GAP Ride Part 2
The second leg of our GAP adventure was much less humid than the first, with a morning temperature of 65 F, increasing to 80 F in the afternoon. We rode from Connellsville to Rockwood along a well-shaded section of trail, with the occasional cool breeze. I very much liked the format of this ride. We covered 46 total miles; with 28 before lunch, and 18 afterward. The scenery too, was enjoyable, with abundant trees and wildflowers.
The first half of our ride stretched from Connellsville to Confluence. This portion of the ride was quiet and peaceful. We followed along beside the Youghiogheny river, with trees around us and their leaves above us. Between Connellsville and Ohiopyle we had a number of encounters with a trail-resurfacing project. This was tricky, as we had to take our bikes off the trail and ride through the trailside brush. However, there will be a uniformly smooth trail for future bikers coming along the trail following the maintenance project.
One point, about 5 miles before Ohiopyle, was my favorite part of the ride. There was a picturesque break in the trees between the trail and river. One could look out across the sun-glistening Youghiogheny, offset by clusters of black-eyed susans growing along the hill sloping up from the river. In addition to this scene, there was a significant amount of wildflowers along this portion of the trail. We encountered a variety of wildlife as well, including butterflies and frogs. In a small meadow just past Ohiopyle, there was a family of 3 deer, which was fun to see from so close on our bikes.
After the morning portion of our trip, we enjoyed sandwiches at The Lucky Dog Café in Confluence. Following momentary confusion due to a lack of experience and distinctive signage along the trail in Confluence, we found the café and eagerly dismounted our bikes for a break from pedaling and an enjoyable meal on the patio. After an hour of relaxing lunchtime, we hopped back on our bikes and set off on the remaining portion of our trip.
The second half of our trip, from Confluence to Rockwood, at 18 miles, was less intimidating than the 28 mile marathon we biked in the morning. However, this portion was not to be taken lightly, as we were tired and sore from the morning’s travels. This portion of the trail truly gave an impression of being in the wilderness. Cell service did not reach this area, and there were fewer opportunities to use the bathroom or fill a water bottle than previously. On this section of the trail, there was a permanent detour on abandoned rail line around the Pinkerton Tunnel, near Markleton. After following the detour for what seemed like a number of miles, we encountered a mile marker that had only decreased by one mile since the previous marker. As a result, we are curious if these mile markers inaccurately reflect the mileage including the detour.
The last few miles of trail coming into Rockwood were scenic. Despite the date being August 23rd, the combination of the sight and smell of fallen colorful leaves gave the impression of autumn. There were many late-summer wildflowers blooming, and an abundance of butterflies fluttered around our wheel spokes as we biked along. In the last mile before Rockwood, there are a number of interesting waterfall outcroppings which flow downhill from the woods toward the river. Finally, after 46 miles we arrived in Rockwood. We purchased ice cream at the Rockwood Mill Shoppes, which was a great way to end the journey. Despite a continuous gradual incline from Connellsville to Rockwood, this was an enjoyable ride filled with pleasant scenery.