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.

  • Cumberland Mule Statue

    GAP Mile 0

    This statue honors the families who lived and worked on the boats that carried coal and other cargo up and down the C&O Canal.

  • The Narrows

    GAP Mile 1

    This natural landmark cuts through two mountains, and allowed early travel between Cumberland, MD and the western United States.

  • Frostburg

    GAP Mile 15.5

    This trailhead is known for its switchback bike path, which gives cyclists a route to the town and the opportunity to admire unique sculptures.

  • Mason and Dixon Line

    GAP Mile 20.5

    The GAP cuts through the line which formed the boundary demarcating the North from the South after the Civil War.

  • Big Savage Tunnel

    GAP Mile 21

    After a massive renovation, this architectural marvel is a must-see along the GAP.

  • Eastern Continental Divide

    GAP Mile 23.7

    This stop marks the point that separates U.S. waters flowing to the Atlantic Ocean from those flowing to the Gulf of Mexico.

  • Bollman Bridge

    GAP Mile 30.5

    Saved from demolition, this historic bridge is now a trail treasure.

  • Salisbury Viaduct

    GAP Mile 31.5

    Some of the most spectacular vistas on the trail can be enjoyed by crossing the Salisbury Viaduct, a former railroad bridge with a history both tragic and majestic.

  • Meyersdale

    GAP Mile 32

    Known for its Maple Festival, the town provides cyclists with a friendly and charming place to break from the trail.

  • Youghiogheny River Lake

    GAP Mile 61.4

    The flood control reservoir – formed in 1944 – has become a tourist attraction and popular fishing spot.

  • Ohiopyle

    GAP Mile 71.9

    Extremely popular with bikers, hikers and tourists, this state park offers beautiful scenery and outdoor activities along the Youghiogheny River.

  • Whitsett

    GAP Mile 103

    This former “coal patch” town is located steps from the GAP Trail. The houses were built by the coal company for the families of men who worked the mines.

  • The Ruins Project

    GAP Mile 104

    Created in an abandoned coal mine, the art installation features mosaics assembled from local rocks.

  • Darr Mine Memorial

    GAP Mile 105.2

    Pennsylvania’s worst mining disaster. A memorial for all that were killed in 1907.

  • Winter on the GAP

    GAP Mile 110

    Most of the GAP is open year-round, including winter months when hikers and cross-country skiers enjoy the snowy path near Cedar Creek State Park.

  • Red Waterfall

    GAP Mile 117.8

    Sightseeing attraction or eyesore? Cyclists have their own opinions of this popular stop.

  • Dravo Cemetery

    GAP Mile 122.4

    This cemetery in Elizabeth Township dates back to the 1800s. Local legend says it’s haunted.

  • Dead Man’s Hollow

    GAP Mile 129.2

    Nature is now reclaiming the site where ruins remain of a pipe factory and quarry. The hollow has conjured many legends.

  • Kennywood

    GAP Mile 137

    The GAP runs right past the historic West Mifflin amusement park that dates to 1898.

  • Pump House

    GAP Mile 139.5

    This relic of the Western Pennsylvania steel era marks the site of the great Battle Of Homestead in 1892.

  • Hays Eagles Nest

    GAP Mile 141

    A sycamore tree that draws crowds of cyclists and marks the place where bald eagles are thriving near downtown Pittsburgh.

  • The Hot Metal Bridge

    GAP Mile 144

    A vibrant piece of Pittsburgh’s industrial history carries the Great Allegheny Passage over the Monongahela River.

  • Point Park Fountain

    GAP Mile 150

    Many cyclists begin their GAP journey at Point State Park, a popular tourist spot whose fountain is fed by an aquifer known as Pittsburgh’s “Fourth River.”

Landmarks Along the C&O Canal

Enjoy these short videos on the towpath between Washington, DC, and Cumberland, MD.

Great Falls

C&O Mile 14

Just a few minutes walk off the bike trail lies Great Falls, MD, one of the most spectacular views in the region.

Life on the Canal

C&O Mile 14

Experience the life of a “canaler” – the people who carried goods along the historic C&O Canal Towpath.

C&O Lockhouses

C&O Mile 5-109

Stay the night in a C&O Lockhouse and be immersed in the rich history of the canal lockkeepers and their families.

Mountainside Ad

C&O Mile 61

The famous view overlooking the Potomac and Shenandoah River Valleys in Harpers Ferry contains a unique image from the past.

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
Destination DC
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
Resolution Rentals
Wabtec Corporation