Great Allegheny Passage Trail
Trail Length - 118 miles
From - Boston, PA to Ohiopyle, PA
Surface - packed limestone
This was our first Bike Packing trip, and it definitely won't be the last! This was a lot of fun. Some pain too, mainly because we both had sinus issues this trip, so breathing was a little more difficult. We gathered all of our gear, loaded up the bikes, and drove to the Boston, PA trailhead. Our gear included a bike trailer which held almost of our backpacking gear and a few luxury items since the load was being pulled instead of on our backs.
The Great Allegheny Passage, along with the C&O Canal Towpath, is two connecting "rail to trails" that go from Homestead, PA near Pittsburgh all the way to Washington DC. The majority of the trail is a packed crushed limestone surface with potholes here and there to dodge, so mountain bikes or hybrids are probably better, but we saw a lot of road bikes on the trail as well. The mileage for the one-way distance is 325 miles. Many people "Thru Bike" the trail each year.
We got going and started with a nice pace, knowing that our next stop was a restaurant that we had heard good things about. Our first break of the day was lunch at The Trailside Restaurant in West Newton, PA. They have some good food and they welcome bikers and it is literally steps from the trail. They even have an outside patio so we don't scare away the regulars. We spent almost an hour rejuvenating and replenishing, especially water. This heat was already taking a bit of a toll on us. The waitress was kind enough to bring us 4 pitchers of ice water so we could fill all of our water bottles. Needless to say, we tipped her well!
The trail has been almost level with minimal grade all the way to our first night camp at the River's Edge Campground near Connellsville, PA. This was a nice campground with all of the amenities that we needed. And we found out from the campground office that there is a Chinese Restaurant who will deliver so we said "what the heck". We bought way too much food, and then went to bed in our tent. Thankfully there was a nice breeze so the heat didn't interfere with our sleep too much.
We woke up the next morning and got started
coffee, pancakes and bacon. That was a very good start
to the day! Our goal the next day was to basically just play it by ear.
We knew we were going to spend another night at this campground, so we
rode towards Ohiopyle and let pain and/or time to dictate when we turned
back around. As it turns out that's exactly how far we decided to go,
but the decision wasn't entirely ours. About 5 miles from Ohiopyle, Mike
got a slow leak in one of his tires. Instead of changing the tube, we
just wanted to get enough air into it to make to town, so we took turns
pumping air into it. We rode into Ohiopyle and found a bike shop at Wilderness
Voyageurs across the bridge over the Youghiogheny River. We had tubes
and a pump and everything, but Mike didn't like the way our pump worked,
so we bought a new pump. Mike changed the tube, and then we decided to
go find a cold drink somewhere.
We found a run-down looking tavern, but we decided to take a chance and check them out. The bartender was real nice, and we were the only people in the place. We wet our whistles with a drink each while we discussed the plans. Jodi wanted ice cream. That was the plan. We asked where the nearest ice cream shop was, and got on our bikes. That ice cream really hit the spot on the hot summer day. We then refilled all of our water bottles for the return trip to the campground. We were both pretty hot and tired by the time we finished the ride today. Our bike computer said that we rode 45 miles today. That's the most we have done in a day to date. We both took showers and relaxed around camp until it was time to cook dinner.
The next day we only had just over 36 miles back to the trailhead, so we took our time breaking down camp this morning. Everything was covered in dew, so we let the sun dry things out before packing up. We were both feeling a little better today finally. Our sinuses were terrible the last couple of days. Our entire bodies were pretty sore though, this was the most riding we have ever done in back to back (to back) days.
This is an awesome trail and we highly recommend it. There are sections of the trail that are quite isolated, but sooner or later you will come to another "trail town". Each of these trail towns have trailheads and access to many trail amenities including access to water, bathrooms, snacks and restaurants, lodging, bike shops, and more. You need to be prepared and self-sufficient, but help isn't that far away most of the time.
The trail can get quite busy with mostly bikers but also some hikers. Equestrian riders are also allowed on certain sections of the trail, so be aware of that. Check out the following websites for information on these trails.