On-Air Highlights

Explore the Bike Trail from Washington DC to Pittsburgh

Written by Fred Vigeant, Director of Programming and Promotions for TV and Radio | May 10, 2019 12:41 PM

The Great Ride explores one of America's most treasured biking destinations. The documentary from WQED covers the entire 335-miles of the C&O Canal Towpath (Washington, DC to Cumberland, MD) and the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) (Cumberland, MD to Pittsburgh).

Watch The Great Ride Tuesday at 8:00pm on WITF. It will repeat June 28 at 9:00pm.

The Great Ride follows six cyclist-tour guides from Washington, DC to Pittsburgh's Point State Park as they each bike their local piece of the 335-mile journey.

The cyclist-tour guides navigate the miles of breathtaking scenery and fascinating history, commenting on the sites and their personal connection to the trail along the way. The cyclist-tour guides include a pair of military veterans, a civil war buff, a group of women from Cleveland, a naturalist-photographer, a volunteer who helped build the trail and a local trail ambassador.

Check out the companion website  which includes a history of the C&O Canal Towpath and the Great Allegheny Passage.

The site includes an interactive map, with shareable video shorts focused on trail landmarks. Among the featured vignettes:

  • The Hot Metal Bridge in Pittsburgh - GAP Mile Marker 144
  • Hays Eagles Nest - GAP Mile Marker 141
  • Red Waterfall - Mile Marker GAP 117.8
  • Darr Mine Memorial - GAP Mile Marker GAP 105.2
  • Bollman Bridge - GAP Mile Marker 30.5
  • C&O Lockhouses - C&O Mile Marker 5 - 109
  • Life on the Canal - C&O Mile Marker 14

The Great Ride is the first professional broadcast that covers the hiking/biking journey between Pittsburgh and Washington, DC in one documentary. WQED's production team spent the majority of 2018 planning and filming along the 335-mile trail, often dealing with challenges involving weather, logistics and distance between access points.

A brief background of this historic trail:

The Great Allegheny Passage

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Ohiopyle High Bridge (GAP Mile 71.7) along the Great Allegheny Passage. CREDIT: Paul g Wiegman Photos

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 feet. 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 fountain where the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers meet to form the Ohio River at Point State Park.

C&O Canal Towpath

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Along the C&O Canal Towpath at Great Falls (C&O Mile 120). CREDIT: Paul g Wiegman Photos

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.

Watch The Great Ride Tuesday May 14 at 8:00pm on WITF. It will repeat June 28 at 9:00pm.

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