Top 10 Trail Towns along the GAP Rail-Trail
Cumberland, MD is Mile 0 of the Great Allegheny Passage and Mile 184.5 of the C&O Canal Towpath. This charming Victorian community is a crossroads for all sorts of travelers. Canal Place, where the GAP mile marker 0 is located, is home to the National Park Service Visitor Center, the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, the Cumberland Trail Connection bike shop, and many restaurants. Close by, Cumberland’s historic city center has a pedestrian mall with shops, boutiques, galleries and dining. Cumberland also has many lodging options that are accustomed to catering to cyclists.
2. Frostburg, MD
Frostburg, nicknamed “Mountain City,” is home to Frostburg State University. Frostburg’s Main Street, up a short hill from the GAP trail, has several restaurants and galleries in walking distance. The town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and named a “Maryland Main Street Community.” We recommend the Mountain City Coffee House & Creamery, Fat Boy’s Pizza Shack and the Toasted Goat Winery.
3. Meyersdale, PA
The highest town along the GAP, Meyersdale is Pennsylvania’s maple syrup capitol. It tends to be quite a bit cooler here than in Cumberland, so bring an extra sweater! If you happen to pass through Meyersdale in March, you can catch the Pennsylvania Maple Festival. Take a load off at any of Meyersdale’s quaint bed & breakfasts (we love Yoder’s Guest House and the Levi Deal Mansion), visit Maple Leaf Outfitters for any of your trail needs, and don’t miss the maple syrup milkshakes at Donges Drive-In.
4. Rockwood, PA
Rockwood is a small, but pleasant place to stop along the trail. The Rockwood Mill Shoppes on Main Street has a historic opera house to tour, as well as pizza and ice cream. If you’re stopping for the night, the Hostel on Main has safe bicycle storage, showers and laundry. The Gingerbread House Bed & Breakfast is a more private lodging option.
5. Confluence, PA
Confluence is Ohiopyle’s sleepy neighbor. But don’t be fooled, Confluence still lots to offer! Have a margarita and a snack at the Lucky Dog Cafe, then spin into town to check out Confluence Cyclery, Confluence Creative Arts Center, and a scenic view of the Youghiogheny River. Confluence has a campground, as well as a few B&B’s and vacation rental properties.
6. Ohiopyle, PA
Don’t blow past pretty little Ohiopyle! This river town, smack in the middle of Pennsylvania’s biggest state park, is a real highlight along the GAP trail. This is where our Wilderness Voyageurs headquarters and outfitter store is located, as well as our full-service Ohiopyle bike shop. The Youghiogheny River flows directly past our outfitter store, where we offer whitewater rafting trips for any experience level. Take a stroll to Ohiopyle Falls and check out the new State Park Visitor Center. Don’t forget about the two Frank Lloyd Wright properties within five miles of town! Refuel at Falls City Pub before camping either at the State Park Campground or checking into your lodging for the night.
7. Connellsville, PA
Just 60 miles from Pittsburgh, Connellsville offers a few more amenities, like a huge grocery store and a Wal-Mart! Connellsville has bike and gift shops, restaurants, a hospital, museums and lodging, including a large hotel right next to the GAP trail. You’ve made it this far, so find yourself a treat: visit the Colebrook Chocolate Company for ice cream, fancy chocolates and more. If you’re feeling healthier, there’s also a frozen yogurt shop called New Haven Trailside Treats.
8. West Newton, PA
A small and charming town, West Newton has bed & breakfasts, retail stores, restaurants and pubs. The West Newton Bicycle Shop can do service and repairs if you need any. If you’re in for a layover day, you can rent a canoe and float down the Yough for a while to give your biking muscles a rest. Bloom Brew, an excellent local craft brewery, has 24 beers on tap.
9. McKeesport, PA
McKeesport sits at the confluence of the Monongahela and Youghiogheny Rivers, 12 miles upstream from Pittsburgh. George Washington stopped here a lot during the French and Indian War. Now McKeesport is a “trail town” and has three trails within the city – the GAP, the McKeesport-Versailles Loop Trail and the McKees Point Trail. Visit the 181-slip Marina at McKees Point Marina, with boating, fishing, outdoor events and weekend breakfast buffets. McKessport also has a hostel with lodging from $30 per night.
10. Pittsburgh, PA
The ‘Burgh’s got it all! Pittsburgh is located at the Forks of the Ohio, where the Monongahela River and the Allegheny River join to form the Ohio River. Once a center for heavy steel and coal industry, Pittsburgh has cleaned up its act and is now reaching toward the age of tech development. Riverfronts are being thoughtfully developed, with an eye for the beauty and recreation opportunities of the city’s many riverbanks. There’s a lot to do in the city, from eating at upscale restaurants and visiting museums to hiking the city’s many parks and going to sporting events. Biking around the city, with its many hills and one-way streets, can be a fun challenge. The city has made great strides in building safe bikeways and raising public awareness for cyclists. So Visit BikePGH.org to find a bike route map and read about cycling safety. If you’re riding in traffic, always use your lights and signal turns with your hands!