Don’t be fooled by the name, this park is actually in Pennsylvania. We set out in cars packed with children and bikes for our 5th bike-camp adventure with ourselves, the Fantastics, and our intrepid friends, another family of 6! Yes, adding it up, we had 8 kids, 4 adults, and all that gear.
The idea was to bike about 60 miles on the Greater Allegheny Passage, a bike trail that goes from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC (or vice-versa if you prefer!). The Passage is a wonderful biking experience with many options for tent camping, hotels, B&Bs, cafes, small towns and gorgeous scenery along old train routes. It is well-organized with maps pointing out amenities at each town. We brought our gear for tent camping, but were also able to enjoy ice cream along the way!
The towns are well-spaced so that one could do the trip without camping gear, also there are train options for transporting yourself and you bike between many stops. The paths were well-groomed, and our ride was smooth. We planned to start at Meyersdale, stay a night in Rockwood, spend 2 nights at Ohiopyle before finishing the trip at Connellsville. This route proved ideal as most of it had a 2% downhill grade, perfect for our 4 kids who are 8 and under and still challenging for the older ones.
The viaduct near Meyersdale, PA.
Meyersdale had a train museum in an old train station filled with semaphore lights, old photographs, dining car place settings, and other paraphernalia of the golden age of train travel. We spent some time there, then loaded up our gear and biked about 12 miles to our campground for the night in (if I remember correctly) Husky Haven campground in Rockwood “near mile post 43” as the directions go. We camped by the river, cooked our dinner, then packed up the next morning for the trip to Ohiopyle, approximately 30 miles away. This was our longest day biking and we took a few breaks along the way.
Ice cream break at town center in Confluence
Once at Ohiopyle, we headed to our campsite. This proved to be the most arduous part of the day, since the elevation of the campsite was about 1000 feet higher than the bike trail. We were warned by a bicycler heading towards us who actually offered to drive our gear up for us, but we thought “meh-how bad can it be?”. Friends, when someone offers to drive your gear to your campsite, you may want to consider the implications more seriously than we did, because, whew, what a trail! Between the 2 families, we had 4 fully loaded bike trailers, like the kind shown here, and
well, the under-7-year olds, all 3 of them, were riding on top of the gear stored inside. Their bikes were strapped to the top of the trailers. I have no pictures of this because I was just too darn tired to be taking pictures while slogging uphill against all that gravity with sleeping twins! Those trailers can really handle some weight and rough trails, I will say that. We did make it to the campsite, which was really nice. The sites were spread out, each had 2 picnic tables and a grill and modern bathroom building nearby. We spent the entire next day at the park, mostly swimming in the Youghiogheny (yaw-ki-gay-nee) River Gorge, which is just fun to say. There are natural water slides, which were oh-so-fun even as you sustain a massive wedgie and fear a head injury for yourself and your offspring as you consider the many hard rock formations whizzing by your delicate cerebrum.
Natural water slide at Ohiopyle
We were able to go on these slides, hike several trails and also enjoy lunch in town without a car since there is so ch right there. There are rafting, horse riding, and other available things to do at the park as well. It is an amazing place!
Our last day, we packed it all up and went down that steep trail back to the Passage. We biked about 15 miles to Connellsville and parted ways. We Fantastics had lunch in Connellsville, a small town that has seen the effects of a changing economy over the years. We saw an excellent decrepit building that had been a fancy department store in its salad days. We had some mediocre chinese food and pointed the car back home.
I can’t help it, I love old buildings