Technically my title is wrong. It should take about 75 miles to get from one destination to the other, but I’m including the extra to account for the necessary back and forth trip we biked from Cedar Creek campsite to an evening brew at the Trailside Restaurant and Pub Saturday night. The trip between Ohiopyle and Pittsburgh began earlier for my brother who took off from Pittsburgh Thursday morning on the Great Allegheny Passage – GAP trail. He made it to Ohiopyle Friday and Phil and I joined him for the return trip. We biked a longer trip last year and decided to shorten the mileage per day in order to incorporate more sight-seeing along the way. Connellsville was hosting a river-side arts festival, breakfast at Gary’s Chuck Wagon Restaurant surprised us with great coffee and dense donuts, and at the terminus Point Park in Pittsburgh we were greeted by a fantastic thunderstorm!
It’s been a wet June. We were more fortunate on the return trip to find an underpass, or to be sleeping beneath a lean-to when storms crossed the trial. Beginning in Ohiopyle Saturday morning was bright and sunny. Outdoor adventurists were crawling over the rock studded river sides, cyclists were gazing to the cascading falls from the bridges, and we were partaking in the breakfast bar at Falls Market and Restaurant. After scampering along the water’s edge ourselves we hit the trail and took the scenic ‘GAP’ bridge over the river. We followed the Youghiogheny River as it wove at a downward grade through the tulip forest. Ferns feathered the hillside as brush beneath the many single-filed tree trunks. Waterfalls generously poured into the thickening river, turning over stair-stepped banks of rock. We were shaded, the trail muddier than usual, and we could hear a few raindrops falling late from the previous night’s storm. From Mile 70, to 80, to 90, we rode mostly in quick conversations side by side at 13 mph. Then, at other times, in the pure silence of nature rushing by.
GAP Trail Maps
We set-up camp at Cedar Creek for free. With a hikers hut and restrooms available we were set for the night. Sharing the campsite with only four other campers made for a very peaceful evening. Well, that’s what we thought until we had a rude awakening.
Storms rolled around us through the night, but that was nothing compared to the sound of the train! Three or more times a thumping, screeching, rambling distraction made noise like we were about to be run over. This was the music of progress I suppose, the only sound cutting through the crickets and raindrops in an otherwise secluded (feeling) place.
As I mentioned earlier, before turning in we biked to the Trailside Restaurant and Pub in West Newton, PA. We enjoyed fresh food and bottled beer along with another small rain storm. The Pirates were playing and the mood on the deck porch was easy-going.
We woke up as well as we could and biked the four miles back into West Newton where we found coffee at Gary’s Chuckwagon restaurant. The placed filled up as Sunday service concluded and as we left. We were only thirty miles out of downtown Pittsburgh.
The map below is a piece of what can be found on the GAP website. It details the places along the trail for bikers and hikers alike to enjoy between Greenock and Pittsburgh, PA. We were in luck pulling into little Boston that a bike shop / kayak and canoe rental had WD-40 to help with my brothers’ squeaking bike chain. They were really helpful and I told the man there that I’d blog about his shop. The place is called Ted’s Peddler’s Village, and the brochure is here:
~Trail side rentals near Boston PA aerial below~
We felt so close to Pittsburgh, but drove through the pathways around McKeesport, up and over the bridges crossing railway tracks near Duquesne, and into Homestead for quite a few more miles.
The trail at Homestead is a very nice trail running between the river and new development. The path alone made me want to live there. The iron fencing running for miles would make iron workers drool. The Three Rivers Heritage Trail criss-crosses the GAP here, and offers bikers another reason to bike in Pittsburgh. The GAP leads to the rear side of Kennywood and skims the side of Sandcastle Water park, teasing hot cyclists as we drive on to finish our ride. And, finish our ride we did, just before the thunder show. We rode through the raindrops and circled the Point. We stopped quickly for pictures before the fountain and found cover beneath the concrete shell overpass at the point with many others as the storm passed.
A good ride, good company, and a great accomplishment achieving 85 miles feels good for a weekend!