By Kathy Berdan for St. Paul Pioneer Press
If you’ve never heard of the Great Allegheny Passage, you’re not alone. I hadn’t until my childhood friend Ellen told me that a bicycle trip from her home in Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., on the trail was on her bucket list.
A good friend. A bucket-list worthy adventure. A bike trip? Sign me up.
Besides, the Great Allegheny Passage has a lovely, rugged, historic sort of name.
The GAP, as it’s called, is a 150-mile hard-pack dirt/crushed limestone trail on an old railroad line. (That means that although it travels through mountains and hillsides, there’s nothing steeper than what a train engine could handle.) It starts at Point State Park in downtown Pittsburgh and ends in Cumberland, Md. From there it’s 180 miles on the C&O Canal Towpath to D.C.
Of course, this epic two-wheeled adventure needed a crew. Marianne (another elementary school chum from Fairfax, Minn. — Go, Golden Eagles!), Carla (a friend of Ellen’s from Pittsburgh), and Lynn (a biking pal of mine from D.C.) filled out the group. And, since six decades was the average age, we opted for B&Bs and hotels on the route and had our luggage shuttled from stop to stop. But there are also campsites along the way for those who want to haul their gear and desire a more rugged experience.