The Great Ride
WQED's "The Great Ride" initiative explores one of America's most treasured biking destinations. Cyclists from all over the world are enjoying 335 miles of breathtaking scenery and fascinating history on two connecting trails: the Great Allegheny Passage, (Pittsburgh, PA to Cumberland, MD) and the C&O Canal Towpath (Cumberland to Washington, DC). To date, the production team has created two hour-long broadcast documentaries, and more than two dozen short video features released on digital platforms. Most recently the initiative has focused on the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) trail.
The Great Ride
In 2018, WQED embarked on a project to tell the stories of the two bike trails, with the documentary "The Great Ride" premiering in March of 2019. This hour-long film follows a diverse group of cyclists as they pedal the entire distance on the C&O Canal and the GAP, from DC to Pittsburgh's Point State Park.
Watch the documentary:
The Great Ride is available to order on Blu-Ray and DVD. It includes the full documentary and 11 short features showcasing landmarks along the trail.
The Great Ride: Landmarks Along the Trail
In 2022 came the follow-up documentary. "Landmarks Along the Trail" compiled 21 short videos that feature historical, architectural and natural points of interest along the GAP, including the Point Park Fountain, Dead Man's Hollow, Kennywood Park, Salisbury Viaduct, Big Savage Tunnel, Mason and Dixon Line, and more.
Watch the Documentary:
Landmarks Along the GAP
Enjoy these short videos, from Cumberland to Pittsburgh's point.
Landmarks Along the C&O Canal
Enjoy these short videos on the towpath between Washington, DC, and Cumberland, MD.
Download "The Great Ride" Educational Resources
About the Trails
The Great Allegheny Passage
From mile marker zero in Cumberland, MD, the 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage crosses splendorous valleys, snakes around mountains, running alongside three rivers (the Casselman, Youghiogheny, and Monongahela) on its nearly level trail of former railroad lines. Cyclists pass through the Cumberland Narrows, cross the Mason-Dixon Line, breeze through the Big Savage Tunnel and top the Eastern Continental Divide at 2,392’. They weave through the lush Laurel Highlands, pedal next to the roiling white water of Ohiopyle State Park, journey through Western Pennsylvania's mining and steel-making corridor - to end at Pittsburgh’s majestic Point State Park.
C&O Canal Towpath
Cyclists go back in time - biking where mules once trudged a 185-mile path next to a canal, pulling goods-laden barges between Washington, DC and Cumberland, MD. When railroads made the canal obsolete, the C&O Canal Towpath was preserved as a national park. Today, bikers travel the forested, level trail that hugs both the remnants of the canal and the panoramic Potomac River. Quaint lock keeper houses, picturesque stone aqueducts, the glorious Great Falls in Maryland and the rustic Paw Paw Tunnel are among the many attractions along the C&O trail to its end in Cumberland - where the Great Allegheny Passage trail beckons.
WQED thanks these funders for their generous support of our Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath documentary and multimedia initiative.
Allegany County Maryland
Allegany County Tourism
Allegheny Trail Alliance
Aurora Electrical & Data Services
C&O Canal Association
Hagerstown Convention and Visitor's Bureau
The Inn at Lenoras
Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Pennsylvania Recreation & Park Society