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Great Allegheny Passage Trail Options for rides and keeping expenses low.

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Great Allegheny Passage Trail Options for rides and keeping expenses low.

Old 08-07-18, 08:54 PM
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Great Allegheny Passage Trail Options for rides and keeping expenses low.

I'm looking at regularly scheduling rides on GAP for some meetup groups. I'd like to avoid requiring shuttles because I can't be sure how many people will show up. So I'm looking at places where long term parking is cheap or free, there is an option of a shuttle via amtrak or something regularly scheduled, lots of choices in inexpensive accommodations. So I'm looking at using Harpers Ferry and Connelsville Pa as my hubs. The three main trips I'd looking at are

1. Harpers Ferry to Wash DC and back. 60miles each way, with a 2 or 3 day stay in Wash DC using AirBnb. , total trip 5-6 days. there are lots of country roads to explore between Harpers Ferry and Leesburg.

2. Harpers Ferry to Connellsville and back, 200 mile each way, 6-8 days or take amtrak for return.

3. Connellsville to Pittsburgh , 60 miles each way with 2 or 3 day stay in Pittsburgh using AirBnb, total trip 5-6 days.


Harpers Ferry has a really flexible parking option, up to 2 weeks at a long term lot at the National Park there. Since the GAP and Appalachian trail go through there there is lots of infrastructure there.

Not sure about long term parking options at Connellsville, hopefully its possible to park multiple days at the train station. would prefer something free but legal. Connellsville is nice because its has cheap or free camping nearby and a train station.
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Old 08-08-18, 04:41 AM
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I looked into this a bit last year. There are 10 long term parking spots at the Connelsville Amtrak station. It didn't look like there was a parking fee, but I didn't verify that.

For day trips (Confluence to Ohiopyle) we left cars at Yough River Park in 2 different locations. The one just upstream of the 119 bridge was behind a gate, I don't think you could do multiday parking. Just downstream of the bridge is another parking area that is all on street - I didn't notice any time restriction signs. there, just parked there last week.

There is also now a hotel just upstream of the 119 bridge, Cobblestone Suites - you might be able to ask them if OK to leave cars there for a few nights.

I've never had much success calling local Police Departments to ask about OK places to leave cars, but others seem to have better luck.
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Old 08-08-18, 05:02 AM
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Is there no free street parking in a place like Connellsville?
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Old 08-08-18, 05:25 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
Is there no free street parking in a place like Connellsville?
we are looking at having up to 10 vehicles and we'd like to park together. we would like to find a place thats legit to park in Connellsville at for as long as a week or two just like Harpers ferry.
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Old 08-08-18, 06:29 AM
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Originally Posted by jpescatore
I looked into this a bit last year. There are 10 long term parking spots at the Connelsville Amtrak station. It didn't look like there was a parking fee, but I didn't verify that.

For day trips (Confluence to Ohiopyle) we left cars at Yough River Park in 2 different locations. The one just upstream of the 119 bridge was behind a gate, I don't think you could do multiday parking. Just downstream of the bridge is another parking area that is all on street - I didn't notice any time restriction signs. there, just parked there last week.

There is also now a hotel just upstream of the 119 bridge, Cobblestone Suites - you might be able to ask them if OK to leave cars there for a few nights.

I've never had much success calling local Police Departments to ask about OK places to leave cars, but others seem to have better luck.
I found this list: parking shuttles and trains along the Great Allegheny passage
Some of the lots seem rather sketchy. If you know anything about those locations, would like to hear.
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Old 08-08-18, 06:41 AM
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The shopping center right by the Adirondack shelters? There is a row of out of the way spaces that fronts PA 201. Though you'd likely have to get in touch with the owner/property manager. There is a larger shopping center with a Walmart just south of town. You'd have to ride a bit on U.S. 119 to get trail access.
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Old 08-08-18, 06:53 AM
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The location in Connellsville doesn't look sketchy. It's right next to the new Cobblestone Hotel mentioned above. But note that the list of parking areas doesn't disclose whether long term parking is allowed. The place in Connellsville appears to be for access to both the GAP and Yough River Park. Possible that no overnight parking is permitted. There is a phone number for visitors to the town to call with questions:

https://www.connellsville.us/visitors

Here is another link with a phone number and extension:

https://www.connellsville.us/bike-trail
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Old 08-08-18, 06:55 AM
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3rd and Torrance Ave in Connellsville is that street parking outside the downstream end of Yough River Park I mentioned that we used but not overnight.
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Old 08-08-18, 08:46 AM
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There is actually a fairly large parking lot at that location. You can see it on Google Maps Street View.
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Old 08-08-18, 09:55 AM
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Cumberland has free long term parking under the highway.
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Old 08-08-18, 10:56 AM
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Also, you may not be aware the GAP ends in Cumberland. So a trip from Harper’s Ferry to DC would not be on the GAP, unless you take a circuitous route.
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Old 08-08-18, 12:18 PM
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Are you quoting R/T times? At the very best both of those distances are a 1.5 days. 2 days at the outside. Right there is part of your cost problem

Or is it simply you can't ride those distances in 1.5 to 2 days? Which is fine. But if you could cut the days then that is going to cut your overall costs.

BTW another option is to park at the police station in Mckeesport. You can do so for free. But it would take Amtrak out as an option on return unless you rode back to Mckeesport or took the bus.
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Old 08-08-18, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
Are you quoting R/T times? At the very best both of those distances are a 1.5 days. 2 days at the outside. Right there is part of your cost problem

Or is it simply you can't ride those distances in 1.5 to 2 days? Which is fine. But if you could cut the days then that is going to cut your overall costs.

BTW another option is to park at the police station in Mckeesport. You can do so for free. But it would take Amtrak out as an option on return unless you rode back to Mckeesport or took the bus.
all distances are one way.
Part of the problem is we are arriving from several hours away, coming independently in cars. For the DC trip, I'd like to find a campsite about halfway between Harpers Ferry and DC and arrive there about dark. Then set out for DC in the morning and arrive in the afternoon to an Airbnb and ditch some equipment so we can ride lighter in the city. So the first day is a 3-4hour car travel day + 30mile bike ride.

A ride from Harpers Ferry to Connellsville is pretty flexible.

Ride from Connellsville to Pittsburgh is up is theoretical at this point. I'd be surprised if McKeesport police station would like several cars parked there for several days.
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Old 08-08-18, 02:06 PM
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It would not hurt to give the police a call and ask. They seem pretty accommodating.

If you want to risk it, the parking lot in Boston is HUGE. Having that many people the local police might send an extra patrol or two through the parking lot. Not sure who has jurisdiction there. There is camping just down the trail ar Dravo or a bit further at Ceder Creek,

Not sure if I would want to camp on the C&O. Way too many bugs.

DC has a hostel btw. So does Harpers Ferry. In fact two. One outside of town and one in town (actually more of a guest house with dorms). Another way to save money.
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Old 08-08-18, 02:37 PM
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I just got back from riding the GAP from PGH to Cumberland with my 13-year-old son. Plenty of free long-term parking in Cumberland under the highway bridge. I've parked there twice before when I've ridden the GAP, with no issues. I was told that police regularly patrol it. Drove out from the Philly area late afternoon on Friday, hopped Amtrak to Pittsburgh, and then rode back to Cumberland by Monday afternoon. Amtrak is great, but takes forever (4.5 hours + from Cumberland to Pittsburgh) and may not be flexible for you, as you do need to pre-book the bike spots if you want to be assured of a space. With a larger group I'd think a private shuttle would be cost-effective, efficient, and the least stress. Cumberland Outfitters offers a shuttle, and I think the bike shop in Hancock, Md., does, too.

In Connellsville I've stayed twice "up the hill" at the Melody Motor Inn. They are under new(ish) ownership and the person I dealt with there this weekend was very nice. I bet they'd consider letting you park a number of cars there if you stay your first or last night there, too. It's about 1.5 miles off the trail, not too bad of a ride. The motel is basic, but clean and they seem to be fixing it up, too.

The hostel in Rockwood would be good for a group, as it has plenty of bunks, as well as two private rooms with bunk beds.

For parking in Cumberland, beware of the birds that nest above in the highway trusses! Here's what my car looked like when I got back on Monday :-(
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