Penn Live: by Jim Cheney

The fact that Pennsylvania has more rail trails than any other state in America shouldn't come as much surprise given the state's rich railroad history. However, what few realize is that Pennsylvania is home to the fourth longest rail trail in the entire country.

The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) was officially completed just three years ago, nearly three decades after the first section was completed. Utilizing old railroad grades, the trail travels 150 miles from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland, cutting a path through some of the most beautiful terrain in southwestern Pa.

Despite the trail's length, it is relatively flat, making it a perfect biking trip for beginners and experts alike. The GAP passes through trail towns every 15-25 miles, meaning that you are never far from help, a warm meal, or a comfortable bed for the night. However, despite being close to civilization, outside of the Pittsburgh suburbs, the trail feels secluded, passing through forested hillsides filled with beautiful waterfalls, stunning vistas, and abundant wildlife.

The trail is highlighted by the amazing Ohiopyle State Park. Home to fantastic hiking to secluded waterfalls, amazing history, and the most popular whitewater rafting site east of the Mississippi River, Ohiopyle is a must-visit destination for travelers along the Great Allegheny Passage. And, what Ohiopyle lacks in accommodation choices, it makes up for with great dining options in the tiny town. A stop in the town is a great way to break up the trip as nearly all of the park's highlights are located within a short hike or bike ride from the bike trail.

Another highlight of the Great Allegheny Passage is the Levi Deal Mansion in Meyersdale. This early 20th century home was built by a coal and lumber magnate, and after nearly being torn down decades ago, has been revitalized as the most luxurious place to stay along the trail. Owners Jan and Michael Dofner welcome guests to their immaculately restored home and offer a touch of luxury that's very welcome after a long day on the trail.

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