Planning Your Bike Ride on the Great Allegheny Passage – Part One

The Great Allegheny Passage is one of the great trail rides in the country. It covers 150 miles from Pittsburgh, PA to Cumberland, Md. It is a highly accessible bike ride with good surfaces throughout the trail. Once you have decided that you are going to take a bike ride along the Great Allegheny Passage you will need to start thinking about how to plan your route.

great allegheny passage photo

Photo by jmd41280

The first thing which you have to think about is how many days you have available for your trip. Linked to this question is how many miles do you feel that you want to cover each day. On average a comfortable pace for most people is around 10 mph on their bike. The speed limit on the trail is 15 miles per hour – but it is unlikely that anyone except the most experienced cyclist will want to travel at this pace.

It is very easy to do the math and see that if you want to travel 50 miles per day you will need 3 days on the trail, but if you have 5 days to spare you will only have to travel 30 miles a day. It is going to be a balance of how much time that you have available and how many miles that you feel that you can ride each day. If you want to take things at a reasonably leisurely place and allow time for taking in the scenery and spending a little time in the towns along the way a 5-day trip is ideal. However, if you have less time a 3-day ride is certainly very possible to complete the Great Allegheny Passage.

When you are thinking about how long to devote to your bike ride it is useful to do a little research into the towns along the trail. The Great Allegheny Passage has the advantage that there are many towns along the way. You are usually no further than 10 miles from the next town. Some places have more to offer than others so it is good to plan ahead as to where you may stop for lunch or stay overnight.

You will now be getting some idea about your daily mileage and fitting that in with the places that you want to explore along the way. You will then need to plan where you are going to stay. There are camp grounds along the way, but you definitely need to plan ahead. Surprisingly, the Great Allegheny Passage is not as set up for camping as you may expect. Camping is only permitted in designated areas. There are some places to camp in the towns along the way, but you do need to plan ahead to get a spot.

If you are considering staying in a hotel this has the advantage that you will have to pack less gear on your bike. Carrying a lot of stuff with you on your bike will slow you down quite a bit. The advantage of course is that you will save money if you camp. The cost of hotels can add up quickly.

There are some towns along the way which will have a choice of hotels which include chain hotels. This tends to save money as the alternatives are bed and breakfasts which can be on the more expensive side. It is easier to find hotels in Pittsburgh, Connellsville, Frostburg and Cumberland.