Staycation Destination: West Newton to Ohiopyle on the Great Allegheny Passage
As bicyclists pedal south, away from Pittsburgh on the Great Allegheny Passage, the towns get farther apart, the woods get deeper and the views get even more impressive.
Last month’s guide to the GAP focused on the 148-mile biking and walking trail’s most urban stretch — the 26 miles between Pittsburgh and West Newton.
Now it’s time to get into nature and embark on the 43-mile ride from West Newton to Ohiopyle.
West Newton is the perfect place to start a Great Allegheny Passage expedition, or to take a break. A large trailside parking lot provides easy access. West Newton Bicycle Shop offers rentals and tune-ups while, upstairs, The Trailside Pub and Restaurant provides burgers, wings and brews.
The empty concrete structures above a long-abandoned coal mine have become an outdoor art gallery thanks to mosaic artist Rachel Sager.
She bought the mine about five years ago and created The Ruins Project. She’s installed dozens of mosaics on the building walls, all tied in some way to the history of the region and the coal industry.
Some of the pieces she made herself, others come from mosaic artists all over the world.
Tours are available by booking at ruins.sagermosaics.com.
The Ruins Projects is right off the trail, and the constant stream of travelers has been good for business, Sager said.
“I call the GAP trail the great thoroughfare of humanity that passes by every day. … I get people passing by my studio and The Ruins from all over the world, and they’re all happy.”
Film fans will want to make a stop the tiny community of Layton. A three-story Victorian home on Circle Road was used as the home of serial killer Buffalo Bill in 1991’s “The Silence of the Lambs.”
The house is privately owned, so admire it from a distance.
The city offers plenty of food and drink options for weary travelers, especially those willing to take a quick detour.
The are several alternate trail routes through town. The most direct route passes several eateries, including Ruvo’s Italian Restaurant, and Bikes Unlimited bike shop, but a trip across the bridge over the Youghiogheny River will bring bikers past many more shops and restaurants, such as local favorite Bud Murphy’s.
There’s also an Amtrak station in town, which provides a convenient jumping-off point for bikers looking to get to or from Washington, D.C., by train.
The Trib’s guide to the GAP stops in Ohiopyle, but you don’t have to. Adventurous riders can continue a further 71 miles to Cumberland, Md. The truly dedicated can hop on the C&O Canal Towpath in Cumberland and keep going another 185 miles to Washington, D.C.
Or you could hang out in Ohiopyle, home to some of the best hiking, biking and rafting in Pennsylvania.
The Trib’s next Staycation feature will highlight the details of Ohiopyle State Park.
Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, [email protected] or via Twitter .