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  1. #1
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    Great Allegheny Passage (Winter detours)

    I am planning a winter traverse of the C&O/GAP trail from DC to Pittsburgh in late December. I know that the Savage Mountain Tunnel outside of Frostburg is typically closed and there is a posted road detour that cuts out about 10 miles of trail. From looking at maps and Google Earth, it looks as though there are a bunch of hiking/jeep trails that traverse the area, and, with a little bit of work, might be a viable option for getting around the closed tunnel. In particular, there appears to be a path straight over the top, and another option to ride south on the Mason Dixon Line and hook up with Old Mt Savage Rd on the top of the ridge line. Has anyone had any experience trying any of these alternates or recommend something else? I'll have an ultralight bike packing setup with a 29er mtn bike and am comfortable with sketchy and difficult terrain, even extended hike-a-bike. For the "integrity of the trip" I'd like to stay on as much of the trail as possible, even it is means more work. I can't be the first person to see these paths any wonder about them? If I am missing any other obvious winter closings, I'd be happy to hear other advice as well. Thanks for any help out there.

  2. #2
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    The Big Savage Tunnel closed on Dec 6th. It will reopen late March or early April 2013.

    There is a trail over Big Savage Mt. As you approach the tunnel from the east, Cumberland, the trail is to the left. It's easy to see. It's steep and rocky, but fairly easy to follow to the nw. Once you get to the summit you'll find that there is a new wind turbine farm on the top. I don't know how much the old trail has changed with the development of the wind farm. However the old trail continues over the top and down the west flank of the mountain ultimately reaching the GAP just north west of the tunnel portal.

    In short, the southeast flank of the up-and-over should be easy. For the northwest flank stay as close to the alignment of the tunnel as possible. Since you have experience with "sketchy" terrain you will have no problem.

    Check Google maps and you'll see the trail to the summit from the southeast. The new wind turbines are not on those maps. From the summit you'll see that there is a fairly straight, and wide path to a farm field. The old path to the portal leads to the right off that wide trail.

    Private property can be a problem in this region, but when you are following the alignment of the tunnel as if the tunnel is directly below you, you are on public land owned by Somerset County, the owner of the trail.

    Be careful of the weather. The wind and snow on the mountain will be very different from even Frostburg on the east or Meyersdale to the west. Snow tends to accumulate in the cut just prior to the northwest portal and can be much deeper than the surrounding area. Once you get past the Eastern Continental Divide just west of the tunnel condition improve.

    Just to let you know, I'm a volunteer with the trail group who helps to maintain the GAP in Somerset Co so I know the trail well.

    Have a great ride.
    paul

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by GranvilleGravel View Post
    If I am missing any other obvious winter closings, I'd be happy to hear other advice as well. Thanks for any help out there.
    I missed this the first time I read your post.

    No, there are no other winter closing along the length of the GAP. However, if you're planning on riding all the way into Pittsburgh remember that the trail now ends in Homestead, PA about 6 miles short of the city.

    There's an easy road detour

    "Leave the Great Allegheny Passage in The Waterfront Shopping area via Amity Street. Turn right onto 7th Ave in Homestead heading toward Pittsburgh. 7th becomes Rt 837/Riverton Street. Yes, it's Rt 837, but it's not the narrow path of that road. Keep going toward Pittsburgh. When you get to the Glenwood Bridge clover-leaf, it's more spagetti than clover, head toward the Glenwood Bridge. Cross the Glenwood Bridge onto 2nd Ave/Rt 885. This goes through the center of Hazelwood. At Hazelwood Ave., turn left, cross the tracks on the street crossing and there is a new trail leading from there into the Hot Metal Bridge.

    This new trail is already on Google Maps.

    At the Hot Metal Bridge you can connect to the trails on Pittsburgh's South Side, or up and over 2nd Ave to the Eliza Furnace (Jail) Trail and into the city.

    The south end of the Glenwood Bridge is a little dicey, but it's much better that Rt 837.
    "

    Again, have a great ride.

    paul

  4. #4
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    Paul -- awesome. This is exactly the local knowledge I was hoping to find. I was also plotting alternatives for the Sandcastle / Homestead area, so this is helpful too. And thank you and your crew for all the good trail work (I'm an active trail maintenance volunteer in my local riding area).
    - Matt

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by GranvilleGravel View Post
    .I was also plotting alternatives for the Sandcastle / Homestead area, so this is helpful too. And thank you and your crew for all the good trail work (I'm an active trail maintenance volunteer in my local riding area).
    - Matt
    Matt

    When you're getting closer to the trip let me know. Trail is being built between Homestead and existing trails in Pittsburgh. This is generally known as the gap in the GAP. It's a missing segment of about 1 mile which goes through Sandcastle Water Park and another property. Work will continue on this segment through the winter. The target date for completion is April. That would be soon enough for you, but before you set out, let me know and I'll let you know if there are any other possibilities.

    paul

  6. #6
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    Paul -- ok, I'll let you know. Oh, and I love your "Uncommon Passage" book!

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the comment about the book. I appreciate that.

    Anything else you need to know about the GAP let me know.

    paul

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