Riding the Great Allegheny Passage Trail

I have been riding the sections of the Great Allegheny Passage ( GAP Trail) that are in and near Pittsburgh Pennsylvania for the past several years on my 29er and 26er. For those of you that are not familiar with the trail I’m referring to it is a 150 mile converted rail trail running from downtown Pittsburgh Pennsylvania through beautiful western Pennsylvania to Cumberland Maryland. I intend to ride a large portion of the trail in sections throughout next spring and summer on my unicycle and I am planning a ride of the whole 150 on a bike with a friend in early Sept 2021.
With all that being said I’m just wondering if anyone out there has ridden this trail or sections of it on a unicycle? I searched the forum and found a post of a well planned but failed attempted ride. I would be interested to hear anybody’s insights about their experience on the GAP TRAIL. I think it’s imortant to mention that my rides are all day trips and I am not unipacking.

Side note on this for USA readers: https://www.railstotrails.org/ is an organization dedicated to converting old railroads to trails for walking and riding. I support them. Go to their web site for info on many trails around the USA.

Thanks for your reply. I have done google and youtube searches trying to link unicycle riding to the GAP trail as well as tjhe rails to trails system nationwide and am coming up with next to nothing. There are hundreds and hundreds of posts and videos on single track muni riding, trials and long distance road riding adventures but nothing about unicycling our great rails to trails system.

After road riding for several years holding on for dear life as distracted drivers wizzed passed, I retreated to my local bike trails. Taking advantage of Pittsburgh’s heritage trail system which ties into the Great Allegheny Passage I have been provide a safe and scenic place to ride. My joy in riding is being outside enjoying the views around me while being focused and in tune with my mind and body controlling my unicycle.

As far as I know, the only person I know who unicycled the GAP trail would be Cary Gray when he was riding across the U.S. There should be some pictures on his site of him doing so, or at least beside the Eastern Continental Divide so I’m assuming he rode this route.

A few people I know of, including myself, have ridden on the C&O canal path via unicycle which I believe practically connects to the GAP trail. I attached a link to an post about a DC based unicycler who rode the entire C&O back in 2016. From what I have read and heard, it seems the C&O is a bit more shoddy condition-wise than the GAP trail but with distance wise and riding off road this seems to be the best comparison of information we do have.

Hopefully this helps. If you’re just planning on doing day trips and no uni-packing I definitely think it would be possible. Would also allow you to ride a bit quicker and a bit more balanced without having to worry about gear swinging around.

That is an awesome ride story and presisely the the type I’ve been searching for. I am surprised I was not able to find that in my search. Thank you very much.

I was the one who posted about my 185 mile ride on the C&O canal in 2016. I completed the ride again in October 2020, and once again, it was an amazing experience.

The condition of the C&O canal tow path seemed to be a little better during my 2020 ride than during my 2016 ride. It might be my imagination, but I believe I encountered less mud and fewer deep ruts on the trail this year. It certainly isn’t as smooth as a paved bike trail, but the National Parks Service deserves a big thank you for doing good job maintaining the trail.

I completed my most recent trip in three days, which means I rode about 60 miles per day. By the end of the last day, I was pretty tired. I am sure I would enjoy the riding more if I didn’t have 25 pounds of food, water, clothing and gear with me. However, camping at the hiker/biker camp sites along the Potomac River is a highlight of the trip for me and I couldn’t do that without bringing some extra weight.

A group of us has also developed an active unicycle community in the DC area over the last few years. Before COVID started, we were doing a couple of group rides per month including distance rides, unicycle hockey, muni, beginner rides, parades, etc. We are very fortunate to have a great network of bike trails. In fact, I ride my 36" unicycle 4-5 days a week on the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) trail, Custis Trail and Four Mile Run Trail. If you are ever in the Washington DC area and want to ride, reach out to me.

Thanks for your reply, I really loved reading about your experience. Are still riding your UDC titan? The reason I ask is because I have been riding a UDC 29er for the past several years and just bought a UDC Titan 32. My 29er has been really reliable and I have put a lot of miles on it. I’m hoping to use the 32 on the trail next year. That is if I can get used to it and feel comfortable mounting . Also are those 150 cranks?

Thanks for the invite I will definitely reach out if I’m heading your way.

The UDC Titan was great for me. I didn’t have a problem with it. Two years ago, I got an Oracle 36" with a handlebar and a brake. I still have the UDC Titan, but now I mostly let friends borrow it on distance rides. And yes, while I use 125 mm cranks for all of my riding on pavement, I used 150 mm cranks when I rode the C&O canal. The longer cranks make it easier to ride on non-paved surfaces and also make it easier when I ride with a heavy backpack. Most notably, it is easier for me to free-mount using 150 mm cranks when wearing a heavy backpack.

I have ridden a 29" and 36" unicycle, but haven’t ridden a 32. Your 32 should be fine on the trail.

Good luck on the Great Allegheny Passage Trail next year. Write about your experiences! I hope you ride that trail some day.