This middle 47 mile stretch of the 135 mile Great Allegheny Passage trail follows a route originally used by Native Americans, next... more » by colonists, and then the Western Maryland Railroad. Now it is a stunning trail following the watersheds of the Youghiogheny, Casselman, and Monongahela Rivers. The Great Allegheny Passage can easily be linked to the C & O Canal Towpath trail for a 300 mile bike ride or hike. The two trails run all the way from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington D.C.
The trail passes near or through the towns of Connellsville, Ohiopyle, Confluence, and Rockwood. In between these quaint Pennsylvania towns you will find miles and miles of forests, riparian ecosystems, and stunning vistas. None are more beautiful than the grand views that can be observed on the expansive trail bridges such as the Pinkerton High Bridge.
If you enjoy visiting the trail to escape the crowds, this section of the GAP is by far the least traveled and offers the most solitude. This certainly is not due to a lack of beautiful natural and man-made attractions. Instead, it's a result of location.
1. The first & third sections of the GAP include Pittsburgh and Cumberland, respectively. These are both major or fairly major population centers.
2. Section #3 of the trail includes the Eastern Continental Divide. It is one of the major draws for this trail due to its views, fall colors, and bragging rights.
3. Because of the rough terrain and small towns, this area doesn't have as many residents or tourists.
On weekdays especially, you will feel as if you are in a vast wilderness, much like the eastern seaboard used to be over 300 years ago. You can almost hear the Native American hunters seeking their prey, the colonial surveyors preparing the first American roads & railroads, and the early mountain men heading west to explore this great country before it was even a country.
The GAP trail can be used by bicyclists, recumbent riders, trail runners, hikers, and backpackers; in addition, portions of the trail can also be enjoyed by equestrians. According to the ATATrail website, "Horses are permitted only on the grassy areas between Boston & Connellsville; Rockwood & Garrett; Frostburg & State Line."
No matter how you decide to navigate the Great Allegheny Passage trail, you will cherish the time you spend on the trail for the rest of your life.