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The Great Allegheny Passage: Connellsville to West Newton
Take the ultimate outdoor adventure along the picturesque and recently-completed Great Allegheny Passage, a titanic footpath through forest that is still vibrant with life just around those endless Pennsylvania riverbends. After three decades of construction, the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) and Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath (C&O) now connect Washington, D.C. to Pennsylvania’s famous “Steel City” in a continuous, 355-mile bike and hike trail free of traffic and motor vehicles. On the GAP, you will experience some of the country’s most resplendent vistas and friendliest frontier towns. Pack a lunch, bring plenty of water, and prepare to discover the splendid, tragic, and fascinating story of this grand region in American history.
Exploring the towns along the Great Allegheny Passage is one of the best outdoor activities in the Laurel Highlands. With nearby landmarks like Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, Cedar Creek Park trailhead in West Newton, and John Woodruff’s Olympic Oak, in Connellsville, you’ll always be looking forward to something ahead of you along the way.
Along the Youghiogheny River in Fayette County, Connellsville is a city you won’t want to miss with its historical attractions, great eateries, and some of the trail’s cleanest bathrooms. Take a break on your journey to visit the city’s six National Historic Landmarks or stick around for the Summer Concert Series, Mum Festival, and local brew tasting. And don’t forget to visit the Olympic Oak at Connellsville High School, where Gold-medalist John Woodruff planted his oak sapling he received from Hitler after winning his track event at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Other notable sites in Connellsville are the two steel trestle bridges, the Connellsville Canteen museum, and Coker Museum. Discover the rich heritage (literally) of Connellsville and how its coke production made Pittsburgh a metropolis and gave this small city in Fayette County, PA the largest population of millionaires per capita in the United States.
Continue your journey north along the waters of the Youghiogheny River. At GAP mile 110, the GAP passes directly through the Manderino Riverfront section of Cedar Creek Park which provides Westmoreland County residents with access to the Youghiogheny River. A walk along the gorge trail in the northern section of Cedar Creek Park provides a stunning view of the ravine and charming landscape around you. Just a few miles away, you’ll run into West Newton where you can enjoy a local craft beer at Bloom Brew or take a rest at the Visitors Center, West Newton Station.
Visit the Great Allegheny Passage website to discover more about the rail trail’s history and view photos as well as plan your adventure through the Allegheny trail towns.