Riding The GAP: Rockwood To Cumberland

Achievement: #75. Great Allegheny Passage Bike Trail

Day 3 on the GAP was definitely the easiest ride of the week, but also one of the most exciting. There were more interesting photo ops on this stretch than anywhere else, and we lucked out with the best weather of our trip on this day as well.

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
We departed Rockwood as early as we could (waited a little bit for the fog to lift, which was worth it so we could enjoy the lovely foliage).

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
It was chilly, but gorgeous. This was one of those days on the bike when layering was essential, because once it warmed up, you could really feel the sun.

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
Bear was SUPER excited to not have to be in his bearbag on Tuesday. He even offered to hold my Capri Sun for me.

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
We stopped to enjoy said Capri Sun at the trail marker in Garrett.

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
Garrett isn’t too far from Rockwood, but there is a little town nearby if you need to stop for snacks, or even a night’s stay (there’s a B&B there).

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
Setting out immediately from Rockwood, you’re still moving uphill for the most part. There are a few stretches of level ground, but overall, it’s a net incline straight to the Continental Divide.

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
Somerset County is just GORGEOUS in the fall – lots of lovely farmland, and the fall colors are just unmatched.

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
One of the most beautiful views on this stretch of trail? The Salisbury Viaduct!

I admit, I was panicking about having to ride over this thing, but it’s beautiful and strong, and even though there was a decent wind while we were riding, you couldn’t feel it on the viaduct.

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
Everywhere you turn on the viaduct, it’s just beautiful.

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
Cows!

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
Cornfields!

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
Really excited bears having a total blast!

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
AND TONS OF REALLY CREEPY WINDMILLS, MY FAVORITE!!

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
Shortly after departing the viaduct, you arrive in Meyersdale, the Maple City. At the top of Meyersdale is the visitors’ center with a small museum inside, but to reach the town, you need to go off the trail and down a hill.

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
We didn’t make our way into town on this trip, since it was a ways off the trail (and seriously, the only thing worse than riding uphill for a day and a half was the thought of riding downhill to lunch and having to ride up a really steep road to get back to going uphill), but we did check out some of the sights at the visitors’ center, including this old C&O caboose.

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
The trail next goes over a series of old bridges, including the recently-refurbished Keystone Viaduct. This was another great spot to stop and take photos, as you go over some lovely streams and creeks.

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
And after a short Gu break in Deal, we were off to the final stretch of uphill, which brought us to the Eastern Continental Divide. The divide marks a point where the watersheds separate: on one side, all water flows to the Atlantic Ocean, and on the other, all water flows ultimately to the Gulf of Mexico.

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
And also, the Eastern Continental Divide marks the end of the uphill portion of the GAP Trail, moving west to east. If you’re wondering why we were grouchy coming up to the Divide, here’s your answer. And if you’re wondering ‘should I bike the GAP west to east or east to west?’ this graphic will help you make your choice as well.

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
This next stretch of trail also features the first tunnels of the trip, with the Big Savage Tunnel. While it’s creepy looking, it’s lit throughout, and still downhill, so you can fly through it and you don’t really *need* a bike lamp.


But if you have one, you can throw a bike lamp rave.

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
Or you can just take photos and refuse to look at them until much, much later in case your camera accidentally picked up some ghosts and aliens.


And should you survive the aliens and ghosts, you are greeted with this view upon exiting the tunnel.

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
Bears love it.

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
Just a handful of miles past the tunnel is another exciting landmark: the Mason Dixon Line! Right there, in the middle of the woods.

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
Here’s Bear, half in the north and half in the south!

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
By this point, we were starving, so we decided to stop in the next trail town, which is Frostburg. And since it’s labeled as a trail town, we thought, oh, this must be a trail town.

And it is. I mean, technically. But it’s a trail town LIKE 900 MILES ABOVE THE TRAIL.

You have to take a series of switchbacks. And then you have to either park your bike and climb a staircase and hope for the best, OR ride up THE STEEPEST STREET IN ALL OF MARYLAND to get to food. And once you get to food… MOST OF THE OPTIONS ARE UPHILL.

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
This is how Michael felt about the Frostburg experience.

(To be fair, the sushi we had – which we’ll detail in a separate post – was AMAZING and just right and totally worth the hike, but DAMN were we hunger-angry prior to the meal!)

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
Frostburg is also the place where you can, if you don’t want to coast downhill for 20-some miles, catch a sightseeing train into Cumberland. Apparently, you can watch the train turn around on this little platform at the end of the tracks, but to me, this looked like a terrifying busted-up ride at Kennywood from my nightmares.

Pro-tips: the train only runs once a day most days (and some days not at all), leaving Cumberland at 11:30am and returning by 3pm. You can check out the schedule at their website if you’re interested. I imagine this would be much more useful if you were coming east-to-west, as it would save you the long, steeply uphill portion of the ride. You could also do it as a single-afternoon trip if you were staying in Cumberland, which would allow you some scenic views and a chance to stop for lunch in Frostburg.

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
We opted to stay on our bikes the whole ride, which was perfect. You literally coast from the Divide into Cumberland (if you don’t stop and hike up to Frostburg’s business district, that is). The trail runs right next to the railroad tracks, and aside from a few times when you have to cross the tracks to pick up the trail on the other side, you almost never have to pedal (just uhh, make sure your brakes are in fine condition). It was a blast, and the perfect rest your legs need after the 60+ miles of uphill.

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
And at last, after 45ish miles, you arrive at the terminus of the Great Allegheny Passage in Cumberland!!

GRATUITOUS ‘YEAH WE MADE IT’ PHOTO TIME!!!!!!!

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
WOOOOOOO WE MADE IT TO CUMBERLAND!!!

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
HOORAY HERE WE ARE WE DID IT THIS IS ALMOST AS GOOD AS EATING CHURROS!!!!

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
I RODE 153 MILES IN A BASKET JUST TO RIDE THIS CANAL MULE!!!!!

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
The GAP connects seamlessly with the next bit of the trail to DC, the C&O Towpath, but we recommend taking a night in Cumberland to relax, unwind, do some laundry, rest those muscles, grab some delicious dinner, and post pictures to social media about your adventure.

GAP Day 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland
Oh, and perhaps enjoy that bottle of bicycle wine you brought all the way from California for this very evening. That too. Because at the end of the GAP, you’ve earned that all, cyclist!

2 Comments

Filed under #75, #75-13, bike riding, bridges, exercise, fall foliage, GAP trail, outside, trains, travel, wine

2 Responses to Riding The GAP: Rockwood To Cumberland

  1. Woubbie

    Woohoo!

    Myersdale – went to their Maple Festival about a lifetime ago when I was even younger than you!

    What an awesome trip! And I’m SO happy you got to let Pooh out of the bag. That one picture of him reminded me horribly of James Coburn’s awful fate in the movie Charade. Yurghhhhh!

    • steelcityfox

      Lol don’t worry about Bear – his bearbag is full of bear-oxygen, which is made of porridge and ‘hunny’ 🙂 We saw signs about the maple festival – perhaps an Achievement for 2014? 🙂

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