Cycling the Great Allegheny Passage

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Mist rising from the waterfall shimmers in the late afternoon sunbeams that cut through the forest. As I look up at the ravine wall we’ve descended to stand next to this beauty, I’m reasonably sure that we can climb out, and in any event, I decide it was worth it. For the past few months, all of the waterfalls we’ve encountered have been encased in ice. Unleashed by spring, water travels unencumbered here on the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP), and so do we. Throughout our journey, we’ve occasionally been joined by bunnies that hop along the trail with us. More than once we’ve found ourselves involved in a friendly race with a butterfly, and we’ve discovered that waterfalls like this one, strengthened by spring runoff, are almost commonplace. With trail towns along the way offering good food and rest for the weary, we understand now why this trip is often referred to as the “ride of your life.”

Just a few days ago, my two teenage sons and I loaded our bikes and bare essentials in the car and left our snow-packed yard to embark on this trip we’ve been planning since the days were short. We looked for a scenic rail trail of considerable mileage in an area that would be warm in mid-April, and within reasonable driving distance from our home. A bit of research on Adventure Cycling’s tours and routes led us to the GAP, a 150-mile rail trail that winds along rivers and through mountain passes from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Cumberland, Maryland. We looked up the average temperature for the region in April and found that it was 61 degrees. We were sold. Halfway into our journey, standing next to the falls, we’re fully immersed in spring and exceedingly happy with our trail choice.  Continue reading on



photo credit: John Urman

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