Explore mile by mile! These short day trips showcase some of the best features along the Great Allegheny Passage and the adjoining C&O Canal Towpath. Use these itineraries as starting points to create your own adventure.
From Ohiopyle to Confluence, and back
20.6 total miles, Great Allegheny Passage
This is the classic Great Allegheny Passage ride! Start in Ohiopyle and head east on the first completed section of the GAP and through Ohiopyle State Park, famous for its whitewater rafting on the Youghiogheny River. The GAP meanders through the state’s deepest gorge on your way to Confluence, where there are many choices for lunch or dinner. Visit the charming town square! Upon your return to Ohiopyle, be sure to check out the Ohiopyle Low and High Bridges, and take a short hike through Ferncliff Peninsula Natural Area, a National Natural Landmark.
Cedar Creek Circuit
From Cedar Creek Park to West Newton, and back
7.6 total miles, Great Allegheny Passage
Park at Cedar Creek Park, a lovely place to hike or explore in the Laurel Highlands. Before you start, you can take a pleasant nature walk through Cedar Creek Gorge. On the GAP, head west toward friendly West Newton for a libation at a local distillery or brewery. Trail information and GAP merchandise are available at the visitors center in the reconstructed P&LE train station. While in West Newton, visit Simeral Square overlooking the Youghiogheny River, or tour the historic West Newton Cemetery.
Mountain Maryland Ride
From Cumberland to the Mason & Dixon Line, and back
41.0 total miles, Great Allegheny Passage
Start in beautiful Cumberland and head toward cool Frostburg, 15.5 miles into the mountains. It’s a slight and steady uphill grade with great views and a tight turn at Helmstetter’s Curve. If you like, the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad can haul you and your bike up from Cumberland to Frostburg and you can arrive in style without breaking a sweat. Either way, we recommend lunch in Frostburg, a college town with a thriving arts scene and historic main street. Afterward, rejoin the GAP and make the gentle climb to the Mason & Dixon Line, marked by a lovely commemorative park. Turn around for a 20.5-mile downhill cruise back to Cumberland.
Ride the Divide
From Meyersdale to the Big Savage Tunnel, and back
20.8 total miles, Great Allegheny Passage
This ride features the most spectacular structures on the GAP and a chance to cross the Eastern Continental Divide. Start with breakfast in Meyersdale, known for its maple syrup, and first head west to bike across the spectacular, 1,908-foot long, 101 feet high, Salisbury Viaduct that soars over the Casselman River. Turn around at the end of the viaduct and head back past your starting point. A few miles east of Meyersdale is the historic, relocated Bollman Bridge, the curving Keystone Viaduct, and seven small wooden bridges that cross over the meandering Flaugherty Creek. Just past the hamlet of Deal, Pa., the GAP reaches its high point at 2,392 feet above sea level. Go two more miles to pass through Big Savage Tunnel. Rest and take in the jaw-dropping vista (you can see into four states!) at the eastern end of the tunnel before you turn around and head back to Meyersdale.
From Homestead to McKeesport, and back
16.0 total miles, Great Allegheny Passage
Explore this paved section of the GAP and feel the energy of the region’s longtime steel manufacturing corridor. Start at The Waterfront in Homestead and head east, following the Monongahela River. Travel over the Whitaker Flyover, trace a former gas pipeline past Kennywood Amusement Park’s famous roller coasters, and head over the Port Perry Flyover. Travel past a pipe fabricator in Duquesne, near where General Edward Braddock was once routed by French and Native American opponents, then cross the Riverton Bridge for a look into McKeesport. Head back and enjoy any of the many dining options when you return.
John Brown’s Ride
From Shepherdstown to Harpers Ferry, and back
24.2 total miles, C&O Canal Towpath
Park across the Potomac River from Shepherdstown and head east for a scenic 12.1 mile pedal to historic Harpers Ferry. Carry your bicycle up the spiral staircase to cross the river into town. Explore the many historic buildings, museums and exhibits commemorating the Civil War. Ride back to Shepherdstown and enjoy dinner upon your return.
Four Locks Tour
From Williamsport to McCoys Ferry Campground, and back
22.0 total miles, C&O Canal Towpath
In Williamsport, park at the National Park Service Visitors Center at Cushwa Basin. Head west toward Dam 5, with its many interesting canal structures. Two miles further is the area known as Four Locks, built for the canal through Prathers Neck to eliminate a four mile bend in the river. Explore this historic area; you can even spend the night in a restored canal house. Have a snack at McCoy’s Ferry recreation area before turning around.
Fruit to Fort
Hancock to Fort Frederick State Park, and back
19.2 total miles, C&O Canal Towpath
Start in Hancock, once known as the fruit basket of the nation, because of the abundance of nearby orchards. Head east 9.6 miles to the beautifully restored fortress at Fort Frederick State Park, originally built during the French and Indian War. Take a walking tour before heading back, this time on the parallel, paved Western Maryland Rail Trail. Pies, produce and specialty foods make stopping for dinner in Hancock a must.
White’s Ferry to the Seneca Creek Aqueduct, and back
25.6 total miles, C&O Canal Towpath
Park on the Maryland side of White’s Ferry, once the site of a busy ferry service across the Potomac River. Head east to the Seneca Aqueduct and Riley’s Lock, the only place on the canal where a lock and aqueduct share a single structure. The famous Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall was built with red sandstone from the nearby quarry and transported by barge on the canal. A few hundred feet west of the aqueduct is a side trail to the ruins of the Seneca Quarry stone cutting mill. It’s worth the short walk to explore these fascinating remains.
Brunswick to the Monocacy Aqueduct, and back
25.6 total miles, C&O Canal Towpath
Start in Brunswick for lunch – the local favorite is spinach pie. Head east over the elliptical, three-arched Catoctin Creek Aqueduct and past Lockhouse 28 to the magnificent seven-arched Monocacy Aqueduct, recently restored by the National Park Service. It’s a 12.8 mile ride. On your way back, take a short side trip to Point of Rocks, Md., to see its well-preserved Victorian train station. Notice how close the canal and the railroad are, and understand how this area got its name. Head back to Brunswick for ice cream.