Tour Logistics - Fall Colors Bike Tour on the GAP - CycleBlaze

October 11, 2021

Tour Logistics

Planning a 3-day 150-mile tour on the GAP

My Great Allegheny Passage end-to-end tour
Heart 0 Comment 0

There is no single formula for a bike tour. I have played bicycle tourist many times on the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) and Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Trail (C&O) over the past ten years. Each one has been a unique experience that has some similarities. My first tour was with a friend on a self-supported camping and bed and breakfast tour. I have toured the trail twice as a self-supported solo bike tourist. Three times saw me guiding a group of friends on a supported tour.

This tour is a credit card tour with SAG support on the GAP with seven cycling friends. I retired 5 years ago and decided to make an end-to-end C&O and GAP tour an annual tradition. A combination of pandemic concerns, detours on the C&O, and a too-busy retirement life led me to a three-day GAP end-to-end tour.

One of my fellow bicycle tourists had some health concerns and opted to be our SAG driver for the week. This simplifies day-to-day coordination including luggage transfer, nightly bed and breakfast check-in, and general support along the tour. He will see us off in the morning, join us at lunch, and meet us at the end of the day.

The GAP is becoming more popular in the previously undiscovered autumn color season. I was fortunate to find two bed and breakfasts able to accommodate our group of eight comfortably. This is always a challenge with a group of this size and a mixture of singles and couples.

I found an excellent shuttle service in Wilderness Voyageurs that could deliver us back to Pittsburgh on our schedule. The flat price service was made reasonable with the expense shared by eight bike tourists.

This above made for a reasonable 3-day GAP tour costing the cyclists less than $200 for two nights of accommodations and a shuttle back to their cars. Many organizations offer supported tours on the GAP in the $1,000 plus range. I am certain they offer a stellar experience and service. The tour is one that individuals can plan and do on their own. There are plentiful B&Bs and hotels along the trail, luggage services will transfer your luggage to the night’s destination, and shuttle services will deliver you back to your starting point.

I planned this tour for what I believe is an optional number of miles per day for a casual ride that allows for plenty of photo-ops and stops along the trail to enjoy the scenery and autumn colors. The big question on the GAP is whether to go east to west or west to east. I see this as a tossup with both offering a similar experience. I chose west to east for several reasons. It is more convenient to start in Pittsburgh due to my and my fellow cyclist's shorter drive to Pittsburgh. West to the east gives the cyclists an easy 25-mile downhill into Cumberland at the end of the tour.

Day one: Pittsburgh to West Newton (36 miles)

Some of my fellow bike tourists will drive into Pittsburgh and others will overnight in the city. We will park downtown at the Grant Street Transportation Center at a reasonable cost. It is less than a two miles cycle by trail to Point State Park for our start of tour photo. 

Day two: West Newton to Confluence (52 miles)

I love overnighting in Confluence. It offers so much as a trail town. I have many favorite bed and breakfasts in this town. It gives bike tourists a real feel of a small town in the Allegheny Highlands. No tour is complete without visiting Brad and his wife at Confluence Cyclery.

Day three: Confluence to Cumberland (62 miles)

This is THE DAY! I love love love this section of the GAP. There are so many photo-ops and many memories to be made on these miles. It is the longest day, but the last twenty-five miles are at a good downhill into Cumberland. The plaza at the Western Maryland Railroad Station is the perfect finish for the day and the tour.

Follow my daily posts as I pedal across the GAP. The weather forecast is super bicycle friendly with daily highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s with sunny days. Fall color is peaking in the mountains. I am more than ready to get on my bike in Pittsburgh.

Rate this entry's writing Heart 3
Comment on this entry Comment 1
Al BurnardI can feel the excitement building in your writing and your eagerness to begin a new adventure. Wishing you a thoroughly wonderful time!
Reply to this comment
1 week ago