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Planning a Tour on the GAP...

Old 07-28-16, 09:51 PM
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Planning a Tour on the GAP...

And I have most of it figured out. I am going to drive to Cumberland, MD and ride to Pittsburgh, either camping or staying inexpensively along the way. I plan on taking the Capitol Limited back to Cumberland. My problem is that the train leaves Pittsburgh at 5:20 AM, and the hotels close to the train station are way mire expensive than I would really like to pay. If I have to, I will just suck it up and pay the higher room rate, but I am hoping that someone here can offer a different solution to getting my gear and I from whatever hotel to the train station.
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Old 07-29-16, 06:12 AM
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Ride early in the a.m.? Or just open your wallet for the sake of convenience. Have you looked at rates in other places? How much would you save by staying miles away? BTW...Make sure to make a reservation. I hear the bike slots are quite popular.
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Old 07-29-16, 07:16 AM
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Originally Posted by CanoeU92
And I have most of it figured out. I am going to drive to Cumberland, MD and ride to Pittsburgh, either camping or staying inexpensively along the way. I plan on taking the Capitol Limited back to Cumberland. My problem is that the train leaves Pittsburgh at 5:20 AM, and the hotels close to the train station are way mire expensive than I would really like to pay. If I have to, I will just suck it up and pay the higher room rate, but I am hoping that someone here can offer a different solution to getting my gear and I from whatever hotel to the train station.
Hotels on the North Shore may be cheaper while keeping you close to the train station. There are hotels in the South Side and Oakland as well.

Edit, not sure if they'll accommodate bikes...

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g53449-d115504-Reviews-The_Priory_Hotel-Pittsburgh_Pennsylvania.html

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Old 07-29-16, 08:20 AM
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Airbnb
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Old 07-29-16, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by alan s
Airbnb
+1 or look on warmshowers.org

Last edited by BigAura; 07-29-16 at 10:22 AM.
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Old 07-29-16, 10:45 AM
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With Amtrak because of the train schedule it is logistically easier to ride from Pittsburgh to Cumberland. When i was planning my trip year before last (I didn't go) I worked out that the train gets you to Pittsburgh around 11:30pm ( assuming it isn't late) and you can get a bus(#36 Banksville) that crosses to the south side and brings you to several chain motels. Days Inn, Motel 6 and Comfort Inn. The next morning would be a 4-5 mile ride to connect to the GAP trail. My alternate plan and the one I ultimately will do is rent a car in Washington DC, drive it and my bike to Pittsburgh to a downtown dropoff ( currently $82 Budget Rental)

For your trip I see that Enterprise has a rental location in Cumberland with a pickup near the Amtrak station in Pittsburgh and another near the GAP trail as it passes through Homestead . Cost looks to be about $80 for a small car. Driving time back to Cumberland is about 2 1/2 hours. The car rental is $50 more than the train but you won't need an overnight hotel stay and IMO much less hassle. Bring a throw-away blanket or use your sleeping bag to keep the rental car from scratching your bike BTW The last free campsite on the GAP, Dravo is only 25 miles from downtown.

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Old 07-29-16, 11:24 AM
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Avis also has a one-way drop off on the edge of the Oakland section of the city. From there, it's nearly all down hill to the Point. When I did the GAP as part of a cross-PA tour, I rented in Philly and dropped the car off there, although I did stay over when I first got there so I could have dinner with an old friend.


Still, for the sake of convenience I would simply get a room at one of the hotels on Smallman St.
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Old 07-29-16, 11:36 AM
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Isn't the best part of that trail on the Williamsport side of Cumberland?
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Old 07-29-16, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by deapee
Isn't the best part of that trail on the Williamsport side of Cumberland?
I think you are confusing the C&O Canal towpath with the GAP. They both start/end in Cumberland. The GAP goes to Pittsburgh and the C&O goes to Washington, DC. One is a rail trail and the other is a canal towpath. And yes, IMO, the towpath, which passes through Williamsport, is the better part. Hope that helps.
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Old 07-29-16, 02:27 PM
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You will have no issues riding in the downtown area at night / early morning. Just stick to the main streets and do not take the bike path.

There are a few warmshowers nearby but I think the closest is south side where there will be more affordable hotels.

Buses might be running that early but it is really not all that far to town from the hotels in south side. Bus will mainly run down East Carson from south side into town.

Port Authority of Allegheny County > Home

Let me know what lodging you choose and I can recommend a route.

There are hotels right near the station. Might be your best bet that early. If you come in on a weekend, I am around and you have the time, I can show you around.

You should really try to see Bicycle Heaven if you see nothing else. .
https://www.bicycleheaven.org/
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Old 07-29-16, 02:28 PM
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[QUOTE=indyfabz;18947003]Avis also has a one-way drop off on the edge of the Oakland section of the city. From there, it's nearly all down hill to the Point. When I did the GAP as part of a cross-PA tour, I rented in Philly and dropped the car off there, although I did stay over when I first got there so I could have dinner with an old friend.


But OP would need to get to Oakland. All up hill from the GAP.

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Old 07-29-16, 03:24 PM
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OT, Hey Spinnaker, Did they ever complete the Montour trail? Last time I was in Pitt (2013) there was some pretty big gaps that detoured on some busy roads between Library and Clairton.
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Old 07-29-16, 03:38 PM
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The Montour is pretty much complete from Library to Coraopolis. You cross a total of maybe two roads. Rest has been filled in with bridges. There is a new trestle in Library that crosses Route 88 and they are extending the trail south of the trestle this summer. There will still be a lot of stuck together road and trail south of that to Glassport.

Which was going to be a suggestion to the OP. Add a day and take the Montour Trail to the airport and rent a car.

Montour Trail

You would miss the city but some of the Montour rivals much of the GAP. It really is a beautiful trail.

An option would be to ride to the city, take the light rail to Library then ride to the airport. But for that to work, you would need to arrive in city early to be able to tour around and get to the airport.

There is camping on the Montour. One site is at Boggs just before the trail turns off to the airport.
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Old 07-29-16, 06:58 PM
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RE: Enterprise rental car in Cumberland: Don't use them! I rode the GAP a few weeks ago, and had reserved a car (last minute, same day) via the Web app, one-way from Cumberland to PGH (I left my car in Cumberland long-term parking). When I showed up to pick it up at 5:00 p.m., the counter guy told me "We won't have any cars for a day or two." We discussed the concept of a reservation, but he wasn't budging (if he wasn't so young I would have mentioned the relevant Seinfeld episode...). Thankfully I was able to get a last-minute reservation on AMTRAK, including my bike, but that was very lucky (it was a Thursday night). Otherwise I would have been riding Cumberland-PGH instead.

RE: AMTRAK: the new roll-on service is very nice, and the entire process was seamless. Conductors were super-helpful and friendly. I was very impressed. The train didn't get in to PGH until around 1:00 am, but that was because of a medical emergency that delayed it en route from DC to Cumberland. Hint: at Cumberland station, the bike car stops near the big sign that is to the right of the waiting room (when facing the tracks). Just wait there and the conductor will direct you to the correct car. Don't be like us and run down the length of the train, only to have to turn around and run back. From what the conductor said, it sounds like this is the normal place for the bike car. See attached photos for some idea of the bike car setup (sorry for the dark iPhone pics, there wasn't much light). In Cumberland you will have to lift the bike up to the baggage car, while at PGH the door is almost level with the platform (see photo below).

RE: Hotels around the station. The cheapest I was able to find on a Thursday night was around $125. But then another biker taking the train said to try Hotwire, and I scored a very nice room at the Sheraton right on the river for $65! Sweet deal, and they were very biker friendly. See my Tripadvisor review for more info, complete with photos of my bike in the room (they encouraged me to take it up to the room, which was great). The ride to the hotel was very easy from the station, and not "scary" at all, even at 1:15 a.m. I was lucky that there were two other bikers also headed there, two bikers returning to their car after riding the trail, and a local who was returning from his GAP-C&O ride on the train basically led us almost right to the hotel. So we had a nice little peloton of six loaded bikes riding through PGH at 1:00 a.m.! But even if I had to do it myself it would have been fine. Just take a blinky light for your bike and ride smart.
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Old 07-29-16, 09:42 PM
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Great information Briwasson!
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Old 07-30-16, 04:17 AM
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[QUOTE=spinnaker;18947435]
Originally Posted by indyfabz
Avis also has a one-way drop off on the edge of the Oakland section of the city. From there, it's nearly all down hill to the Point. When I did the GAP as part of a cross-PA tour, I rented in Philly and dropped the car off there, although I did stay over when I first got there so I could have dinner with an old friend.


But OP would need to get to Oakland. All up hill from the GAP.
My suggestion was building on the earlier one that he start in PGH. Drive the car up, drop it off and ride down.
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Old 07-30-16, 01:35 PM
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[QUOTE=indyfabz;18948242]
Originally Posted by spinnaker

My suggestion was building on the earlier one that he start in PGH. Drive the car up, drop it off and ride down.
Hertz and Enterprise both have locations in downtown PGH, not too far from the point. Do a one-way, stay outside the city in a cheaper motel, then drop the car off as soon as they open in the morning and start your ride (that was my plan for my recent trip).

Of course, see my earlier comment on Enterprise not having the car I reserved. This probably wouldn't be a problem in a bigger town with multiple car rental agencies. In Cumberland, Enterprise is pretty much it for the national car rental brands. There used to be a super-convenient Hertz location about a 1/4 mile from Canal Placed (where the Gap/C&O start in Cumberland), but unfortunately it's no longer there. I used it a few times to both drop-off and rent, and it was great.

One-way car rentals can be surprisingly affordable. My Cumberland-PGH rental (one day) would have been $85 total, including drop fee. You can fit a bike in pretty much any of the rental cars, even the compacts, by putting the rear seat down. With two people it would be cost effective, since the train costs $50-60 including bike from Cumberland to PGH.
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Old 07-30-16, 03:32 PM
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BF members are always welcome to stay at my place. I live about 10 miles from the airport where you can drop a rental. There is a bike trail from the airport to the Montour trail. The trail head is only about a mile away. A lot closer if you ar whiling to cut trough the woods and a neighbors yard and up the side of a steep hill. The road is a bit steep too but not too bad. But I have run the car to the bottom and picked up people at the trail head before. I also about 10 miles from town.
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Old 08-03-16, 06:36 AM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
The Montour is pretty much complete from Library to Coraopolis. You cross a total of maybe two roads. Rest has been filled in with bridges. There is a new trestle in Library that crosses Route 88 and they are extending the trail south of the trestle this summer. There will still be a lot of stuck together road and trail south of that to Glassport.

Which was going to be a suggestion to the OP. Add a day and take the Montour Trail to the airport and rent a car.

Montour Trail

You would miss the city but some of the Montour rivals much of the GAP. It really is a beautiful trail.

An option would be to ride to the city, take the light rail to Library then ride to the airport. But for that to work, you would need to arrive in city early to be able to tour around and get to the airport.

There is camping on the Montour. One site is at Boggs just before the trail turns off to the airport.
I hope the OP does not mind me stealing this thread for a quick Q. Is the connection from the GAP to Montour easy to find? I hope to ride the GAP and Montour this week. I'll look at your links as well. Also are the missing section on the Montour well mapped out or do I need to bring maps?
thanks
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Old 08-03-16, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by balto charlie
I hope the OP does not mind me stealing this thread for a quick Q. Is the connection from the GAP to Montour easy to find? I hope to ride the GAP and Montour this week. I'll look at your links as well. Also are the missing section on the Montour well mapped out or do I need to bring maps?
thanks

You really should start your own thread.

It depends on which direction you are going. For some reason toward the GAP is seems easier to me.

Here are the maps they have on he trail. It is a bit outdated since the trestle is now complete.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0Bw...EVNdUlNcnhCclU
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0Bw...kl3bDR0eXNaZEE


At Oak Road and 51, you will see the old Large Hotel on your left. On your right is a school. Do not cross 51 at that point. Cut through the school grounds and into the parking lot of the business next door. You can cross here where there is a traffic light.

When you get to the 5th Ave Bridge just outside of Mckeesport, do not cross. Instead take River Rd to the GAP. You will just be crossing back again anyway.

If I am around and have the day off, I might be able to meet you somewhere on the trail and guide you through. PM me.


At alternate plan would be to take the light rail into the city at Library. The stations are just off of Route 88. Ask for "The T" , is what we call it here. You would miss the ride along Peters Creek which is really fantastic for the amount of wildlife so close to the city. I have seen tons of turtles and lots of cranes. Others have seen river otters. But other that that you will still have seen the best that the Montour has to offer.

Last edited by spinnaker; 08-03-16 at 05:46 PM.
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Old 08-11-16, 05:05 AM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
You really should start your own thread.

It depends on which direction you are going. For some reason toward the GAP is seems easier to me.......
A belated thank you. I printed out your maps Thursday morn last week just before I pulled off. I rode the GAP from Frostburg to Pittsburgh(and back) and did not do the Montour. I only had 4 days and many cyclists said the best of the Montour was the west and north west areas. I did not have the time to go that far west/north so rode into Pittsburgh. First time doing that so it was great.
You're right I should have started my own thread but was trying to be quick about things. My trip was very last minute. I hope to write up a short trip report. Next time i am up there I'll drop you a line and be a tad bit more organized. I really liked biking in Pitts. I got lost a couple of times but did find Fat Heads Brewpub I stayed at the new McKeesport Hostel, clean, nice location, inexpensive and I was their 2nd guest. This is going to be a great asset to the trail for folks wanting to visit downtown Pitts.
Thanks again for your help, I will use the maps next time I ride there. Great trail!
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Old 08-11-16, 06:16 AM
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Originally Posted by CanoeU92
And I have most of it figured out. I am going to drive to Cumberland, MD and ride to Pittsburgh, either camping or staying inexpensively along the way. I plan on taking the Capitol Limited back to Cumberland. My problem is that the train leaves Pittsburgh at 5:20 AM, and the hotels close to the train station are way mire expensive than I would really like to pay. If I have to, I will just suck it up and pay the higher room rate, but I am hoping that someone here can offer a different solution to getting my gear and I from whatever hotel to the train station.
In my planning for our CC tour on the GAP I found that hotels are scarce along the route (Ohiopyle had a small hotel), mainly B&Bs and only in some of the towns. I had reservations for every night and each B&B was full, so you might want to consider that in your planning or you might have to camp every night.

As for the train back, have you considered one of the shuttle services along the GAP? I know there were several out of Cumberland when we rode that would take you and your bike in either direction, that could save you a hotel stay and better fit your schedule.
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Old 08-15-16, 06:06 PM
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I also think a shuttle service could be the best option, some have spaces for bicycles, and will get you there faster.
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Old 08-16-16, 03:04 AM
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According to reports, the shuttle services are very expensive.

BTW...Haven't posted this in a while. It's the Capitol Limited passing through Rockwood across the river from Husky Haven campground. Turn your speakers up to get the realistic effect.


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Old 08-16-16, 06:44 AM
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Originally Posted by DCwom
In my planning for our CC tour on the GAP I found that hotels are scarce along the route (Ohiopyle had a small hotel), mainly B&Bs and only in some of the towns. I had reservations for every night and each B&B was full, so you might want to consider that in your planning or you might have to camp every night.

As for the train back, have you considered one of the shuttle services along the GAP? I know there were several out of Cumberland when we rode that would take you and your bike in either direction, that could save you a hotel stay and better fit your schedule.


Trail Inn in Frostburg, Md is a great place to stay. Nice, clean hotel, bunkhouse, showers, and campground. Great fried chicken. They also run a shuttle service including bikes.

Trail Connection in Cumberland runs shuttles, as do others...
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