Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Trails

Thread Starter

spinnaker

Joined Oct 29, 2009
7,835
My post here:

https://forum.allaboutcircuits.com/threads/hows-the-weather.106497/page-75#post-1099467

Made me think of summer and a gem I have right in my backyard. The shot is of the Montour Trail. The Montour Trail is literally right at the bottom of the hill in my backyard, though I would need to cut through my neighbors property to get there. :)

The Montour is our small gem. It is a has its own beauty. It boasts 3 tunnels. The surface is a packed crushed limestone and very rideable for most bicycles.



Countless small bridges and streams. It also has the impressive McDonald Trestle.

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A nice feature of the Montour is that you can start right from the Pittsburgh International Airport and jump on a spur of the Montour to get to the main trail. It is basically a collection of service roads but it is rare that you will see any vehicles on the road. The airport is a great place to drop the rental car for those driving to the area.

The trail has 2 campsites. One very near the airport for late arrivals.

The trail extends 46 miles from Coraopolis (not far from my home) to Mckeesport. Except for the last 10 miles or so, you never touch a road and except for 3 road crossings very close to my house. The local group that cares for the trail has done an excellent job bridging across roads and it gets better all of the time.

In addition to the Montour, you have the option to ride from Pittsburgh to the trail on a paved surface to get to the Great Allegheny Passage.

The two routes merge at the Great Allegheny Passage near Mckeesport, PA. The GAP extends 150 miles to Cumberland. Like the Montour the trail is crushed limestone. The trail has lots of camping. Countless streams and small bridges. And the Salisbury Viaduct

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The highlight of the trail is OhioPyle Falls.

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The shot you see is a rare occurrence. They only allow passage over the falls once a year.



After 150 mile the trail terminates in Cumberland. If you arrive on the weekend you might be lucky enough to see this amazing feat of engineering.

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The Great Allegheny Passage is about 150 miles long. Again all with barely touching a road. The GAP is actually better than the Montour where the GAP only crosses a few very minor roads.

Cumberland is the start of the C&O bike trail which extends 184 miles from Cumberland. MD to Washington, DC. The C&O is not nearly as pretty as the GAP. Plus the riding surface is not so friendly. If it rains (at it almost always does) the surface will be muddy. 32 mm wide tires minimum for this trail.

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The trail has the Paw Paw Tunnel. A tunnel with a canal going though it, pretty amazing.

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Hard to tell from this photo but the grass on the right is the path that goes through the tunnel.


At Great Falls things start to get really amazing.

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Only a few miles from DC and so much wildlife it is amazing.

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The Montour and GAP where old rail lines converted to bike trails. The C&O was a canal towpath converted to a bike trail All built before computers or satellite imaging. Pretty amazing when you think about the fact that the GAP cross the Appalachian Mountains.

So here is the tally

Monour Trail 46 miles
GAP 150 miles
C&O 184 miles

That is 380 miles of bike trail that I can ride from my home to Washington, DC and rarely see an automobile.

If you ever had the the desire to try touring, this is a great place to start. We get people from all over the world that ride this trail. I had a couple from Germany staying with me after their round the world tour. They wanted to end their tour by riding the GAP to DC. On one of my trips, I meet a group from Hawaii that came here to ride. If you ever wanted to give it a try, let me know and I would be happy to help.
 

ErnieM

Joined Apr 24, 2011
8,337
The time of the great canal era is oft forgotten so some incredible works of civil engineering get lost. My grandfather lived in upstate NY near the Delaware river and we would sometimes take a very old suspension bridge across the river.

Well it seems that bridge was one of Roeblings (of Brooklyn Bridge fame)earlier works and was made to carry a canal above the river.

Water over water.... Boggles my mind.
 

tcmtech

Joined Nov 4, 2013
2,867
I always enjoy seeing this sort of old historical stuff. It always amazes me how nature reintegrates it into itself to where it looks like it just belong there. (contrary to what environmental protectionist seem to think and say.) :cool:

We don't have much of that sort of historical stuff in my area. Up until about 100 - 120 years ago most everything here was native prairie so at best all have for historical account is some old wagon trails, homesteaders dugouts, and collapsed coal mine entrances to look at. :(

I did come across what I believe to be the remnants of a old homesteaders sod house last summer though when we acquired permission to hay a coulee a few miles away from here. :cool:
 

Thread Starter

spinnaker

Joined Oct 29, 2009
7,835
The time of the great canal era is oft forgotten so some incredible works of civil engineering get lost. My grandfather lived in upstate NY near the Delaware river and we would sometimes take a very old suspension bridge across the river.

Well it seems that bridge was one of Roeblings (of Brooklyn Bridge fame)earlier works and was made to carry a canal above the river.

Water over water.... Boggles my mind.

Incredible amount of history along both trails. The Paw Paw alone has a rich history. Some of it tragic as a number of men died in its construction.

My favorite story of the Paw Paw is about two barge captains that hated one another. The tunnel was one way. When a barge entered from one end, a boy was sent to the other end to hang a lantern. It was s signal for any barges not to enter because there was a barge in the tunnel. Well one day something went wrong and the lantern did not get hung. Two barges entered at the same time , captained by the men that hated one another. Both stubborn as the mules pulling their barges they both refused to back out. They were in the tunnel for three days until the tunnel operator got fed up, went to the upwind side of the tunnel and built a smoky fire. ;)
 
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ErnieM

Joined Apr 24, 2011
8,337
I grew up in the house I own here on Long Island NY. Got some historic sights here as this is one of the first areas settled in the US. From where my house sits if you go one block north you find the right of way for a railroad pulled up in the 30's, go the other way the same and there is the right of way for the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, the first limited access highway, privately funded and built. It was a toll road and even had an EZ pass badge to use. Some of the highway still is in use, some is in ruins, some only marked by weird property boundaries.

I played on both back when I was a kid.
 

Thread Starter

spinnaker

Joined Oct 29, 2009
7,835
I grew up in the house I own here on Long Island NY. Got some historic sights here as this is one of the first areas settled in the US. From where my house sits if you go one block north you find the right of way for a railroad pulled up in the 30's, go the other way the same and there is the right of way for the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, the first limited access highway, privately funded and built. It was a toll road and even had an EZ pass badge to use. Some of the highway still is in use, some is in ruins, some only marked by weird property boundaries.

I played on both back when I was a kid.

Long Island has some great diners. HUGE portions. At least it did back 30 years ago. Still the same?

How far from Amityville are you? I remember driving by the house, it was right after the movie came out.
 
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