This article originally appeared in Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, September 6th, 2021
Situated among the Appalachian Plateau and Allegheny Mountains and bordered by the Potomac River, Allegany County is a scenic biking destination in the ‘Mountain Side of Maryland.’ A convenient drive from major regional cities, including Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Pittsburgh, you will find plenty to do in your saddle and off.
A quarter of Allegany County is preserved as public land, giving riders plenty of options to choose from. Bike the trails around Lake Habeeb, known for some of the bluest water in the state, at Rocky Gap State Park. Hang out on the park’s beaches or take a boat out on the water for a change of scenery. Green Ridge State Forest offers more than 80 miles of trail for hikers and bikers to discover. More experienced riders will enjoy the Green Ridge Mountain Biking Trail, a 12.5-mile circuit made up of mostly singletrack.
Additionally, two internationally-recognized trail systems meet in Allegany County to give you countless riding options. Head north from Cumberland, Md., on The Great Allegheny Passage, a 150-mile rail trail that finishes in Pittsburgh, Pa., or take the C&O Canal Towpath 184.5 miles south to Washington, D.C., on one of the most visited national parks in the country. The historic C&O Canal is celebrating its 50th anniversary as a national park in 2021. With so many miles available on these off-road gravel paths, it’s easy to go for a day ride or string together a multi-day bikepacking trip.
Road cyclists will love the routes available in Allegany County. Traffic is light, which makes travel faster and safer. The region is geographically central to West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and neighboring Maryland counties, which means more routes for you and more scenic beauty, which isn’t too shabby either! While there are hundreds of miles worth exploring, Mountain Maryland has worked with its local trail groups to develop eight distinct road routes. The routes range in distance from 15 miles to an 80-mile ride that will take you from downtown Cumberland to the Flight 93 Memorial in nearby Shanksville, Pa.
If you are looking to rent a bike or need a quick tune up, Allegany County is home to multiple outfitters, including its newest business, Wheelzup Adventures. Wheelzup started as a shuttle-service business that provided passenger and bike transportation to and from trail towns along the C&O Canal and Great Allegheny Passage. Now that business has expanded to a retail storefront in downtown Cumberland. The store offers trail, road, and kid bike rentals, apparel and gear retail, and the outfitting connection for a variety of tours and guided experiences.
When you are done on your bike, check out some of the other trails in the area for a refreshing taste of the mountains. The Ice Cream Trail features nine stops with menus full of sweet treats, including seasonal, homemade ice cream flavors and specialty sundaes. Drive the Mountain Maryland Tap and Pour Craft Beverage Tour for a roundup of the area’s best wineries, breweries, and distilleries. After a long day outside, grab a glass of your favorite drink while you enjoy the scenery.
Get away and ride all day in Allegany County, the ‘Mountain Side of Maryland.’
All photos courtesy of Mountain Side of Maryland