Tom and I continue to ride the Great Allegheny Passage Bike Trail whenever we have a few hours and good weather. It is a beautiful wooded trail along the local rivers. Even though it is a rail-trail, it is not as flat as most. One of the most challenging sections of the trail is the area that crosses over the Eastern Continental Divide at 2,392 feet elevation. Tom wants to ride this section of trail, but I am not a big fan of ups, so I proposed an alternative on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.
The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad makes runs from Cumberland to Frostburg Thursday-Tuesday during the fall. Their schedule changes according to the season, so be sure to check the website for availability. In September, they only run Thursday through Saturday. You can make the round trip next to the bike trail. Or, even better, you can get off the train in Frostburg and ride your bike back down the trail to Cumberland.
We chose, along with 15 other people, to ride the train up and ride the bike back down. The trip from Cumberland to Frostburg takes about an hour. It is a narrated tour and the guide did a great job of pointing out interesting spots and telling the history along the way. He even pointed out places where landslides closed the tracks for a while and described the other available train tours. It rained a good portion of the ride up to Frostburg but we were prepared for wet weather.
It was still drizzling when we got off the train in Frostburg. We collected our tandem from the baggage car and headed back down the trail. The GAP trail loses more than 1,000 feet in elevation over the 16 miles from Frostburg to Cumberland. The constant downhill made it a fun and fast ride back. We made it to Cumberland in an hour, easily beating the train back. Along the way we passed several through riders struggling up the hill. I was thankful we were going down! The rain stopped completely when we were about a mile along and we had sunshine the rest of the trip.
Riding the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad was the perfect way to enjoy riding this section of the Greater Allegheny Passage Trail. The train did the hard work and we got the enjoyment. The only bad thing – I didn’t work hard enough to earn any ice cream!