The Great Allegheny Passage/C&O Canal Gravel Tour rides along two of the best back-to-back gravel trails in the United States. Both of these magnificent trails are steeped in history with the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (C&O Canal) trail offering a more “back in time” experience.
The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) is a more recent addition to the growing number of US rails-to-trails and it offers a world-class 150 mile gravel trail second to none in terms of quality and experience.
Road bike, Mountain bike
539 km / 335 mi
Point State Park
Three Rivers Heritage Trail
Ohiopyle State Park
Deposit for this tour is $950.-pp.
Road bike, Mountain bike
Easy = untrained, normal physical condition Moderate = regular cyclist, good condition Challenging = experienced, well trained
Guided = with cycling guide(s) - support van Self Guided = individual - directions+maps
100-120 km / 62-75 mi
539 km / 335 mi
Deluxe = 4-5 star hotel or excellent B&B Basic = 1-2 star hotel/motel or B&B Camping = tent, sports hall or campus
Deluxe, room & breakfast
Daily luggage transfers
08 May 2023 - 12 May 2023 15 May 2023 - 19 May 2023 22 May 2023 - 26 May 2023 25 Sep 2023 - 29 Sep 2023 02 Oct 2023 - 06 Oct 2023 09 Oct 2023 - 13 Oct 2023 16 Oct 2023 - 20 Oct 2023
Airport at start
PA/Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)
Airport at finish
D.C./Dulles International Airport (IAD) or Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)
Prices *Please note the prices are subject to change depending availability*
Price per person / please note the prices are subject to change depending availability
shuttle from Washington DC area back to Pittsburgh
On Day 6 (the day the tour ends) an optional shuttle from the Washington, DC area to Pittsburgh is available for you, your bike, and your gear to get to the tour start meeting hotel (reservations on-your-own) in Pittsburgh, PA. If you do not choose this option, you are on-your-own to make your own travel arrangements. (From $75.-)
If you travel alone a single supplement is charged. With some group tours you can avoid a single supplement by sharing a room with another rider.
Included / Not included
Day 0: Arrival in Pittsburgh
Guests either fly into Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) and shuttle to the meeting hotel, or drive to the meeting hotel. The meeting hotel will be the Hilton Garden Inn Pittsburgh Airport South-Robinson Mall (near the airport) and there will be a late afternoon “Meet & Greet” session where you get to meet your fellow riders for the week, get your bikes ready and where guides will discuss the highlights of the week ahead.
NOTE: Guests are on-their-own for accommodations this evening either at the Hilton Garden Inn, or at other nearby hotels. The Hilton Garden Inn offers a complimentary airport shuttle to/from the airport. Guests are on-their-own for dinner this evening and there are several restaurants within walking distance from the hotel.
IMPORTANT: Due to the long distance that needs to be covered tomorrow, we will meet at 6:00 AM and depart no later than 6:30 AM to shuttle to the ride start in downtown Pittsburgh, so please get plenty of rest and be prepared to leave early.
Day 1: Pittsburgh, PA to Ohiopyle
78 miles +2155 ft / -1650 ft
We will meet very early to depart from the meeting hotel as today will be a long day in the saddle. Shuttling from the hotel to downtown Pittsburgh and the beginning of the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP), we officially start the tour from Point State Park where two great rivers – the Allegheny and the Monongahela – meet to form the mighty Ohio River. From here we embark on our 5-day journey by riding on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail which soon meets up with the Great Allegheny Passage.
Continuing southeast along the GAP we slowly shed the urban setting and paved sections of the trail to hit the gravel and enjoy the ever increasing remoteness. Our support team will meet up with the riders at designated points to keep the group hydrated and fed. After making our way past Connellsville, Pennsylvania, we encounter the stunning beauty of ancient growth trees and immense ravines as we enter Ohiopyle State Park. The ride ends in the small town of Ohiopyle with a check into our accommodations. Guests are on their own this evening for dinner at one of the many establishments in Ohiopyle.
Day 2: Ohiopyle to Cumberland
72 miles +2710 ft / -3320 ft
Back on the trail we again experience the magnificent old growth forests while also enjoying the smooth limestone surface of the GAP. Today’s ride on the GAP is through some of the most remote areas along the trail and it offers notable landmarks such as the Salisbury Viaduct (nearly 2,000′ feet long and 100′ above the Casselman River Valley), the Pinkerton Tunnel, the Eastern Continental Divide and finally passage through the 3,300′ long Big Savage Tunnel which rewards with a fantastic view of the Allegheny Mountains immediately after exiting the eastern terminus.
From top of Savage Mountain it’s then a 23 mile fast and cruisy descent to the small town of Cumberland, Maryland where the GAP trail ends and tomorrow the C&O Canal trail begins. After rolling into town we’ll check into to our accommodations for the night and head out for a well deserved dinner in downtown Cumberland.
Day 3: Cumberland to Hancock
60 miles +675 ft / -875 ft
Departing from Cumberland, today will be a transition day as we join the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal (aka: C&O Canal) for the remainder of our journey. The two trails are quite different and the smooth gravel surface of the GAP is replaced by the more rugged dual-track of the C&O Canal tow path trail which can become challenging in wet conditions. After leaving Cumberland behind we soon find ourselves in very remote country with zero cell reception – perfect for that digital detox!
Midway through the day we encounter the Paw Paw Tunnel, 3,200′ of utter darkness with a narrow trail along with the canal – bring a headlight as you will certainly need it! After the Paw Paw Tunnel we continue our meandering ride along the C&O Canal eventually reaching our goal of Hancock, Maryland. Guests are on their own for dinner this evening in Hancock, but we highly recommend Buddylou’s Eats Drinks & Antiques!
Day 4: Hancock to Harpers Ferry
64 miles +640 ft / -785 ft
Departing Hancock, today’s route to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia offers a continued ride through history passing many old locks and lock tender houses. Soon after Hancock there is an opportunity to visit Fort Frederick, a star fort that was active in the French and Indian War and the American Revolutionary War. We will stop at Williamsport, Maryland to enjoy lunch adjacent to the large turn basin and if there is time, perhaps take a short ride on the recently restored canal boat.
From Williamsport, we continue south and encounter the “Big Slackwater” area of the C&O Canal where the trail is carved into the high cliff sides and augmented by concrete ramps and wooden bridges extending into the Potomac River. At the end of the day we reach our destination of Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia for lodging and enjoy a relaxed post-ride dinner in one of the many historic downtown restaurants.
Day 5: Harpers Ferry to Washington
61 miles +490 ft / -765 ft
It’s the final day of our gravel adventure and our final push back to civilization. Departing Harper’s Ferry we rejoin the C&O Canal enjoying the slow, gradual descent to our destination of Washington, D.C. We again pass more historic lock tender houses where some of them have been restored and are available to rent year round. Nearing Washington we encounter Great Falls which presents some of the most rugged waters along the Potomac River and which has become a destination for white water kayakers and other adventure seekers.
We finally make it to the outskirts of our nation’s capital by first passing through Georgetown and eventually finding the elusive “Mile 0” marker for the C&O Canal near the infamous Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C.
You have just completed 335 gravel miles in 5 days… job well done!
For elevation profile see PDF file below.
* This is a general itinerary. Tour itineraries are subject to change based on the group, available accommodations and other unforeseen circumstances such as the weather, local conditions, government intervention, that may affect the quality of the trip and/or safety of the participants. Please view this itinerary as an outline as to what to expect on this tour.
This is a semi-supported tour, Semi-supported is when a guide does not ride with the guests and can only offer support at the start of the ride or at the end of the ride.
Daily cue sheets
4-nights of lodging,
4 breakfasts (day 2 to 5), 5 packed lunches (day 1 to 5), 2 dinners included (day 2 and 4)
Night before and after the tour not included
Airfare to and from the tour start
rental bike. Be sure to bring your own helmet. We have a very limited supply and will only pack them if special arrangements are made ahead of time.
Map & Routes
Bike Suggestions: Road bikes are NOT recommended. This tour is best enjoyed on a cross bike with 32-38mm gravel ready tires or on a 26″/27.5″/29″ mountain/gravel bike with 1.75-2.00″ moderate knobby tires as large/wide knobby tires will actually make the journey more challenging. A gravel/adventure/bikepacking bike or a 27.5″ or 29″ plus bike would also be ideal. Also be prepared for potential wet/muddy conditions along the C&O Canal.
Bike Rental: Scott Addict disc with 30mm tires or our mountain bikes, Scott Geniuses. (approx. $325 for the week)
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