Had a wonderful trip with my 4 friends. We spent the first night in Frostburg (not a very nice motel) and in the morning 2 of them brought me to the trail head in Cumberland where I began. I enjoyed the scenery as I pedaled the 15 miles up a slight grade to meet up with the rest of the group at Frostburg. Highlights: a small town nestled in the valley with windmills blowing along the mountain ridge line in the background, Eastern Divide, and Big Savage Tunnel (a little over 1/2 mile). A slight rain turned into a downpour with 10 miles left. Since we had a sag we were met at Rockwood trail head and found a water fountain and were able to get cleaned up. That night we stayed in a cozy rustic cabin at a campground about 4 miles from the trail. Very inexpensive - $54.00 for the night - Hickory Hollow Campground. Only 2 cabins and I had made reservations about 3 months ago. That night we went to the Opera House to eat. Good food, reasonable prices, and lots of choices.
Day 2 - Rockwood does not have a single restaurant opened on Sunday until noon. Since we had the sag we were able to backtrack 6 miles to near the PA turnpike where we enjoyed a filling breakfast at a chain restaurant. Back at the trailhead we began our second day - 48 miles. With trail towns far and few between it would be rough doing this if the weather was hot but this particular week-end (other than the rain) conditions were perfect. We followed the river(s) with lots of white water, kayaks, canoes, etc. The trail today was difficult in spots - loose stones, soft dirt, and looks like a landslide in one area but doable. We stopped at Ohiopyle for lunch. Lots of choices and the people were very friendly. As it was Sunday and a beautiful day the place was inundated with people. I had read that the population of the town was only 59 - it swells on week-end. We made our way to Connellsville where we stayed at Melody Motor Lodge. About 2 miles from the trail it would be easy enough to get to if no sag (about a mile hill at the end though). Place was clean and the manager was very helpful. We were going to go to the Mexican Restaurant but they were on vacation. Instead we went downtown to a tavern that had really good food. It was recommended by a policeman who was helping people in the area of the Mexican place as they were having a community music fest that evening. So when we came out of the tavern we enjoyed singing along. In the morning we ate at a dinner located behind the motel and opens at 5:45 AM. Food was also good here. Originally my friends were all going to go to McKeesport via the sag and I would get an early start, meet them and then we would all ride into Pittsburgh. However, they decided they didn't want to go into the city and would rather ride. So we began and stopped at a restaurant right along the trail that was frequented by lots of bikers - Trailside Restaurant at West Newton. Underneath they had a very busy bike shop. Food was excellent and prices were fine. After eating we began the last 15-20 miles before meeting up with the car. This area became more urban, more streets to cross, and less scenery to enjoy. Riding into McKeesport was interesting. Part of the trail went by a garbage dump and going up/down a paved hill several spots were in need of repair - would be dangerous if another rider was flying down the hill at you. We had to cross over a bridge and that also would have been interesting if another rider was coming in the opposite direction as not enough room. Someone said an alternate means existed but we had no clue. We found our ride, packed up, and started the ride home.
Overall I would recommend this ride. It would be difficult if you were going self-contained because unlike the C&O that has areas every 10 miles to pitch a tent we went for miles where it would have been difficult to find a clearing. I only noted two or three water fountains along the way so you would have to travel into the towns (that were sometimes few and far between and always up a steep hill it seemed) to replenish. However, the beauty, no cars, tranquility of the trail outweighs these things.
I started in Cumberland and the grade as I said was very doable for about 23 miles. After that it was 40-50 miles of a very slight downhill that made it pretty easy pedaling. The surface (other than those few miles on Day 2) was packed down with some loose stones - normal rail trail. The trail towns are really starting to cater to the bike crowd, so I'm sure that this trail will continue to improve.
|13 Days until: All children will be home for Christmas!