trail towns

GAP trail towns

One cool thing about riding the GAP are the trail towns.  There is a town every ten miles or so along the trail which provide travelers with all of the basic the neccessities.  The towns have a lot of character and range dramatically in the services they provide.  Below is a list of the trail towns and a brief description of the services they offer.  Keep in mind that there will be a number of businesses and services which are not included in this list.  Some of the Trail Towns are considerably more fun and offer more services than others.  The preferred towns that have decent lodging and restaurant options are indicated with a (stay here) comment.  These will have a fair amount of amenities and should be on your radar when planning overnights.  The 'HR' stands for highly recommended.  These are my personal favorite towns.    

Cumberland  mile 0 - (stay here, HR) This is a great place to stop.  An overnight stay in Cumberland is always a good thing.  This is my son's favorite hotel in the world (maybe because the hot tub).  There's a cool pedestrian mall (Canal Place) at mile marker '0' where the GAP meets the C&O Canal with a bike shop and a restaurant.  There are plenty of other lodging options including B&B's as well as mainstream hotels.  There are also camping options nearby.  Cumberland has a gang of lodging options, restaurants, stores, and bike shops. If you are starting your journey here, you will have no trouble obtaining bike rentals. If your plan includes riding the C&O Canal to D.C., this is a great spot to get your bike serviced, spend the night, or to pick up trail supplies.  The towns along the C&O are fewer and further between (stock up).

Cumberland food

Cumberland lodging

Cumberland bike shop

Frostburg  mile 16 - (stay here, HR) Frostburg has a lot to offer.  There are a bunch of restaurants and lodging options.  Unfortunately, it's a steep climb from the trail head up to the main street in town.   You will find ample hotels, campgrounds, laundromats, restaurants, & stores here. If you are heading east, you will also notice a change in the trail here. Instead of running on the grade of an abandoned railroad, the trail now runs, intermittently, alongside an active railroad track. You will also enjoy stretches of paved trail and may even see an old steam-powered locomotive competing with you to make it to Cumberland.

Frostburg food

Frostburg lodging - I stayed at the Trail Inn which was comfortable and clean.  Breakfast is included with the price of a private room, and they offered group rooms and tent sites. 

Meyersdale  mile 32 - (stay here, HR) is one of the larger towns and has a number of options for lodging, and food.  There's no mainstream hotel but there are a handful of B&B's with the Levi Deal Mansion topping the list. 

Meyersdale food

Meyersdale lodging

Rockwood  mile 43 - (Stay here) Rockwood is a nice little town.  Choose from the handful of B&B's (one even has a bike shop in the back).  There's a couple restaurants, a little grocery market that shares a building with the local pub and a main street with a bunch of quaint shops.

Rockwood food

Rockwood lodging

Confluence  mile 60 - (stay here, HR) Confluence is one of my favorite trail towns!  It's picturesque, with a gazebo positioned in the middle of the town square.  There are a couple nice B&B's to choose from and there's a nice restaurant for dinner , a pub for after dinner and a diner for breakfast. 

Confluence food

Confluence lodging - The River's Edge is my favorite place in Confluence.  It's a cozy B&B located on the bank of the Youghiogheny river which is also home to the finest restaurant in town.   Great river views from the porch and surrounding gardens and in the warmer months you can dine on the porch.  This is a very popular destination for cyclists riding from Ohiopyle.

Ohiopyle  mile 72 - (stay here, HR) Ohiopyle is an excellent town to spend some time because it's Western PA's whitewater mecca.  The place is packed on the weekends with kayakers, rafters and cyclists.  There are a bunch of B&B's and even a small motel.  I hope you made reservations in one of the many B&B's because the nearest campground is a 1000 vertical foot climb from the bike trail. 

Ohiopyle food - There's a handful of spots to get a decent meal but the entire town is very tourist dependent.  So there's always the chance that if the weather is bad your options may be limited. 

Ohiopyle lodging - Ohiopyle has a number of options for overnight accommodations. 

Connellsville  mile 88 - Connellsville’s coke factories once fueled the regional economy. Many of the town's buildings, churches and residences are indicative of this prosperous past. Today’s local favorites are Youghiogheny Glass (National Register building), Bud Murphy’s Pizza and El Canelo Mexican Restaurant.  You will find the River's Edge Campground near mile marker 92 (actually located in Adelaide).  It's wedged between the GAP trail and the Youghiogheny River.  They have a pool, showers, supply store, restaurant, and even Chinese take-out delivery.  Camping doesn't get easier than that.  Click here to learn more about Connellsville. 

Connellsville food

Connellsville lodging

Dawson  mile 96 - Pampering yourself in Dawson is going to be a challenge.  However, what this town lacks in gourmet dining and accommodations they make up for with campgrounds and canoe rental.  This is your town if you are a camper and you have brought food with you.

Dawson food

Dawson lodging

West Newton  mile 116 - (stay here) The old train station has been restored and is now the Trail head Visitor's Center which has some of the nicest public restrooms on the GAP.  Check out the restaurant overlooking the trail called the Trailside.  They are famous for their strawberry salad and cold beer.  There's a couple B&B's in town and primitive camping six miles south along the trail.

West Newton food

West Newton lodging

Boston  mile 130 - Boston has become a very popular spot to start and end trips because there's plenty of parking and it's safe (relatively) to leave your car.  There is a diner and a friendly pub, and a restaurant called the Boston Waterfront but the town is far from glamorous. 

Boston food

Boston lodging

Bike rental

McKeesport  mile 134 - Unfortunately, McKeesport has very little to offer in the way of amenities.   The town has seen roughly half of the population move due to the general economic downturn which descended upon the region when the steel making industry moved elsewhere.  Other than a quick stop at the convenience store you should just keep on pedaling.  The trail passes through the Homestead Waterfront mall a four miles down the trail towards Pittsburgh. There you will find many restaurant choices in addition to lodging options.

Duquesne  mile 140 - Don't look at Duquesne as a place to  leave your car because it will probably not be there when you return.  Homestead is about four miles down the road and has safe trail head parking.  Duquesne does not fall into the category of a Trail Town because there are no services for cyclists.  You should either have stayed back in Boston or keep on pedaling to Homestead or Pittsburgh.    

Homestead  mile 144 - (stay here, HR) The bike trail passes through the Homestead Waterfront Mall which offers everything you would see at a typical mall.  The mall has restaurants, hotels, and lots of retail shops (although, there's no bike shop).  The mall does have a Dick's Sporting Goods and a Target which would carry a minimal selection of bike equipment.  Lots of good food and a couple hotel options.  REI is another 4 miles down the trail, located in South Side Works mall, a little closer to Pittsburgh.

Homestead food - There are too many food options to list.  There's several fast food places, lots of chain restaurants like Friday's, Red Robin, Longhorn Steakhouse etc.  There's a delicious taco shop that's two blocks from the trail called Smoke.

Homestead lodging

overnight parking is available at the Pumphouse.  The Historic Pump House welcomes cyclists to the property to enjoy bike-amenities such as restrooms in the nearby Water Tower, bike racks, benches and picnic tables.  Overnight and daytime parking is available in return for a small daily donation or an annual membership as a Trail Head Friend.  Click here to become a friend of the Trail Head.  Regardless of whether you become a friend or donate on a per usage basis, overnight parking requires you to complete a registration form.  All parking is at your own risk.  Rivers of Steel is not responsible for damage or theft to vehicles or vehicle contents.

Pittsburgh  mile 150 - (stay here, HR) You made it!  Get yourself cleaned up because there's plenty to do in Pittsburgh.  The trail passes within 50 feet from the bar at the Hofbrau Haus which is located on Pittsburgh's South Side.  They serve giant beers and the food is decent and reasonably priced.  Once you get cleaned up, ride across the Hot Metal bridge and up Panther Hollow through Shadyside to a neighborhood called Point Breeze.  There you will find the Point Brugge restaurant.  This place serves mussels with a red curry coconut milk sauce that is so delicious that you will want to tip the bowl back to get every last bit.

Pittsburgh food

Pittsburgh lodging - there are many lodging options in Pittsburgh.  The list below focuses on hotels that are on or close to the trail.  For the more adventurous there are dozens of B&B's and many folks that rent out rooms through airbnb and vrbo.

bike shops and rentals

Looking for more information about amenities in the Trail here.

Food on the C&O Canal

Here's a list of my favorite restaurants that are close to the trail.

Georgetown: Paolo's is hands down my favorite place in Georgetown but you may want to check into your hotel and get cleaned up a bit before dining here.  It's on Wisconsin Ave which is a busy street so you may want to find a stash for your bike before heading in.  But if your bike is packed with panniers and you don't have a safe place to store it, there's a couple places in the Washington Harbour Shopping Plaza which is a few steps from mile 0.  Try Nick's Riverside Grill. Great Falls: The Old Anglers Inn is awesome but it's an upscale restaurant so you may not want to dine here if sweat is dripping off your forehead.  They do have outdoor seating which is more casual, but the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center has a snack bar and rest rooms if you are looking for something super casual.

Brunswick:  Not a lot of choices in Brunswick.  You can get a burger with chips at Mommer's diner for $2.75 and you get what you pay for.  The best food in town is probably El Sloppy Tacos.  They also reign supreme as the night life hotspot.  There's a new bike shop in town called Three Points Cycle.  The owner Keith did a fine job replacing spokes on my rear wheel last time I was in town.  He's the guy to see if you need any bike maintenance.

Shepherdstown:  Many of the towns along the trail are small with very limited restaurant options.  This is not the case in Shepherdstown.  This town is packed with dining options and a great bike shop called the Pedal Paddle.  It's a college town so there's all types of restaurants ranging from Thai to gourmet.  I had a delicious steak at a place called the Press Room.  This is a great town with camping down the road and a number of hotels to choose from.

Williamsport:  Williamsport is a strategic place to stop because whether you are traveling north or south, there's no town for 25 miles.  If you're stopping in Williamsport you have to check out the Desert Rose Cafe.  Their fruit smoothies are delicious and all of their sandwiches are fresh.  I was having mechanical issues with my bike so Rose and Alan allowed me to use their computer to research bike shops and accommodations.  You guys are super-nice people (they are not a couple) and I wanted to thank you again.

Hancock:  C&O Bicycle shop is wedged between the Maryland Rail Trail and the C&O Canal.  I doubt that you could pick a better location for a bike shop that is also a general store and bunkhouse.  The bearings in my rear wheel were contaminated from riding in the rain for two days and they were clicking and grinding with every turn of the wheel.  Dennis cleaned out the hub, installed new bearings and replaced a broken spoke in just a few minutes.  Check out Weaver's restaurant just around the corner.

Little Orleans:  This is the home of Bill's Place.  It's a bar, general store and diner, located in Little Orleans, Maryland. Locals and visitors alike come to Bill's Place for its one of a kind atmosphere. This log cabin style building is a favorite stop for a cold drink and an excellent meal.  There's a full-service campground up the hill that is home to the ugliest ducks in the world.

Oldtown: This place is like an oasis in the desert because Oldtown is the only place to get some food along the 40 mile stretch between Little Orleans and Cumberland.  There's an old schoolhouse about a quarter mile from the trail that has been converted into several businesses.  This is where you will find the Schoolhouse Kitchen Cafe, which is located, yes, you guessed it, in the old schoolhouse cafeteria.  There is nothing fancy about the place, but they will serve you a home cooked meal for under $4.00 and fill up your water bottle with ice cold filtered water.