Did you know that you can bike all the way from Montgomery County to Downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania without ever leaving a Bike Trail?

Originally published in October 2020, by Tom Merritt
By using both the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Trail (C&O Canal), as well as the Great Allegheny Passage Rail-Trail (dubbed “America’s Friendliest Long-Distance Rail-Trail”), you can bike all the way from the Southernmost point in Montgomery County all the way to the Steel City without ever needing to bike on a road. The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Trail starts in Georgetown and follows the Potomac River to Cumberland, Maryland. Then the Great Allegheny Passage Rail-Trail goes the rest of the way from Cumberland, making its way past the Mason-Dixon Line, through the Appalachian Mountains and finishing up in Downtown Pittsburgh.

The Great Allegheny Passage Rail-Trail is 150 Miles, while the C&O Canal is 184.5 Miles making for a total distance of 334.5 Miles from DC to Pittsburgh. Trail etiquette and safety tips below courtesy of Montgomery Parks:
Trail Etiquette: Trails are shared recreation amenities and are accessed by a variety of users at the same time. Please be courteous to all users, and remember that pedestrians have the right-of-way.

  • Use caution or avoid trails during rain, high winds, and other inclement weather.
  • Avoid natural surface trails for 24 hours after a rain event.
  • Cyclists are encouraged to wear helmets.
  • STOP at stop signs, they indicate dangerous cross-car traffic.
  • E-bikes and e-scooters are permitted on hard surface trails (see Parks Directive) except where prohibited and should adhere to posted trail speed limits and operate at a reasonable speed.
  • Remember that pedestrians have the right-of-way. All trail users should stay to the right on the trail. Bicyclists approaching pedestrians should make an advanced noise using voice, bell or horn, and should pull off the trail when stopping to avoid possible accidents.
  • Pets should be kept on a short leash, and owners must clean up after their pets.
  • Bicyclists must keep a safe, reasonable speed and adhere to trail speed limits. Adjust speed to trail congestion and surface conditions.
  • Trails are available for use from sunrise to sunset each day unless noted otherwise.
  • Respect, communication, and courtesy go a long way in helping everyone enjoy the trail safely.

Safety Tips

  • Never use the trails alone and always let someone know where you are going.
  • Wear reflective material and carry a whistle or noisemaker.
  • Be very observant of your surroundings and of other people. Avoid areas where visibility is poor and don’t wear headsets.
  • Carry personal identification and a cell phone if possible.
  • Park in well-lit, heavily traveled areas if possible.
  • Don’t leave valuable items in plain view inside of your car. Leave them at home or lock them in your trunk prior to arriving at your destination.
  • When you approach your car, have your key ready and check the floor and the back seats before you get in.
  • Program the Park Police number 301-949-8010 into your cell phone before you leave. In the event of an emergency, call 911.

Images from Britannica and Discovery Bicycle Tours


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