Conde Naste magazine included this unique trail system in its “most beautiful rail-trail list” and you’ll quickly see why. On your way from Pittsburgh, PA, to Washington, DC, the multitude of natural, cultural and historically significant sites will astound you.
The initial 129 miles of this tour are on the Great Allegheny Passage from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, MD, located on abandoned railroad beds. The final 190 miles from Cumberland, MD to downtown Washington, DC, are on the C&O Canal Towpath, which is the heart of the C&O Canal National Park. You will not believe the tranquility and the beauty of this park; located in the middle of the suburban east coast. Read our in-depth blog post on the C&O Canal Towpath History here.
Talk about bucket list opportunities! Your journey will visit three states- PA, MD, WV and will visit the District of Columbia, and will pass through four national parks – C&O Canal, Antietam Battlefield, Harpers Ferry and Rock Creek Park.
Your 300+ miles of car-free rail trails begin just outside of Pittsburgh, PA. It won’t be long until the buildings are exchanged for a canopy of trees. We start at 761 feet in elevation, cross the Continental Divide at 2,932 feet and end at sea level. Along the way, we will ride past remnants of the early 1900s industrial revolution when Pittsburgh Steel was king. All of this happens with a maximum grade of 2% with only a very few exceptions.
While the grade is quite friendly, keep in mind that the daily mileage averages 50 miles a day. To maximize your enjoyment of the tour, riders will want to average 9 miles an hour.
Custom bike tour departures available for groups of 6 or more. Request a Tour Itinerary for more detailed information and logistics.
Descend the Allegheny Front of the Appalachian Mountains
Cross the Youghiogheny River on a 100'-tall railroad bridge
Ride over the 101' high Salisbury Viaduct
Transportation back to starting point
Historic Summit Inn
Fairfield Inn Cumberland
Country Inn at Berkeley Springs
The Bavarian Inn
Homewood Suites by Hilton
Day 1: Meet your guides in Boston, PA and take your first ride on the Great Allegheny Passage. You’ll pedal along the Youghiogheny River, through the stunning river gorge. A green tunnel of trees shades the trail for miles through Ohiopyle State Park. Right before town, you’ll pass over two spectacular bridges— a 100-foot-high railroad bridge over the river and the award-winning Yough River Trail bridge. Right after the bridges, you’ll find yourself in the quaint borough of Ohiopyle, where we call home!
Day 2: Wake up at the Summit Inn, where you can see the entire way to Pittsburgh on a clear day. Today you will tackle a 73 mile ride through three rail tunnels (don’t worry 23 miles is downhill) and over the Eastern Continental Divide. Your ride follows the meandering Middle Yough, the very waters boated by George Washington.
After a support stop, we’ll travel a short distance along the Casselman River. The ride along the Casselman takes us through a region once known for logging and coal mining. It is now dominated by wind farms! Soon enough, we are up and over the Eastern Continental Divide and cruising down into Cumberland, Maryland—our resting place for the evening.
Day 3: Today, we will start down the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath! You’ll see aqueducts, locks, lock houses, colonial and Native American settlements, and you’ll take a peek at the 3⁄4 mile long Paw Paw Tunnel. Fun Fact: Paw Paw Tunnel took its name from the paw paw, an exotic fruit that grows on the nearby ridges. The ride continues through Greenridge State Forest and Little Orleans before finishing the day in Hancock, Maryland.
Day 4: Great stone dams, bridges, and aqueducts characterize today’s ride. These monuments stand as a testament to the labor and ingenuity of a largely immigrant labor force who tried to tame the Potomac river through times of war and flooding. You’ll have the option to take some time to explore Fort Frederick, one of the largest fortifications built by English colonists in North America, in the morning.
In the afternoon, some riders may wish to take a tour of Antietam National Battlefield, a now pastoral setting where the bloodiest battle of the Civil War was fought. After the optional visit to Antietam, it is a short ride downhill into Shepherdstown, West Virginia, to the luxurious Bavarian Inn for the night.
Day 5: The day’s ride straddles the dividing line between the North and the South along the Potomac River, where numerous confrontations occurred during the Civil War. We will pass through Harper’s Ferry National Historic Park, where the Shenandoah River feeds into the Potomac. The town offers a dramatic landscape, historic shops, and cobblestone streets. Known for John Brown’s rebellion, Harper’s Ferry was the site of many key conflicts in the war. We will end the ride in White’s Ferry, Maryland.
Day 6: Today’s ride will take us through Great Falls of the Potomac before countryside begins to peel back and give way to the buzz of our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. End your ride at the Thompson Boat House and Mile 0 in Georgetown! We will provide a shuttle back to guests’ vehicles at the conclusion of the tour.
The historic Great Allegheny Passage isn’t just a path through the woods. The 10-foot-wide multipurpose trail is built on railroad corridors constructed to heavy-duty standards of gentle grades, sweeping curves and major bridges and tunnels that take you through the mountains, not over them. Read more…
The bridges and tunnels between Pittsburgh and Cumberland were all built in this short span of 2 years! This was an amazing industrial feat, considering the rough terrain and numerous river crossings that were required. Most of the original bridges are still in use by the trail… read more.
One of the best things about bike touring is eating food. Lots and lots of it, without consequence! The Great Allegheny Passage is one of the best touring routes because it goes through many different towns. Your journey along the GAP trail can be a food tour through the Allegheny Mountains! Read more…
5 Breakfasts | 6 Lunches | 3 Dinners
PP Double Occupancy
Standard Bike Rental
*This is required if you are traveling solo or if you are traveling with someone but require seperate beds