Early yesterday morning, we embarked upon one of our most ambitions vacations ever. (Yes, even more than fitting 3 cases of wine on a plane from CA to the ‘Burgh.) We hopped on our bikes and started the 334-mile journey from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC.
Yep. Six days, 334 miles. All on our bikes.
It’s our goal to update every night when we get to our destination town, but even that is proving to be a little tricky because we’re taking so many pictures (about 100 pictures each day so far). So, we’ve decided to divide up the days’ posts: each evening, we’ll post the trail pics, and then at the end, we’ll do a wrap up post of places to stay and eat along the trail if you decide to embark upon this trail yourself!
(Warning: a LOT of pictures ahead!)
Here we are, just moments before embarking on the trip. Coming from the Point, you ride up through the city (the first stretch is shared sidewalk with pedestrians), and then you move onto the Eliza Furnace Trail (better known as the Jail Trail, as it goes right alongside the Allegheny County Jail).
The final piece of the trail to be completed was the stretch near Sandcastle Water Park, which connects the Homestead portion of the trail to the South Side. Boy is it tempting to just hop the fence and go on some slides on a hot day on your bike!
Arriving in Homestead, you can see the old Carrie Furnace across the river from the Pump House (which is a good starting point to get on the trail for a short ride – there’s a parking lot here that you can access easily).
Also a great view of a railroad bridge that’s still in use! The GAP Trail intersects with railroad tracks many times, functioning or not, and stretches of it are on former tracks (part of the Rails to Trails Conservancy).
After leaving McKeesport, you have two options: the regular GAP Trail path, or the ‘loop.’ The loop is a little easier terrain-wise, but it’s not as scenic (goes by some factories and the backs of houses). The GAP path goes up through Dead Man’s Hollow, which is the first patch of tough riding you encounter.
This is the sign that means you’re about to eat lunch. YAY! West Newton is a full trail town with several food options, including our favorite, The Trailside. (More info on the Trailside will be coming in a later post.)
The next major attraction moving east from West Newton is Cedar Creek Park. There is camping and boating here, as long as you have tents, or in the case of RVs they must have a brake controller for safety sake. These camping grounds are found as you travel alongside the Youghiogheny River.
Finally, after a very LONG stretch of 12 miles with no sign of civilization, we turned a corner and wound up here: Connellsville!! It’s a nice downhill slope right into the town, and that was much appreciated as well.
At the end of Day 1, we had traveled 60 miles, covering over 6 hours of riding time. Thankfully, there was a great dinner at the Italian Oven and a soft bed at the Connellsville B&B waiting for us. One day down, five more to go!