Bicycling Big Savage Tunnel on the Great Allegheny Passage

Bruce Friedland at bpfphotography

Here's an inside view of the Big Savage Tunnel on the Great Allegheny Passage trail that runs for 150 miles from Cumberland, Maryland, to Pittsburgh.

My cross-country cycling companion took the picture while riding through it on a visit to Western Maryland recently.

The completion of the rail-to-trail bike path through this old railroad tunnel was one of the last obstacles before the GAP opened last year. When combined with the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath, it affords a 316-mile off-road link between Pittsburgh and Washington DC.

The tunnel sits very close to the high point on the trail — 2,392 feet of elevation. Bruce wrote:

“The tunnel, by the way, is 3,294 feet long, and without lights you wouldn’t be able to see at all. We came through a much shorter tunnel a mile or so earlier – Borden Tunnel, at 957 feet long – that wasn’t lighted at all, and it was an interesting sensation, especially because sometimes a rider would be coming the other way. (It helps if you remember to take off your sunglasses!)”

In just one year, the completed trail has become a popular destination for bicyclists. See suggestions for riding GAP. Also the 2007 Greenway Sojourn from Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

The tunnel's iron doors are scheduled to be closed and locked on Dec. 14 for the winter season.

For a 12-minute documentary on WQED, check out the Big Savage Tunnel episode.

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