Allegheny Highlands Trail, Continental Divide Section
From state line through Big Savage Tunnel and along Flaugherty Run to Meyersdale in Somerset County

From Frostburg, the trail follows the route of the Western Maryland RR for 16 miles to Meyersdale. It climbs for 5 miles to the MD/PA state line, then levels off a bit as it approaches the major feature of this section of the trail, the Big Savage Tunnel. Emerging from the woods at Deal, the trail descends along Flaugherty Run to Meyersdale.

The trail is accessible at two locations in Frostburg: the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad depot and the official trail access on New Hope Rd. At the depot, the trail starts just across the tracks from the train station.  It stays beside the tracks for a hundred yards and leads to an observation deck that provides a preview of the excitement that's about to begin. Just past the observation deck, the trail begins a spectacular series of quick switchbacks that descend quickly to the main trail and the official access point off New Hope Rd.

Allegheny Highlands Trail, Continental Divide Section

Location                                                                                                                     Allegany County MD

Trailheads                                                              Frostburg Depot, New Hope Rd, Deal, Meyersdale

Length, Surface                                                                                        16 miles, packed crushed stone

Character       Uncrowded, wooded, mixed sun and shade, noticeable grades, big hill in Frostburg

Usage restrictions                                                                    No motorized vehicles; no snowmobiles

Amenities                                                                                                             Rest rooms, food, lodging

Driving time from Pittsburgh                                                                                      2 hours southeast

However, you get to the New Hope trailhead, the trail to the Continental Divide goes northwest from the trailhead for half a mile through woods and a cut to cross Mt Savage Rd. Soon after that, the trail bends north onto the side of Savage Mountain for 1.8 miles to the short Borden Tunnel. After the tunnel it's another 3 miles to Mason Dixon Park. Here a stone marker and an inlay across the trail mark the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania, and where the Allegheny Highlands Trail of Maryland connects seamlessly with the Allegheny Highlands Trail of Pennsylvania. Several spectacular views open to the right. Concentrate on the views, because the hill to the left is a former strip mine. 

After the state line, the hillside to the west shifts to forest and the views to the east continue. The trail bends to the left and the signature feature of this trail comes into view.  The spectacular kilometer-long Big Savage Tunnel takes the trail under the mountain and saves 250 feet of climb. A few years ago this tunnel was partially collapsed and in dangerous condition; its reconstruction has taken years of dedicated effort by trail developers.  Now it is re-lined, well-surfaced, and even lighted.  It's worth a day trip from either Frostburg or Meyersdale just to visit the tunnel.  Note, though, the lights are turned off at night, and the tunnel is closed in the winter to protect it from weather damage.  If you're planning a trip in the cooler months, check to see whether the tunnel is open. If it's closed, there's really no good detour; the only alternatives are via MD546 and US40 or via PA160 to Barrelville; both involve hills and traffic, and we don't recommend either.

West of the tunnel, the trail crosses the Eastern Continental Divide. Paradoxically, the continental divide is actually in a cut, not on top of a ridge. It's about a mile west of the tunnel, just east of the culvert that crosses under Mackenzie Hollow Rd.   The original devide was in the middle of the cut, but trail construction moved it to the east end of the culvert under the road. Rain that falls on the tunnel side of this the road flows into Laurel Run, then to the Potomac and the Atlantic Ocean. Rain that falls on the west side Mackenzie Hollow road flows into Flaugherty Creek, ultimatly to the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico.

At Mackenzie Hollow Rd the trail starts descending gradually toward Meyersdale. The remote surroundings of the eastern flank of Big Savage Mountain gives way to rural Pennsylvania.  The trail passes through several small villages and crosses Faugherty Creek several times.  Six miles from Mackenzie Hollow Rd the trail crosses high above the creek, the road, and the active railroad line on the Keystone Trestle. This curved bridge was constructed to preserve the graceful lines of the original railroad bridge, which was sacrificed a few years ago in order to straighten a nasty curve on the road below.

Soon after the Keystone Trestle, the trail emerges at Scratch Hill Rd. Trail developers have moved a historic iron Bollman bridge, originally manufactured for the railroad in 1871, from a few miles away to carry the trail across the road. Another quick run through the woods brings the trail to Meyersdale and the visitor center in the restored train station

Access points

Frostburg Vicinity: Directions begin on I68 eastbound approaching Frostburg. To reach this point from Pittsburgh, take I79 south to US40, US40 east to I68, and I68 east to Cumberland.

Frostburg Depot trailhead: Take the Frostburg exit from I68 toward Frostburg. At US40 (W Main St) go straight onto Depot St.  Go down the steep hill to the train depot.  You can park here to meet the train or ride down the switchbacks to the New Hope Rd trailhead, or you can turn right on New Hope Rd after crossing the tracks and go downhill to the New Hope trailhead.

Frostburg New Hope Rd trailhead: Take the Frostburg exit from I68 toward Frostburg. At US40 (W Main St) go straight onto Depot St.  Go down the steep hill to the train depot.  Continue past the depot. Just after crossing the railroad track at the turntable, turn right down New Hope Rd. Just before going under the railroad bridge, turn right into the parking lot.

Meyersdale Vicinity: Directions begin at the Somerset exit of the PA Turnpike (I76).  To reach this point from Pittsburgh, take the PA Turnpike eastbound.

Meyersdale trailhead: From the Somerset Turnpike exit, go south on US219 about 20 miles to Meyersdale. Turn left on Main St and climb the hill. After 0.5 miles, just on the edge of town, the restored railroad station marks the trailhead. Park here.

Amenities

Rest rooms, water: In Frostburg depot, at New Hope trailhead, and at the Meyersdale station.

Bike shop, rentals: None.

Restaurant, groceries: In Frostburg and Meyersdale.       

Camping, simple lodging: In Frostburg and Meyersdale.

Swimming, fishing: None.

Winter sports: No snowmobiles. Cross-country skiing is good.

Wheelchair access: The switchbacks from the depot to New Hope Rd are probably ADA compliant, but they're pretty long.

Insert photo

 

Switchbacks connect the Frostburg access areas

Maps, guides, other references

Trail brochure

Mary Shaw and Roy Weil. Linking Up: Planning Your Traffic-Free Bike Trip between Pittsburgh PA and Washington DC. Shaw-Weil Associates, 2002.

USGS Topographic Maps: Cumberland MD-PA, Frostburg MD, Wittenburg, Meyersdale.

   


Allegheny Highlands Trail, Casselman River Section
Along Casselman River from Meyersdale to Confluence in Somerset County

The Allegheny Highlands Trail follows the Casselman River for 31 miles from Meyersdale to Confluence, where it connects seamlessly with the Youghiogheny River Trail. 

This section of the trail begins at the railroad station in Meyersdale (mile 31.8). This is the restored Western Maryland station; there's another station on the active railroad a few blocks away. From this station, the trail runs 1.6 miles through a cut and along the edge of a hill. Then it emerges to cross the Casselman River valley on the Salisbury Viaduct. This wonderful 1900-foot structure soars as much as 100 feet above the wide valley, providing great views in both directions.

Allegheny Highlands Trail, Casselman Section

Location                                                                      Addison, Lower Turkeyfoot, Upper Turkeyfoot,
                                                                                                      Black, Summit Twps, Somerset County

Trailheads                                                                           Meyersdale, Garrett, Rockwood, Markleton

Length, Surface                                                                                        30 miles, packed crushed stone

Character                                                                     Uncrowded, wooded, mixed sun and shade, flat

Usage restrictions                                                                    No motorized vehicles; no snowmobiles

Amenities                                                                                        Rest rooms, bike rental, food, lodging

Driving time from Pittsburgh                                                                   1 hour 45 minutes southeast

You'll be able to see several windmills of western Pennsylvania's first "wind farm". Green Mountain Energy installed of eight modern windmills to generate electrical power. You can see these from the trail – we think the best view is from the Salisbury Viaduct.  As the wind farm business grows, expect other windmills to join these pioneers.

At the other end of the viaduct (mile 13.4) a small family graveyard is on the right. Here the trail runs through farmland for about two miles. Watch for peacocks in the farmyard near the trail. After another small cut, the trail arrives at Garrett. Here at one time the railroad grade had been filled in to support the road and a detour off of the railroad grade was necessary, now a culvert passes under the road and the trail continues on grade.

Shortly after the culvert the trail passes the trail head, a canoe access to the river and the waterworks plant. From here to Rockwood, little intrudes on the woods and river. The trail is generally 20-40 feet above the Casselman River, affording views of the moderate rapids and, in season, of canoeists and kayakers. During early spring snowmelt, waterfalls and creeks cascade over the adjacent cliffs and out of the hollows. At mile <<XX.X>>, a fine rock cliff forms the side of the trail. Across the river, five rectangular openings mark the location of an old mine. The gob heap that appears at mile <<XX.X>> signals that you're approaching Rockwood.

The trail drops from the railroad grade to cross the road (Bridge St) at Rockwood <<mile XX.X>>). A large parking lot provides the most convenient access from the PA Turnpike. Past the Rockwood parking lot, the trail passes the remnants of a mining complex and coal tipple <<mile XX.X>>). It remains close to the river, with periodic views of the river and the canoeists. At <<mile XX.X>> a bench provides a perch from which to watch the cascade leaping off the cliff, and at <<mile XX.X>> another stream emerges in a wooden trough. The trail continues in woods to mile <<mile XX.X>>, where the town of Casselman comes into view across the river. Just north of milepost <<mile XX.X>>) a waterfall gurgles gently down the cliff face.

At <<mile XX.X>>) the trail drops to the road crossing (SR3011) at Markleton, then climbs to the trail.  The parking area is a little farther downhill, near the river. Another 1.7 miles brings you to the low bridge across the Casselman River at the Pinkerton Horn <<mile XX.X>>). After crossing the low bridge, the outstanding feature of this trail segment: the 850-foot Pinkerton Tunnel, dated 1911 is visible. Also visible is the recent (2015) cut made to day light the B&O tunnel that crossed above the Pinkerton tunnel. Part of the Pinkerton Tunnel ceiling had fallen and extensive, expensive repairs have been made in 2016, so the tunnel is now open. A bypass trail goes 1.5 miles around Pinkerton Horn on an older railroad grade, and rejoins the main route at the other end of the tunnel, just before the high bridge. The river falls about 40' as it goes around Pinkerton Horn, which accounts for both the height difference of the bridges and the river's popularity with whitewater paddlers. This bypass railroad grade had been used in 1879 to bypass a collapse of the upper tunnel of the active B&O Railroad. This upper tunnel has now (2015) been daylighted (the top removed). The Pinkerton bypass is unlike the remainder of the trail. The railbed is on a narrow shelf, so the trail feels more intimate as it winds through the trees. Be careful on this segment: The trail is 10' wide, but the surface is rougher, there are no shoulders, and a drainage channel runs at the edge of the trail. For now, the trail stops at the far end of the high bridge <<mile XX.X>>)

After Pinkerton Horn, the trail continues to the road crossing at Ft Hill.  The first 4.7 miles after Ft Hill go through a pleasant wooded area with occasional views of streams and waterfalls. The open area a mile south of Ft Hill is an old tornado track. The land adjacent to the trail is private property, so please remain on the trail. When the trail crosses the Casselman River again (for the fourth time since Meyersdale) the trail leaves the woods and enters a cut through a residential area of Harnedsville. If you want to go into Harnedsville, leave the trail at this road crossing after the bridge, because the trail goes under PA523 in a new box culvert with no road access.

New photo – CDxx, 00xx

 

Salisbury Viaduct soars over the Casselman valley

The remaining 3.1 miles into Confluence are more developed. The trail parallels PA 523 for a few blocks and swings away across a cut to make its fifth and final crossing of the Casselman River. After this river crossing, the trail descends to PA281, passes the Confluence trailhead, and crosses the Youghiogheny River to join the Yough River Trail South.

The spirit of the railroad will be with you on this trail: Full-fidelity sound is provided by the frequent trains of the active Baltimore and Ohio line just across the river.


Development Plans

There are plans to develop a trail between the GAP and the 911 Memorial at Shanksville. CSX railroad donated 5.6 miles between the GAP at Garrett and Berlin plus 4 miles between Berlin and Shanksville.  That leaves a gap in Berlin where roads might work, another two and half miles between Berlin and Shanksville, and the two and a half miles from Shanksville to the Memorial.

Access points

Vicinity: Directions begin at the Somerset exit of the PA Turnpike (I76).

Meyersdale trailhead: From the Somerset Turnpike exit, go south on US219 about 20 miles to Meyersdale. Turn left on Main St and climb the hill. After 0.5 miles, just on the edge of town, the restored railroad station marks the trailhead. Park here.

Garrett trailhead: From the Somerset Turnpike exit, go south on US219 about 15 miles to Garrett. Turn right on PA653. Go 0.2 miles to Berlin St and turn left. Go 0.1 miles on Berlin St and cross the bridge. If you're riding toward Rockwood, turn right just after crossing the bridge and follow the dirt road 0.3 miles to trailhead parking. If you're riding toward Meyersdale, turn left about 100' past the bridge and go 200' to the parking area. Alternate route: A shortcut to Garrett uses SR2031 to avoid following US219 all the way east to the town of Berlin and back west. The intersection of SR2031 with PA653 is west of Garrett, so turn left from SR2031 onto PA653, then right on Berlin.

Rockwood trailhead: From the Somerset Turnpike exit, follow signs to go south on PA281 about 10 miles to PA653. Go east on PA653 2.7 miles to Rockwood, where it's also called Bridge St. Where PA653 turns left to avoid crossing the Casselman River, continue straight on Bridge St (SR2016) to cross the river. The entrance to the parking lot is on the right about 25 yards past the bridge. Alternate route: A shorter, but more complicated, route to Rockwood follows Coxes Ck: From the Somerset Turnpike exit follow signs to go south on PA281. At the first traffic light after joining PA281, turn left on SR3015. Follow SR3015 8.2 miles to Rockwood. At the stop sign where PA653 enters from the left, go straight on PA653. Follow this road (Main St) for 0.8 miles through Rockwood. When PA653 turns right to leave the river, turn left on Bridge St (SR2016) to cross the river and park as above. Signs in Rockwood direct you to the trail.

Markleton trailhead: From the Somerset Turnpike exit, go south on PA281 about 18 miles to SR3011. Turn left on SR3011 and follow its twists and turns to cross the Casselman River. Just after crossing the river, turn right into the parking lot. This parking area also serves whitewater boaters on the Casselman River.

Confluence trailhead: From the Somerset Turnpike exit, go south on PA281 for about 26 miles. Turn right to cross the Casselman River when PA523 goes straight. Just after crossing the Casselman, look for trailhead parking.

Confluence trailhead: From the Somerset Turnpike exit, go south on PA281 for about 26 miles. You'll turn right to cross the Casselman River when PA523 goes straight. Just after crossing the Casselman, look for trailhead parkingConfluence trailhead: From the Somerset Turnpike exit, go south on PA281 for about 26 miles. You'll turn right to cross the Casselman River when PA523 goes straight. Just after crossing the Casselman, look for trailhead parking

Fort Hill trailhead: From Somerset Turnpike exit, go south on PA281 «## miles» to SR3001.  Turn left on SR3001 and follow it «across the Casselman River and how far up the hill? to the trailhead»

Harnedsville trailhead: From Somerset Turnpike exit, go south on PA281 «## miles» to «figure out best way to get to Harnedsville and where the trail is in Harnedsville?»

Confluence trailhead: From Somerset Turnpike exit, go south on PA281 «## miles» to Confluence.  «Where's trail in Confluence?  Ramcat Hollow or in town?»

Amenities

Rest rooms, water: Chemical toilets, probably seasonal, at Meyersdale, Garrett, Rockwood, and Markleton trailheads. No water.

Bike shop, rentals: Rentals in Rockwood near the trailhead.

Restaurant, groceries: In Rockwood, just across the bridge from the trailhead; also restaurants in Rockwood proper. In Confluence, near the town square.

Camping, simple lodging: B&Bs in Meyersdale, Rockwood, Harnedsville, and Confluence.  Several more B&Bs are being planned along the route. The Corps of Engineers operates Outflow Campground at the base of Youghiogheny Dam, about half a mile from Confluence; they have a bicycle camping area that does not require reservations. We also understand that private owners are considering campgrounds along the trail near Meyersdale and Rockwood.

Swimming, fishing: Unsupervised swimming in the Casselman River. Many sections of the river have whitewater rapids, so be careful, especially when the water is high.

Winter sports: No snowmobiles. Cross-country skiing is good, as the trail is sheltered and holds snow. The parking lot at Rockwood is plowed regularly.

Wheelchair access: Some narrow gates—as narrow as 31" at Markleton. Fairly steep ramps down to roads at Rockwood and Markleton.

 

Trail organization

Trail Manager for Allegheny Highlands Trail (Flaugherty Run Section)

Hank Parke
Somerset County Rails to Trails Association
829 North Center Av
Somerset PA 15501-1029
(814) 445-6431
(814) 443-4313 (fax)

Maps, guides, other references

Bill Metzger. The Great Allegheny Passage Companion. The Local History Company, 2003.

Mary Shaw and Roy Weil. Linking Up: Planning Your Traffic-Free Bike Trip between Pittsburgh PA and Washington DC. Shaw-Weil Associates, 2002.

Trail Book 2005. Available from Allegheny Trail Alliance and local businesses.

Tim Palmer. Youghiogheny, Appalachian River. University of Pittsburgh Press, 1984.

USGS Topographic Maps: Meyersdale, Burdock, Rockwood, Markleton, Confluence. When the undeveloped sections are finished, you'll also need Frostburg and Wittenberg.

Version

Text version from 10/2016. Cumberland to Mason Dixon Park ??/???, Mason Dixon park to Meyersdale 10/2016, Meyersdale to Salisbury Viaduct ??/????, Salisbury Viaduct to Rockwood 10/2016, Rockwood to Pinkerton ??/????, Pinkerton to Confluence 8/2016. Conditions will have changed; you are responsible for your own safety. Oldest segment check 1/2000.