5 Spectacular Stops along the Great Allegheny Passage

5 Spectacular Stops along the Great Allegheny Passage

The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) is a 150-mile, non-motorized path between Cumberland, Maryland and Downtown Pittsburgh, and offers spectacular bicycling and hiking adventures!

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 2022 USA TODAY 10 Best Readers’ Choice travel award contest for Best Recreational Trail

With stupendous views along its gentle grade and smooth surface, the GAP connects a charming chain of trail towns via 16 bridges, four tunnels, and thousands of photo ops. The GAP is perfect for day trips, overnights, and thru-rides, and its beauty and ingenuity earned it first entry in the National Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Hall of Fame.

There are bikes to rent from local outfitters like Golden Triangle Bike, plenty of trailhead parking, standard wayfinding signage to guide your outings, and all kinds of cafés, ice creameries, and breweries for when you want a treat. You can find comfortable lodging at bed-and-breakfasts or hotels. Shuttle services are available for your luggage. Pittsburgh is the perfect spot for launching or ending your trip.

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 its 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.