When most people think or begin to research a visit to Ohiopyle and the Laurel Highlands, biking is not typically the first activity that comes to mind. In the summer, it’s a top whitewater destination with miles of hiking trails and things to do in Ohiopyle. Skiing and snowboarding become popular activities during the winter months at nearby Seven Springs Mountain Resort. But there are some great Ohiopyle bike trail rides to spice up your visit, get some exercise, and see some beautiful scenes.
What if You Can’t Bring Your Own Bike?
Never fear! There are plenty of rental options in the area. The following list includes several local businesses that offer rentals for bikes of all types and sizes. It’s always better to reserve ahead of time to ensure you don’t miss out on any fun activities in your plans!
Bike rentals can be obtained through local outfitters including:
You can even rent e-bikes if you’re not quite up to pedaling long distances.
Ohiopyle Bike Trail Options
Whether you’re looking for a leisurely ride mostly on crushed stone surfaces or a thrilling descent on a singletrack mountain bike trail, there are some great bike trail options local to Ohiopyle.
The popular GAP trail through Ohiopyle State Park and surrounding areas is a former rail trail. You can even ride right past the historic train station in town.
Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) Trail
The Youghiogheny River Trail section is part of the GAP trail through the Ohiopyle area. This includes a 27-mile stretch of trail. The entire trail is 150 miles long, and it travels from Pittsburgh, PA to Cumberland, MD.
Many bikers use this route on their journey from Pittsburgh to Washington DC!
The GAP trail has many different sections with varying terrain and difficulty levels, but historically, it was a rail bed. This means that the average grade over the entire trail is less than 1%. This was to accommodate trains in the past, but now it makes for quite a leisurely bike ride.
There are also multiple access points along the way where you can stop at various places to rest and enjoy views of the river valley.
A few highlights include:
- A section of the trail that runs alongside the Youghiogheny River
- A long bridge across the Youghiogheny River from the town of Ohiopyle to the Ferncliff Peninsula
- Several small towns along the way, including Ohiopyle
- Scenic overlooks
- Hidden waterfalls
- Incredible scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities
If you prefer more challenging riding, then you’ll want to check out the mountain biking trails in the Laurel Highlands. These are single-track mountain bike trails that have been groomed by experienced riders who know what they’re doing. They are designed for technical downhill racing and freeride riding.
You may be able to find these trails near Ohiopyle. If not, there are other areas nearby such as the South Park Trails in the Bigler State Forest.
Road Riding in the Laurel Highlands
While the GAP Trail is off-limits to motorized vehicles, there are still plenty of roads that allow cars to travel through the region.
Some of these roads are paved, while others are gravel. They all can make great road cycling routes, though.
Some of the best road-riding routes can be found in the southern portion of the Laurel Highlands. Here, you will find scenic vistas, rolling hills, and quiet country roads.
This is a good activity for more experienced cyclers. you’ll certainly get a workout navigating the hilly terrain.
If you’d like to join a guided ride with a group, check out the Laurel Highlands on and off-road bicycling association (LHORBA). They welcome others to their scheduled rides Weekly during the summer.
Points of Interest Along the Trails in Ohiopyle
Points of interest near Ohiopyle along the GAP trail include the Youghiogheny River and the Laurel Hill Creek near Confluence at mile 62.2. You could also ride over the Pinkerton low and high bridges near Confluence at mile 52.1. The Ohiopyle low and high bridges near Ohiopyle can be found at mile 72.0.
Pinkerton tunnel is near Confluence at mile 51.9.
While you’re in Ohiopyle, take a short detour hike off of the GAP trail to check out Ohiopyle Falls and Cucumber Falls, two of the larger waterfalls in Ohiopyle State Park.
A little further off the GAP trail, but worth visiting while near Ohiopyle, are Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob. The famous Frank Lloyd Wright houses are both feats incorporating natural landscape into the construction of these homes, and they are both beautiful sites to tour.
Where to Access the Trails
There are plenty of access points for trails including the GAP trail. These include:
- Ramcat: MM 63.3
- Confluence: MM 61.6
- Ohiopyle: MM 71.9
- Connellsville: MM 88.8
FAQs: Riding the GAP
In Which Direction Should I Ride on the GAP Trail?
When riding on the GAP trail, there is a slight elevation change, overall, so that the trail is slightly uphill when heading toward Maryland. The grade is not really even noticeable.
There is no real best way to ride the GAP. Most rides will be an out-and-back style route, so you’ll end up experiencing the trail from both directions.
When riding the GAP trail from beginning to end, typically it is done starting in Pittsburgh and ending in Cumberland, MD.
Pick a convenient access point for parking and just get out on the trail.
How Hilly is the GAP Trail?
The good news: It’s not! The Great Allegheny Passage trail was once home to a railway. So, the trail follows the old railroad right-of-way. That means the trail is relatively flat and easy to navigate.
However, the trail does have some inclines and declines. The average grade of railroads is 1%, so while some areas may be a little more, others will be less.
The last 24 miles approaching Cumberland, MD, have more elevation change, with a downhill as you enter the town. That’s why most people do not begin their ride here! The elevation gain at the very beginning of the ride can be intimidating.
The vast majority of the trail surface is packed and crushed stone, so it is not a strenuous ride. Travel a couple of miles or a dozen. With such a distance, you can really choose your own adventure on the GAP trail.
When is the Best Time of Year to Ride the GAP?
While the GAP trail is accessible and open to visitors all year round, some times of the year will certainly be more pleasant than others.
Winter months tend to be cold, wet, and snowy. While these conditions aren’t ideal for biking, they do provide an opportunity to see the beautiful winter foliage of the surrounding trees. Cross-country skiing or hiking is possible on the trail when conditions are not appropriate for a bike ride.
Springtime brings warmer temperatures and blooming flowers. The water levels are typically higher, making the waterfalls more of an impressive sight to see. The trail can be wet but isn’t typically muddy or impassable.
Fall is another popular season for riding and exploring the GAP near Ohiopyle because of its gorgeous colors. Although temperatures are a little cooler, a bike ride can still be very enjoyable during this time of year.
Summer is hot, humid, and sunny. Water levels in the waterways and waterfalls will be lower, so sometimes they aren’t as impressive. Weather will most likely be best earlier in the mornings and later in the evenings.
Best Trail Towns Along the GAP
While there are many trail towns along the GAP, the three main trail towns in this area are Connellsville, Ohiopyle, and Confluence.
The Ohiopyle to Confluence route is quite popular, ending in just over 20 miles round-trip.
Traveling to Connellsville and back is further, so you will need to be more physically prepared for that route. It’s about 34 miles round trip!
Other great trail towns along the gap trail include downtown Pittsburgh, The Southside district of Pittsburgh, Frostburg, Maryland, and Cumberland, Maryland. Cumberland, Maryland is known as Mile Zero.
The best option for shuttles in Ohiopyle is Wilderness Voyagers. They also provide rentals if you want to travel one way.
The Sunshine Luggage Shuttle is based out of Confluence and will transport baggage to make your bike ride more comfortable. While they don’t really transport people, this can be a great way to try out a longer-distance bike route without investing in a bunch of bike-packing equipment.
2 Wheel Escapes offers trip planning, shuttles, and gear transport services along the GAP.
Overall, the bike trails around Ohiopyle are a great way to explore the beauty of Pennsylvania and surrounding states like Maryland on two wheels. With options for long-distance rides, mountain biking fun, and shuttle services available, there’s something for everyone.
Whether you’re looking for a leisurely ride or an adrenaline-filled adventure, there is an Ohiopyle bike trail that has it all!