An Introduction

I am not a cyclist, but I love travel, new experiences, and adventure...

I'm Sarah, the Program Manager for Friends of the Riverfront, a nonprofit in Pittsburgh that has been building trails and restoring the region's riverfronts for over 20 years.

The 25-mile Three Rivers Heritage Trail has helped transform Pittsburgh from an industrial city to a green one. We work to build, maintain, expand, and promote this riverfront trail system for cyclists, walkers, runners, commuters, and rollerbladers. The Three Rivers Heritage Trail is also a Pittsburgh hub, connecting to larger trail systems.

This year, we celebrate the completion of the last link in the Great Allegheny Passage - the final mile to form a complete trail connection between Washington D.C. and Pittsburgh.

In anticipation of the official grand opening Point Made! celebration on June 15, I'm joining the grand opening ride to pedal 335-miles from D.C. to Pittsburgh on the C&O Canal Towpath and the Great Allegheny Passage.

Count down the days -- and miles by taking a virtual tour with me from the Capital to the Burgh! I hope you'll enjoy following me on this amazing ride!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Rivers and Woods

Day 6: Rockwood, PA to Dunbar, PA on the Great Allegheny Passage

Today must have been one of my favorite riding days on the trail. After storms through the night, the weather was calm and cool, perfect for cycling, and the most beautiful stretch of trail to do it on.

The breakfast buffet at 7 Springs was a treasure trove providing anything you could dream of and I loaded up on eggs, bacon, fruit, potatoes, and a cream puff doughnut to fuel the day.

The short shuttle ride dropped us back off in Rockwood where we started to ride -- and time flew by. The section of trail from Rockwood to Dunbar was so incredibly scenic with a wide crushed limestone path that allowed you to maintain a good speed and fully enjoy your surroundings.

The Casselman River from the Trail.

Trail bridge on the Great Allegheny Passage
We passed over trail bridges that leapt over the Casselman River creating dramatic scenic views of the hills and water below. Before we knew it, almost 20 miles had passed and we were met by a welcoming committee, the Confluence Chamber of Commerce, with a refreshment station right on the trail. They offered water and orange wedges and cheered us on, so excited to see our group. We stopped to talk for a few minutes before continuing on toward Ohiopyle.

Stopping for refreshments in Confluence

Mural along the trail in Confluence
Just after Confluence, Ohiopyle State Park began, and the most beautiful views with tree-lined trails, rocks, rhododendrons, waterfalls, and kamikaze chipmunks that darted onto the trail and then back to safety. I have visited Ohiopyle many times in the past, but have never been able to experience so much of the park's beauty.

Trees lining the Great Allegheny Passage

Rocks and rhododendrons line the Trail.
Before we knew it we were in Ohiopyle, and met a bunch of our group members at the bike racks by the station welcome center. They reported that two of our group members had seen a bear on the trail.

For lunch, we ate at The Firefly Grill -- just steps from the trail, and right as it started to rain. The Grill was nice with good food and friendly staff and we took a nice break for lunch and waited out the rain. We even got ice cream to help enjoy the wait.

When we were finished, the rain had stopped and we joined some of our groupmates to continue our ride to Dunbar. At first the air seemed to have cooled down significantly from the rain, but it was really perfect riding weather, and a beautiful mist hung in the trees. We passed over the great bridge over the Youghiogheny River and saw people coming in from a kayak trip.

Looking back at Ohiopyle from the bridge
The trail really seemed to fly by, especially after lunch and with the slight downhill grade. The trail was wet from the rain and had some puddles, but the dirt was nothing compared to Monday's ride on the C&O.

About halfway between lunch and our turnoff, there was an overlook with a beautiful view of the river below.

Overlooking the Youghiogheny River
When we got to Mile 86, we turned off onto the Sheepskin Trail that led us about 2 miles into Dunbar where our shuttle and bike truck were waiting.

Our group leaders told me that I had been requested at the Dunbar Historical Society, and there I was greeted by Linda, Donna, and Mike. They were such kind people and all so very excited to have us stop by. Linda gave me a big hug even though I was completely covered in grit from the trail and they offered us refreshments, some town history,  and asked about our trip.

Dunbar Historical Society with Linda and Donna
The Dunbar Volunteer Fire Station had left a hose on for us to hose off our dirty bikes before loading them into the truck for the night, and soon we were on our way to the Holiday Inn in Uniontown.

After getting cleaned up, our group headed across the street to Don Patron where they had a $1.99 margarita special and good food. Back at the hotel, some of the group mingled at the bar, and Dave, Nathan, Peter, and I closed out the night playing ping pong -- my very first game!

Today's trip was beautiful in many ways. Amazing scenery, a smooth, easy, 44-mile ride, and the opportunity to meet such kind local people who are so excited about what the trail brings to their towns. 

3 comments:

  1. Sarah,
    Love reading the blog... I did the ride 2 years ago and LOVED It! It was quite an accomplishment for me. I'm sure you'll feel the same way. I'll be looking for ya at the party Saturday... I'm driving to Pittsburgh from York, PA tomorrow to be at the celebration Saturday... See ya there!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sarah, Thank you for writing about your adventures!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This reminds me so much of my trip from Connellsville PA to Cumberland MD ... one of the best features of the GAP is the small towns along the trail . . I look forward to this years ride . . .

    http://gonewiththeschwinn.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete