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Linking Up
Planning Your Traffic-free Bicycle Trip
between Pittsburgh PA and Washington DC

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Introduction

So you’re thinking about a bike ride between Pittsburgh PA and Washington DC, and you don’t want to ride in traffic? That’s great! The C&O Canal Towpath has long been a favorite route, especially nice for bicycle camping. Now that the Towpath is connected Pittsburgh PA via the rail-trails of the Great Allegheny Passage, the route is even better.

We begin with answers to the questions that people most often ask when they start to think about the trip, followed by suggestions about things to plan for and ideas about itineraries. At the end, we list services and amenities you may find helpful and give a table of distances between towns. With few exceptions, we include all the services we know about (mid 2007) that are within reasonable cycling distance of the trail. If you have a support car you can range farther afield, but other guides provide better coverage of those larger areas than we can possibly hope to.

For up-to-date information on services and facilities along the trail, check the Allegheny Trail Alliance web site at http://www.ATATrail.org external%20link. For additional planning resources, visit http://www.yockatomac.org external link.

Slice of topo map as visual seperator

To help you plan the classic trip between Pittsburgh and Washington -- or a shorter trip along this route -- we have brought together information that will help you plan your trip. These web pages are drawn from the book Linking Up: Planning Your Traffic-Free Bike Trip between Pittsburgh PA and Washington DC. You can order the book from us using the order form or from Amazon.com external link

The Great Allegheny Passage

The Great Allegheny Passage links Cumberland MD to Pittsburgh PA on rail-trails, with a spur to the Pittsburgh Airport via the Montour Trail. Several trail groups develop and maintain sections of the Passage: Allegheny Highlands Trail in Maryland, Somerset County Rails to Trails Association, Regional Trail Corporation, Steel Valley Trail Council, Friends of the Riverfront, and Montour Trail.

Recent trail construction has completed the Great Allegheny Passage between Washington DC and Homstead, PA (6 miles from Pittsburgh), so if you’re looking ahead to a vacation in 2012, you should find a complete trail between DC and Homestead.
 

 

Frequently Asked Questions
Starting to Think About the Trip: The Four Big Decisions
Planning Checklist
Trail Surface, Terrain, and Equipment
Logistics: Getting to the Trail and Home Again
Finding the Trailheads
Logistics: Local Transportation During the Trip
Preparation
What to Take
Distances Between Major Trailheads
Mile by Mile place Names and Mile Post conversion
Sample Itineraries
Shorter Trips
Directions for Road Detours around Trail Gaps
Detailed Status of the 9 mile gap

Resource for Planning
Outfitters and Shuttle Services
Bike Shops
Restaurants and Grocery Stores
Camping
Indoor Lodging
Trail Name Abbreviations

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For information on food, bike shops, camping, and indoor lodging on the ATA trails between Pittsburgh and Cumberland, see the list of amenities associated with the trail maps. For the C & O Canal, see the overview map.

You may also draw inspiration from trip reports external link by people who have already made and enjoyed the trip.

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You are visiting Linking Up, copyright © 1999,2002,2007 by Mary Shaw and Roy Weil. We encourage you to link to these pages or print copies for personal use. However, if you want to copy the material for any other use, you must ask us first. The contents of these web pages is also available in a book. See other outdoor publications by the authors. Page last updated October 16, 2007