Tuesday, August 4, 2015


With promising weather and some free time I made a last minute decision to ride the GAP.  I purchased the Trailbook in advance which gives you valuable information and history about the trail along with a separate vinyl map. It is worth $16 with shipping.  The logistics and being a linear route has made it difficult to ride the entire 150 mile trail so I decided to do an out and back from Cumberland, Md. I arrived at the Ramada Inn around dinner time on Saturday leaving me time to explore this quaint town.  The trail head provides free overnight parking and after a bountiful complimentary breakfast I was on my way at 7:30 on Sunday.  The first 24 miles is uphill to the Eastern Continental Divide and then a gradual downhill to Pittsburgh. It was a constant grind to the top and took me a little over 4 hours. There was just a few scenic overlooks but for the most part it was like riding the never ending Pennsylvania Turnpike. Crossing the Mason-Dixon Line and riding through the 3300 ft Big Savage Tunnel was a treat but reaching the Eastern Continental Divide was a relief. There is a map on the wall showing mileage and elevation.

Nice room at the Ramada
Ready to go

Only 20 more miles of climbing

Mason Dixon Line

Big Savage Tunnel

The top, relief!

 My plan was to stay at The Husky Haven Campground in Rockwood just 43 miles from the start. It was a  relatively easy 20 mile pedal to the campground but remember this is hard packed gravel which is not always so packed. Having 3 tracks of a trike makes things more challenging at times. I arrived about 2:30 with mixed feelings. It was $10 to camp but I was offered an entire house for just $50 so I took it. Unfortunately it's a tinny town with few services and being Sunday in Pa didn't help.
My stay at Rockwood
I originally planned to pedal 50 miles the next day to one of the free shelters at mile 90 but the thought of pedaling back uphill, over the same terrain was not appealing. I decided in the morning to just pedal back to Cumberland. I must point out I have never been a fan of bike trails, especially non-paved. They are fine for people who want to pedal car-free but I find them boring.
The ride back was an easier uphill but it was still uphill for 20 miles. I always wanted to know how it felt pedaling 24 miles down hill. Being on packed gravel slowed the decent and with light pedaling I was only able to manage 15 mph, still, very nice. After breaking down the trike and a quick chicken sandwich I was off for the 4 hour trek home.

The trail has some interesting sites including long tunnels, high trestles, winding rivers, wildlife, quaint towns and history. It is well managed and maintained and is a great asset to the cycling community. There are many trail heads in the middle with parking that have a much smaller grade variant for easier out and backs. There are many B&B and Hostels if you choose not to camp. For me I would have enjoyed it more had I started in Cumberland and finished the 150 mile trek in Pittsburgh, but that would have required an expensive shuttle and more planning. The C&O Canal and GAP were on my "Bucket List" but being a trike only guy the C&O is out and as far as the GAP I can cross that off with just what little I've done.

Enjoy the photos.

Notice the windmills

That little boy passed me uphill on his single speed BMX

Meyersdale bike repair station

Ride down into Cumberland