GAP Ride Part 3
After much anticipation, the day to bike the final portion of the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail had arrived. We (Trail Town Outreach Corps) started our 46 mile journey in Rockwood, PA with the goal to bike to the GAP’s mile marker 0, in Cumberland, MD. Stamina, cooler temperatures, and a nice downhill grade near the Eastern Continental Divide gave us the extra boost of confidence we needed to conquer the rest of the trail.
Overall, the ride from Rockwood to Cumberland was a completely new experience compared to the sections from the Waterfront to Connellsville. Much of this ride offered a taste of many different settings, landscapes, and ecosystems. Lush forests, farmland, and rolling hills accompanied us for much of this portion of the ride. The scenery was breathtaking at parts, especially once we pedaled on past Frostburg, closer to Cumberland. Not only was the natural landscape one-of-a-kind but so to were the bridges and tunnels we encountered throughout our journey.
The first landmark of the day was the Salisbury Viaduct, only a few miles away from Garrett and Meyersdale. I had always heard trail users mention this bridge, but I never truly understood why it was such a popular trail destination until I experienced it first-hand. There are other bridges along the GAP but I personally think that biking across the Salisbury Viaduct is a very unique experience that I now suggest to any trail user. Another popular spot on the trail is the Eastern Continental Divide tunnel. Cyclists often hang out underneath the tunnel to take a quick break, looking forward to the much anticipated downgrade that remains for the rest of the ride to Cumberland. A map on the wall of the tunnel charting the elevation gain along the trail is a really cool visual that allows cyclists to better understand the distance and grade that they have traveled. Another cool hot spot along the GAP is the Big Savage Tunnel, famous for its lengthy passage underground. It was yet again, a unique experience that can be challenging when in need of a bike headlight. My recommendation to anyone biking the GAP is to bring a headlight for your bicycle; that way you are not only prepared for any given situation but alsoso that you are equipped to bike through the tunnel.
The constantly changing landscape seemed to stimulate our senses, making the bike ride seem a lot shorter than 46 miles. Once we arrived to Frostburg, we took a quick break, only to bike to Cumberland for an additional 14 miles. The trail in Maryland offered a panoramic view of mountains and hills, both distant and close. The trail opened up, trees grew sparser, making it seem like we were biking around the mountain, gradually losing elevation as we moved closer to our destination.
All three days of our biking adventure on the GAP were much enjoyed. Changing landscapes, wildlife run-ins, and comfortable weather all made for a fresh and exciting bike ride. I highly recommend this trail to anyone who is an avid cyclist.