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GAP Mile 0 - 25: Cumberland & Frostburg

Tags on this page: Canal Place, Cumberland, Frostburg, C&O Canal, Bike Packing, Bike Touring,  Lodging, Restaurants, GAP, Big Savage Tunnel

The first 24 miles of the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) are the most challenging going west,but the views make the effort worthwhile.  The Gap begins at Canal Place in Cumberland where the 184.5 mile C&O Canal National Historic Park towpath trail from Washington DC ends.  Canal Place is located in downtown Cumberland where cyclist can find several hotels, restaurants, museums, art galleries, gift shops, bike shops, Amtrak station, and even a winery.   

 

For those riders who do not wish to challenge the 24 mile 1800' climb to the Eastern Continental divide, shuttle services are available from Cumberland Trail Connection   and Get Out and Play Outfitters . The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad   which runs  

immediately adjacent to the GAP for most of the way to Frostburg, will also allow you take your bike with you to Frostburg.

 

For more information about the Cumberland and Frostburg areas visit the digital version of Allegany County Maryland Destination Guide. 

For discount coupons and an event calendar visit www.TownPlanner.com and enter Cumberland or Frostburg when prompted for a "community."

The first 2.2 miles of the GAP are paved and will take you through a beautiful water gap called "The Narrows" through Wills Mountain and across the first of many railroad bridges.   For the next three miles cyclists will experience the typical straight rail-trail with limited views where they will pass Bone Cave, where bones from the Pleistocene-era have been found and are on permanent display at the Smithsonian.   

At the 5-mile marker, cyclists will ride a sweeping curve called Helmstetter's Curve which is a favorite for rail enthusiast taking photos of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. From there cyclist will enter the 914-foot brush tunnel.  

 The next nine miles are mostly wooded with good tree canopy providing shade (you will appreciate that in the summer) to the Frostburg Trail Head.  Cyclist wishing to visit Frostburg will find a rather steep switchback trail to take them to the top of the hill (past the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad's Frostburg station) to the main downtown shopping district for the many services one finds in a small college town. Several of our favorites include great pizza at Giannis, and a wonderful B&B called the Allegheny Trail House (which is owned by cyclists), dinner dining at Giuseppes' Italian Restaurant and the Corner Store, no longer located on a corner. 

From Frostburg west is again a mostly wooded ride where wildlife abounds.  We have seen Black Bears here as well as Eastern Timber Rattlesnakes including one den located right alongside the trail.   After crossing the Mason Dixon line riders are rewarded for their efforts with a fantastic view of the Valley and can see "The Narrows" from where the ride began (look for sandy colored section of the far Mountain) some 20 miles east!  After a well-deserved break at the sheltered picnic area, cyclist will then ride through the 3300-foot-long Big Savage Tunnel which is lighted to make your cycling easier. The tunnel along with the Keystone Viaduct in Meyersdale are the two most impressive structures, of many such structures along the GAP 

 

After the tunnel, it is a short ride to the Eastern Continental Divide where visitors will enjoy the murals and elevation chart on the under-road passage tunnel. You will often find other cyclists stopped here for the obligatory photo opportunity. 

 The ride from here is mostly open with minimal tree canopy, crossing several impressive bridges on the approach to Meyersdale.   

 
 

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How to use the table: The table below contains points of interest for this section of the trail! Click on the heading of each section in order to get a sorted list of items (i.e. see all items by Mile on the trail, or all places with Food.) The upper right contains a search bar -- use this to find all items with a specific word (i.e. all 'locks' or all 'attraction'). All items below also exist on the map above, grouped and labeled by type for clarity and convenience.