May 15, 2017
This spring, Pennsylvania will join the U.S. Bicycle Route System with the designation of U.S. Bicycle Route 50! The route will connect 163 miles from the border of Maryland, through Pittsburgh, to the border of West Virginia, and includes a number of off-highway trails.
Here are five excellent reasons to ride USBR 50 in Pennsylvania.
Once complete, USBR 50 will connect Washington, D.C. to San Francisco with amazing destinations in between. Washington, D.C., Maryland, Ohio, and Indiana have already designated USBR 50, and Ohio has signed the entire route. Imagine, you can ride this route almost 538 miles (a soon-to-be-completed, six-mile gap exists across the panhandle of WV) from downtown D.C., through Pittsburgh to Dayton, Ohio, and on to Indianapolis! See our Maps and Route Resources for more information.
USBR 50, from D.C. to the center of Pittsburgh, is entirely on trails and is car free! In D.C. and Maryland, USBR 50 follows the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath, and at Cumberland, Maryland, seamlessly connects to the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP), which includes the Steel Valley Trail. That’s over 335 miles of non-motorized trails. The route temporarily merges onto some low-traffic streets and roads before jumping onto the Montour Trail and then the Panhandle Trail.
There is so much to see on and off the bike! The route is full of amazing views, historic sites, and recreational activities and attractions. There are railroad trestle bridges, tunnels, rivers, and foliage. Travelers can opt to take a day off and visit Ohiopyle State Park, go river rafting, ride a historic train, or visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater house. Don’t miss the opportunity to take a photo at the Mason Dixon Line, and pump your fist at the highest point on the GAP trail. When you stop in Pittsburgh, take a photo opportunity at Point State Park, and ride up the Duquesne Incline for amazing views of the city.
Pennsylvania’s friendly Trail Towns welcome cycling visitors! The Allegheny Trail Alliance took the model developed by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Trail Towns and morphed it into a full-fledged program for the GAP. Today, visitors reap the benefits of having directional signs, information kiosks, bike parking, bike art, connector trails into gateway communities, and friendly tourism officials that welcome bicycle travelers to the region.
USBR 50 through Pennsylvania is great for families, friends, couples, solo riders, hard-core cyclists, and beginners. Because it is almost entirely on trails, the route provides an opportunity for people to ride at their own pace without having to worry about traffic. It also connects to Amtrak’s Capitol Limited line, which provides carry-on bicycle service. Numerous small towns provide accommodations and food at easy to reach intervals. You can get there via DC or Pittsburgh — both are major transportation hubs for visitors from across the globe. Bike shops, shuttle options, and bike tours, both self-guided and supported, are plentiful. For these reasons, USBR 50 is extremely accessible to cyclists at all levels.
So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to start planning your trip on USBR 50!
Photos 1, 2, 4, 12 Sharon Gill and Randy Jackson | Photo 3, 5, 7, 8, 9 Saara Snow | Photo 6 Michele Hedrick | Photo 10 Doug Riegner | Photo 11 Cycle Forward | Photo 13 by Susan Scarpelli
BUILDING THE U.S. BICYCLE ROUTE SYSTEM is posted by Laura Crawford and Ginny Sullivan of the Travel Initiatives Department and focuses on the growth of the U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS), a developing national network of bicycle travel routes. For more USBRS updates, sign up for the quarterly eNews.