The Great Allegheny Passage took almost forty years to complete. This excellent trail which goes from Pittsburgh to Cumberland travels some 150 miles along the old Western Maryland railway track. The Great Allegheny Passage is a great trail for both beginners and more advanced cyclists. The trail is very well marked and paved.
You can tackle the whole trail in a weekend, or take a much more leisurely pace and spend time enjoying all the sights. The trail has the advantage that you are never very far away from one of the small towns which run alongside the route. There are towns about every ten miles along the trail – you can take some time to stop for lunch and explore, or use them as a place to stay overnight.
There are many highlights on the Great Allegheny Passage and everyone has their own favorites. However, these are the ones which we think you absolutely must make sure that you do not let pass you by.
1) The Big Savage Tunnel
This was one of the most difficult parts of the trail in the whole project. It cost $12.5 million to restore the tunnel, but there was literally no way around the problem. It remained a major obstacle to the completion of the trail – it takes over an hour to walk over it. It was important to the success of the project that it became possible for bikers and hikers to pass through the Big Savage Tunnel.
The Big Savage Tunnel is about 9 miles from the town of Meyersdale. It is closed for the winter as the cold, ice forming weather may cause damage to the tunnel. It has doors at each end which are closed in mid-December and reopen sometime in the middle of April.
Big Savage is 3,294 feet long and is located on one of the highest points of the trail at almost 2,400 feet. The view is well worth taking some time to absorb. Fortunately, the tunnel is now completely lit and well paved. One of the best views on the trail is from the south end of The Big Savage Tunnel. It is a highlight of any bike ride or hike on the trail.
2) Western Maryland Station in Cumberland
Cumberland is either your starting or finishing point if you ride the whole of the Great Allegheny Passage. The restored Western Maryland Station can be a very welcome sight for those finishing the 150-mile trail. The station has been restored to its former glory and now offers steam train rides along the old track. The red brick building is a great example of a Victorian red brick railroad station of the time.
3) The Salisbury Viaduct
This was once the longest bridge on the Western Maryland Railroad at almost 2,000 feet long. It was built in 1912 and decommissioned in 1975. It became part of the Great Allegheny Passage in 1998. The towers of the structure are almost 200 feet high, so you get a great view when you ride your bike over this part of the trail.
4) The Tree Tunnels
There are some spectacular manmade structures on the trail, but mother nature has certainly provided some of her own marvels for us. The tree tunnels are formed by branches on either side of the trail reaching out and interlocking – you can find them between Ohiopyle and Confluence. They provide some very welcome shade for hikers and bikers on the trail in the hot summers.
For 4 more sights to see click here for part two.