Birding · Cave · Commonly Backpacked · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Open dawn to dusk. The Big Savage Tunnel is closed for the winter, late November to early April.
Need to Know
The Great Allegheny Passage connects to the C&O Canal Towpath in Cumberland, Md., making a thru-hike to Washington D.C. a wonderful 10 day adventure.
Water is available at some but not all campgrounds. The best practice is to carry your own. Additionally, cell service is spotty in some locations, so alert a friend about your intended route if you're running alone.
The Great Allegheny Passage soars over valleys, snakes around mountains, and skirts alongside three rolling rivers on its nearly level path from Cumberland to Pittsburgh. Runners pass through the Cumberland Narrows, cross the Mason-Dixon Line, top the Eastern Continental Divide, wind their way through Pennsylvania’s breathtaking Laurel Highlands, journey through the region’s coke, coal, mining, and steel-making corridor, and end at Pittsburgh’s majestic Point State Park. Stunning views of waterfalls, gorges, river valleys, and farmland are everywhere, especially from outside the Big Savage Tunnel, from the sweeping Salisbury Viaduct, at both ends of the Pinkerton Tunnel, and via the Ohiopyle High and Low Bridges. Travelers overlook the joining of rivers at Confluence, McKeesport, and Pittsburgh, and can explore adjoining peninsulas, state parks, hollows, wildflower stands, and forests on foot at many places along the trail.
Along its corridor, the Great Allegheny Passage features a delightful chain of trail towns connecting travelers with everything they need for a day trip or multi-day adventure. Local flavors abound at restaurants, bars and grills, creameries, and cafés. Along the trail, overnight accommodations range from lovely bed-and-breakfasts to comfortable guest houses, and from campgrounds to hotels. Outfitters and bike shops have a range of gear available. Travelers enjoy art galleries, stately town squares, boutique museums, renovated train stations, holiday parades, craft breweries, and historical sites. Festivals and celebrations take place throughout the seasons. Once connected by railroads, and now by the trail, our towns are destinations to explore, provide fuel for your journey, and give welcome respite every few miles.
With a crushed limestone (or in some sections, paved) surface, and a gentle, nearly-flat grade, the Great Allegheny Passage is a perfect path for families. There are plenty of free parking spaces at trailheads, standard wayfinding signage, and mile markers to guide your outing, and all kinds of places to treat your family to lunch or ice cream in trail towns. Families seeking an overnight adventure on the trail can pitch a tent at one of several hiker-biker campgrounds. Moreover, families with older kids can arrange an unforgettable multi-day trek; some choose to haul their own gear, others hire a shuttle service for backpacks and take advantage of local lodging options, and some make a return trip via Amtrak.
Flora & Fauna
Wildflowers abound from May through September, and while occasionally you'll see a reclusive black bear, most animals are familiar forest creatures—songbirds, raptors, grouse, squirrels, and deer. The forest canopy through Ohiopyle State Park is magnificent, and rhododendron and mountain laurel mark the upper elevations. The GAP intersects Ferncliff Peninsula National Natural Area, the 70-mile Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, the gorge trail at Cedar Creek Park, and Dead Man's Hollow, part of the Allegheny Land Trust.
Shared By: Bryan Perry