Pittsburg, the Great Allegheny Passage
The Great Allegheny Passage is the longest rail-trail east of the Mississippi River, which spans two states in its course along great rivers and across mountain passes. The trail spreads from Pittsburgh, PA, to Cumberland, Maryland, tracing the paths of railroads and building America.
There are several parking lots along Waterfront Drive in the shopping area in Homestead, south of Pittsburgh. To approach the McKeesport trailhead farther south, you can park in the park on Water Street. You can also park near the intersection of the Great Allegheny Passage and Montour Trail, just off SR 837. You can park without fee at the trailheads in Confluence, Ohiopyle, Connellsville, Meyersdale, Garret, Rockwood, Markleton and Fort Hill as well.
Otherwise, check out the Allegheny Trail Alliance website for more information about other access points along the Great Allegheny Passage.
Start at Pittsburgh’s Point State Park, the trail overlaps the route of the Eliza Furnace segment of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. An array of signage interpreting the industrial past of the area will welcome you. There will be a crossing of the Hot Metal Bridge, which used to carry iron rail from the Eliza furnaces to Pittsburgh's south side to produce finished steel, spans across the Monongahela River to the Three Rivers Heritage Trail's South Side and Baldwin Borough segments, which extend south to Homestead.
In the small Pittsburgh suburb, industrial artifacts and interpretive signage offer attraction to the area called The Waterfront. Here you can find a modern retail with various restaurants and entertainment, which rebuilt to reflect early 20th century charm.
Next, the Great Allegheny Passage runs south from Homestead, goes through former steel mill site along the banks of Monongahela River to McKeesport. Then the trail splits into two: on-road Clairton Connector heading west through Glassport to meet the Montour Trail in Clairton, and the main trail heading south.
Ride along the Youghiogheny River from McKeesport, you will see the industrial towns. The first 40 miles of this segment go through the Pennsylvania towns of Boston, West Newton and Dawson. Trailside B&Bs, bike shops and cafes welcome trail users in these towns, making them great resting places. After that, the trail will approach the historic boomtown of Connellsville, there the industrial revolution is still alive. This town provides magnificent parks, restaurants, and cafes. The next 28 miles, the trail will follow the Youghiogheny River through Ohiopyle State Park. Take refuge under the dense canopy of the hardwood forest on the river’s edge. Before you reach the quaint town of Ohiopyle, you will pass two impressive trestles. Not only the trail is a central destination, but also the Youghiogheny River is a popular whitewater rafting destination.
The trail then heads south along the river to Confluence, runs to northeast for about 30 miles, following the Casselman River to Metersdale.
You can continue a gentle climb since the trail runs southeast toward the Eastern Continental Divide and Maryland state line. Pass through the 0.5-mile-long Big Savage Tunnel just beyond the divide and take in stunning views of the surrounding hills and agricultural valleys as you pass the Mason-Dixon Line into Maryland, just beyond the tunnel.
The trail will leave Frostburg and go 16 miles more through rolling Maryland countryside to Cumberland. Much of this section, the trail parallels the active Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.
Note that equestrians are only permitted on the grassy areas of the Great Allegheny Passage between Boston and Connellsville, Rockwood and Garrett, and Frostburg and the Maryland–Pennsylvania state line.
To make sure you have a smooth ride, before you set out on a long journey to explore the trail, check the Allegheny Trail Alliance website for updates on detours and other safety information.
239.379 km / 148.743 mi
920 m / 3,017 ft
889 m / 2,917 ft
717 m / 2,353 ft