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 https://gaptrail.org/ . For additional planning resources, visit https://yockatomac.org .
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 ATAmail@gaptrail.org or call the Allegheny Trail Alliance office toll-free at 888-ATA-BIKE or from Amazon.com .
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 Cumberland MD, so if you’re looking
ahead to a vacation in 2008, you should find a complete trail between DC and McKeesport.
Starting to Think About the Trip: The Four Big Decisions
Trail Surface, Terrain, and Equipment
Logistics: Getting to the Trail and Home Again
Finding the Trailheads
Logistics: Local Transportation During the Trip
What to Take
Distances Between Major Trailheads
Mile by Mile place Names and Mile Post conversion
Directions for Road Detours around Trail Gaps
Resource for Planning
Outfitters and Shuttle Services
Restaurants and Grocery Stores
Trail Name Abbreviations
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 by people who have already made and enjoyed the trip.