as wildlife crossings and designated sensitive areas. Conservationists also work to educate trail users about the importance of respecting and protecting the natural environment, encouraging responsible behavior and minimizing disturbances to wildlife and their habitats.

Overall, the conservation status of the Great Allegheny Passage is a testament to the collaborative efforts of various organizations and individuals dedicated to preserving the natural and cultural heritage of the region. Through ongoing conservation initiatives, the trail continues to provide a valuable recreational resource while safeguarding the biodiversity and ecological integrity of the areas it traverses.

Leave a Comment