5 Spectacular Stops along the Great Allegheny Passage

5 Spectacular Stops along the Great Allegheny Passage

The Great Allegheny Passage is a 150-mile trail offering spectacular bicycling adventures that starts right in Downtown Pittsburgh

Travelers have officially taken notice of an Only in Pittsburgh bucket-list attraction, as the Great Allegheny Passage has been named a winner in the 2023 USA TODAY 10 Best Readers’ Choice travel award contest for Best Recreational Trail

The 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage (commonly called the GAP) connects Pittsburgh and Cumberland, Maryland, where it meets the C&O Canal Towpath. Together, the two paths create a nearly level journey between Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. 

Full of breathtaking views, the complete trip is a bucket list experience for bike enthusiasts of all ages. Plan your own trip and stop by any number of bed and breakfasts, inns or campsites along the way. Or, connect with the team at Golden Triangle Bike, ready to help with everything from bike rentals to shuttle services and more.

Photo Credit: @Dreamer_DC on Instagram

Not ready for the long haul? No problem! There are a number of ways to get out and explore portions of the Great Allegheny Passage. The official website is an excellent resource to utilize when creating your ideal GAP experience.

No matter what your plans are, be sure to carve out a few extra days at the beginning or the end to explore Pittsburgh. From eclectic arts and cultural attractions, to always entertaining sporting events, to award-winning breweries and so much more, it’s definitely a must! 

Check out these five gems on your next day trip or overnight:

1. Point State Park

The Great Allegheny Passage begins and ends at Pittsburgh’s majestic Point State Park, right at the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers. Look for a bronze medallion next to the famous fountain at the park’s triangular tip. Check out the Fort Pitt Museum and its exhibits which document the city’s birth as a French trading outpost and transformation into steel capital.  

2. Hot Metal Bridge

Once carrying ladle transfer cars containing molten steel across the mighty Monongahela River, this double-span 1,174-foot bridge is a Pittsburgh icon, and today it carries hikers and bicyclists on the GAP via a series of wide ramps. From Hot Metal Bridge's center, you’ll take in expansive views of the Downtown Pittsburgh skyline and peek at coal barges and pleasure boats below. From its far side, explore Pittsburgh’s artsy and historic South Side.

3. Whitaker and Port Perry Flyovers

The Whitaker and Port Perry Flyovers are specially-designed bridges that carry travelers on the GAP through a prominent industrial area in Pittsburgh’s steel valley.  From one, you get great views of Kennywood Park’s Steel Curtain roller coaster. From the other, you can see where British General Edward Braddock was mortally wounded by French and Indian opponents on route to Fort Duquesne. Both bridges are prime locations for trainspotting. Look for Amtrak’s Capitol Limited making its runs among Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cumberland, and Washington, D.C. 

4. Salisbury Viaduct

You’re rewarded with 360-degree views of the surrounding forests and farmland reward travelers when crossing the 1,908-foot Salisbury Viaduct, which soars 101 feet above the Casselman River just west of Meyersdale, Pa. The longest trestle on the Great Allegheny Passage, it’s a magnificent place to watch the sunrise or sunset, and breathtaking during a foggy spring morning.

5. Big Savage Tunnel

Making bicycle travel possible through the rugged ridges of the Allegheny Mountains, the 3,291-foot Big Savage Tunnel offers a cool alternative from the summer sun and a respite from gusty winds in the spring and fall. It’s fitted with custom arched portal doors and a modern lighting system. The eastern portal reveals an expansive overlook with benches and a picnic area where you can gaze into four states. The western portal faces the Eastern Continental Divide, from which it’s all downhill to Pittsburgh.

The Great Ride - a documentary

WQED explores one of America’s most treasured biking destinations. Consisting of two connecting trails, the C&O Canal Towpath (Washington, D.C. to Cumberland, Maryland) and the Great Allegheny Passage (Cumberland, MD to Pittsburgh, PA), cyclists from all over the world are enjoying 335 uninterrupted miles of breathtaking scenery and fascinating history.