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Youghiogheny Trail/Great Allegheny Passage

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leicrao1:
Hi from the UK

Am cycling LA to NY with my brother in law in summer 2010 and am currently mapping out the route. We plan to cycle the Youghiogheny Trail from West Newton PA to Connelsville PA. However, the web sites I have visited seem unclear about whether you can continue from there to Confluence and then Garrett, Cassellman and Rockwood. We will be on road bikes so cannot deal with particularly rocky or 'demanding' surfaces.

Any advice greatly appreciated.

Richard

JMilyko:
Hi Richard,

I don't know the answer to your question about the Youghiogheny Trail but I wondered if you had seen Pennsylvania Route S. It might be helpful to you in planning your tour.

http://www.dot.state.pa.us/BIKE/WEB/tour_routes.htm

.Jennifer.

cdavey:
Richard --

I rode the GAP two years ago as part of a tour I did. The answer is that the trail is complete from West Newton all the way to its southern terminus at Cumberland MD. That includes the section to Rockwood you mentioned. The surface is crushed limestone for the entire segment you have mentioned. The trail has its own website at www.atatrail.com. It's well maintained and kept up to date. You should be able to answer any questions that you may have there.

Jennifer suggested that you check out PA Bike Route S. While that is a possibility, I would suggest that you evaluate your route through PA with two thoughts in mind since I live in western PA: (1) the Appalachians are more formidable to get across than they appear because their slopes can be steep and secondary road system you would most likely use to cross them was laid before dynamite existed. The roads tend go over the hills not through them. (2) The PA Bike Routes have usually been laid out by an advisory group and their proposed route is then reviewed and approved by the PA Dept of Tranportation (PennDOT). As a result the quality of the route can vary depending upon who laid it out.

While I have never ridden Route S, reading bike journals of people who have used it does suggest it is quite hilly in the west near the Ohio state line and also in the middle where it goes scross the Appalachians. Perhaps you might consider connecting to Route G to go north and then Route V  (US Route 6) to get to New York. I have ridden Route G, and it's a well-thought out route. I have never ridden Route V so I can't offer any advice on it.  The one drawback I see to this routing is that it takes you out of the Appalachians as you go north, but routes you back into them and delays the crossing until later. You can get maps of the various routes at www.dot.state.pa.us. Click for additional links on the left side of the page to get to the bicycle information.

leicrao1:
Many thanks for the advice.

I have been following route S for the most part of the planning process, with a detour from Somerset to Shanksville as a possibility to see the Flight 93 memorial. I have also had a suggestion to do a section of the abandoned turnpike after Breezewood which, apart from looking great fun in itself, also cuts out a couple of particularly difficult climbs (apparently).

I have to bear in mind that we will be 2500 miles into our journey by this point and will not want unnecessary detours, especially as they may only delay some of the climbs rather than avoid them altogether. I am inclined to stick to route S, with the option of taking busier highways for a more direct route if we are in time trouble or are seriously fed up of climbing. I assume that the same logic applies in the US that the busier routes are contoured more gently given that they are designed for freight to use and cannot have excessively severe gradients, whereas some of the quieter back roads are more likely to have the severe climbs.

Many thanks once again.

Richard

aozolins:
I just want to reinforce that the eastern edge of this continent is really tough cycling. In all the mountain ranges you'll have crossed getting here, you probably won't have dealt with the gradients that not only exist but are common here. You won't have grades longer than a mile or two very often; but they will be steep and frequent. If you are off the main roads, those grades will be very steep -- 12% is quite common. I've never been on any of the Pennsylvania bike routes, only on rides on general roads; so I can't know exact challenges. But I find that people often tend to dismiss our eastern terrain as "not real mountains" and regard the whole area as not very big. This is a mistake unless you choose a route wisely.

I realize you probably have reasons for choosing your route. But, if I were a visitor to North America, having crossed this far, I'd stay on the C&O Canal trail into the nation's capital and take a train to New York City if that's a requirement. This would make an easy conclusion to your cycling while routing you into a historically rich region.

AFAIK, drilling straight through to New York is a chore.

Needless to say, this is just imho. Ymmv.

Andrejs
Ithaca, NY

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