Great Allegheny Passage: Salisbury Viaduct to the Mason-Dixon Line

The Mason & Dixon Line (Pennsylvania / Maryland State Line) on the Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
The Mason & Dixon Line (Pennsylvania / Maryland State Line) on the Great Allegheny Passage

The Great Allegheny Passage is most famous as a rails-to-trails – and it deserves its fame.  By connecting seamlessly into the C&O Canal Path, bikers can travel all of the way from Pittsburg, PA to Washington, D.C. pretty much without having to travel any roads.  How cool is that?  I decided to do a short section of the trail near Meyersdale, Pennsylvania on a summer’s day (well, two days… but I’ll describe it as one), traveling between the Salisbury Viaduct and the Maryland state line.  Along the way, I enjoyed old trestles, a museum, the Eastern Continental Divide, a few nice views, and a really neat tunnel!

Quick Stats

Round Trip Length: 27 miles Trail Type: Out & back with shuttle options Elevation Gain: 771ft. up, 538ft. down Pets: Leashed Fees: None

Riding into the Big Savage Tunnel along the Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
Riding into the Big Savage Tunnel

I’m going to pretend that we parked at the semi-official gravel parking area near the Salisbury Viaduct on Johnny Popper Road and then traveled straight to the Maryland state line/Mason-Dixon Line.  In reality, we started at Salisbury, crossed the bridge and came back (1.1 miles), drove to the Deal Trailhead, did an out-and-back to the Maryland state line (8.0 miles), then an out-and-back to Meyersdale (14.8 miles), and the next morning, another out-and-back from Meyersdale to the end of the Salisbury Viaduct (4.0 miles – yes, that’s 27.9 miles in just over 24 hours).  But that’s super complicated, which is why I’ll be talking about it in a little more of a straight line.  Point to point (one way) between the end of the Salisbury Viaduct and the MD state line is about 13.5 miles according to official sources or 27 miles RT if you don’t have a shuttle vehicle.

Entrance to the GAP at the parking area off of Johnny Popper Road, Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
Entrance to the GAP at the parking area off of Johnny Popper Road

So starting from the semi-official parking in a gravel lot off of Johnny Popper Road near the Salisbury Viaduct, we took our bikes and turned right.  Almost immediately, we arrived at the Salisbury Viaduct.

Heading for the Salisbury Viaduct on the Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
Heading for the Salisbury Viaduct

There are a few signs on this (east) side of the bridge about its construction, history, etc.  But the real fun is in crossing the viaduct itself.

Riding across the Salisbury Viaduct on the Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
Riding across the Salisbury Viaduct

There are great railings, and the surface is paved, so it’s not really vertigo-inducing (or maybe it’s just that you know you can’t fall off too easily).

Looking over the edge of the Salisbury Viaduct, Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
Looking over the edge

If you look over the left side, you can see where a second track could have been installed.

US-219 and the CSX rail line - can you see the locomotive coming?  Salisbury Viaduct, Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
US-219 and the CSX rail line – can you see the locomotive coming?

You’ll cross over Mason-Dixon Highway, an active CSX rail line, US-219 (a divided highway), Casselman River, and several farmer’s fields.

Curving lines of corn in the farmer's field from the Salisbury Viaduct along the Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
Curving lines of corn in the farmer’s field

On the far side, you’ll come to a small country cemetery not too far from Mile Marker 34.  Nearby signs tell of the history of the area and a few stories of those whose graves are nearby.  When you’re done enjoying the scenery (there’s a picturesque farm nearby, too), ride back across the Salisbury Viaduct.

Meyers Burial Ground and a farm near Mile 34 on the Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
Meyers Burial Ground and a farm near Mile 34

The trail for the next 10.3 miles has a pretty consistent 4% grade.  “Yay!” you think.  “That’s easy!”  It is – for about 5 miles.  By then, your legs are beginning to burn, and you’re wondering how you could be this badly out of shape.  Don’t worry; it’s not just you; many people struggle with the constant grade.  There is a little bit of downhill coming!

Casselman River and fields from the Salisbury Viaduct, Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
Casselman River and fields from the Salisbury Viaduct

It’s almost exactly 2 miles between the Salisbury Viaduct and Meyersdale.  Along the way, you’ll pass under this old bridge.

An underpass between the Salisbury Viaduct and Meyersdale along the Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
An underpass between the Salisbury Viaduct and Meyersdale

Mile marker 32 is in Meyersdale, not too far from the Meyersdale visitor center.  Stock up on bathroom breaks, water, etc. here – it’s the last you’ll see of civilization for a while (there are several restaurants not far from the trail, but I didn’t check them out).  There is pretty ample parking at the visitor center, too.

The caboose at the Meyersdale Visitor Center (Historical Society) along the Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
The caboose at the Meyersdale Visitor Center (Historical Society)

Actually, while you’re in Meyersdale, be sure to tour the old caboose and see the train sets in the visitor center.  They’re pretty cool!

A small part of the model trains inside the Meyersdale Historical Society, Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
A small part of the model trains inside the visitor center

It might have seemed a shock to suddenly exit the trees and find yourself in Meyersdale, but it’s even faster to leave Meyersdale behind, and you’re quickly back in the trees.

Bollman Bridge along the Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
Bollman Bridge

The next excitement is 1.7 miles later in the “town” of Glade City (there’s a town?  I couldn’t tell!)  The old Bollman Bridge is a unique structure in that it’s made of iron.  Iron bridges were never very popular, but they were easy for unskilled workers to assemble, since each piece had a number cast into it as a unique identifier.  This one was constructed in 1871 to allow the B&O Railroad to cross nearby Willis Creek.  As railroads needed heftier steel bridges, this one was moved in 1910 to act as a farm road bridge over a different section of the B&O Railroad.  It was moved again in 2006 to be part of the GAP (Great Allegheny Passage), effectively saving it from demolition.

Keystone Viaduct along the Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
Keystone Viaduct

Keep riding another 0.6 miles to the Keystone Viaduct.  This is an old rail bridge that carries the trail over Flaughtery Creek and a road.  Because of the angle of the tracks vs. the surrounding topography, it’s actually a fairly long bridge.

Approach to the Keystone Viaduct along the Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
Approach to the Keystone Viaduct

I found the next section to be a long, slow uphill through the trees.  You do cross several roads (there’s also a small parking area – Sand Patch – 1.7 miles beyond Keystone Viaduct, or about Mile 28.2), but otherwise, it’s mostly just quiet forest riding.  When you cross Warrens Mill Road, you may see signs for Amish baked goods – it’s not too far off the trail, and there are all kinds of treats, from fresh fruit and veggies to personal-sized snacks.

The GAP at the Deal Trailhead, Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
The GAP at the Deal Trailhead

At Mile 24.6, you’ll come to the Deal Parking Area.  This is another large lot with a primitive restroom and a couple of picnic tables – but no water.  The Deal Parking is a popular place for people to begin their rides.

The Eastern Continental Divide along the Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
The Eastern Continental Divide

The scenery changes subtly after this.  You’re going into the mountains, so there are hills around the path.  Just under a mile from Deal Parking, you’ll come to the Eastern Continental Divide.  This is really neat!

My bicycle and the map illustrating the Eastern Continental Divide on the GAP, Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
My bicycle and the map illustrating the Eastern Continental Divide on the GAP

I especially liked the maps and lines inside the tunnel.  It really illustrated the concept of the Eastern Continental Divide well – at least to my mind!

Looking back at cyclists approaching from the Deal Trailhead along the Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
Looking back at cyclists approaching from the Deal Trailhead

The best part?  Now you’re going downhill!  Yay!  (Well, until you come back!)  The Eastern Continental Divide is the high point of the GAP.  But the excitement isn’t over – in fact, it’s just beginning.

Along the GAP heading down toward the Big Savage Tunnel, Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
Along the GAP heading down toward the Big Savage Tunnel

At Mile Marker 22.0 (about 1.7 miles beyond the Eastern Continental Divide), the path vanishes into a tunnel.  Like, a long, dark hole in the mountainside, with open gates pushed back against the sides of the mountain.  This is the type of thing mysteries and horror films are made of, but it turns out that the Big Savage Tunnel is totally legit!

Heading into the Big Savage Tunnel along the Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
Heading into the Big Savage Tunnel

It’s also quite safe.  Volunteers and local organizations had to work together to get it open for the GAP, and they make sure it stays safe for cyclists.  I won’t guarantee you won’t get a “cave kiss” though – it’s pretty damp in there!

Inside of the Big Savage Tunnel along the Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
Inside of the Big Savage Tunnel

The tunnel is fairly well-lit – at least, there’s enough light to see what you’re doing.  One or two lights were out when I went through, and those sections were dim.  But I felt safe enough to stop and get some photos!

An orange sulphur butterfly on a spotted knapweed flower in a meadow beyond the Big Savage Tunnel, Small sundrops along the Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
An orange sulphur butterfly on a spotted knapweed flower in a meadow beyond the Big Savage Tunnel

On the other side of the Big Savage Tunnel, the trail curves for 0.2 miles out to a kind of park in the middle of nowhere.  There’s a nice view over the nearby valley, complete with benches, and a pavilion has picnic tables nearby.  I don’t know why this is here, though there appears to also be a helicopter pad.

Views into the valley below the park area along the Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
Views into the valley below the park area

Continue down the trail for a final 1.2 miles to the monuments marking the Pennsylvania-Maryland state line.  This is also the Mason-Dixon Line, so several signs explain the history of the line.  It’s actually quite well done.

The obelisk marking the Pennsylvania and Maryland state lines (also the Mason-Dixon Line) along the Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
The obelisk marking the Pennsylvania and Maryland state lines (also the Mason-Dixon Line)

I could have gone further, but I would have had to ride 1.5 miles just to get to the next road… and it’s 1.1 miles beyond that to the Borden Tunnel (the next point of interest; it’s quite a bit shorter than the Big Savage Tunnel) (Frostburg is the next official parking, at Mile 15.5 – 2.2 miles beyond Borden Tunnel).  I decided I was good on traveling south – at least for that day!

Stone blocks marking the Mason & Dixon Line along the Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
Stone blocks marking the Mason & Dixon Line

Round Trip Trail Lenth: My GPS tracked a total of 27.9 miles, but that included crossing the Salisbury Viaduct an extra 2 times (out & back).  If you do what I described here, it should be about 27 miles RT.

Elevation Gain: 771ft. up, 538ft. down (2,021ft. to 2,720ft.)

Facilities: Restrooms, water, and services are available in Meyersdale.  Restrooms are also available at the Deal Trailhead.

Fees: None

Small sundrops along the Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
Small sundrops along the trail

Trail Notes: The 4% grade is deceivingly difficult.  Give yourself grace to slog along slower than you’d thought reasonable.  Be sure to take plenty of water, as there’s very little available along the route.  There is a speed limit of 15mph.  Try to stay right and give an audible signal before you pass on the left.  No alcohol is permitted.  Stay on the trail, as most of the adjacent land is privately owned.  The Great Allegheny Passage is open from dawn to dusk year-round, although the Big Savage Tunnel is closed from late November to early April and there is no posted detour.  The Big Savage Tunnel is named for the mountain through which it travles, not for any specific event or person. The interactive map on the GAPTrail website is a great resource.

Farmland below the parking area on Johnny Popper Road, Small sundrops along the Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
Farmland below the parking area on Johnny Popper Road

Trail ★

Road ★

Signs ★

Scenery ★

Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this? ★

Overall Rating: ★

Riding across the Salisbury Viaduct, Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
Riding across the Salisbury Viaduct

GPS Coordinates for the Great Allegheny Passage: Salisbury Viaduct to Maryland State Line

Viaduct Trailhead: 39.8310140°, -079.0397970° (39°49.86084′, -079°02.38782′ / 39°49’51.6504″, -079°02’23.2692″) (2,053ft.) (0.0)

East end of Salisbury Viaduct: 39.8320090°, -079.0417400° (39°49.92054′, -079°02.50440′ / 39°49’55.2324″, -079°02’30.2640″) (2,017ft.) (0.15)

Cemetery: 39.8353440°, -079.0474910° (39°50.12064′, -079°02.84946′ / 39°50’07.2384″, -079°02’50.9676″) (2,024ft.) (0.51)

Viaduct end: 39.8309690°, -079.0397910° (39°49.85814′, -079°02.38746′ / 39°49’51.4884″, -079°02’23.2476″) (2,053ft.) (1.13)

Deal Trailhead: 39.7612790°, -078.9314210° (39°45.67674′, -078°55.88526′ / 39°45’40.6044″, -078°55’53.1156″) (2,343ft.) (0.0)

Eastern Continental Divide: 39.7534630°, -078.9160640° (39°45.20778′, -078°54.96384′ / 39°45’12.4668″, -078°54’57.8304″) (2,402ft.) (0.99)

Big Savage Tunnel: 39.7455080°, -078.8965470° (39°44.73048′, -078°53.79282′ / 39°44’43.8288″, -078°53’47.5692″) (2,356ft.) (2.39)

The Salisbury Viaduct from Johnny Popper Road, Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
The Salisbury Viaduct from Johnny Popper Road

Viewpoint: 39.7356400°, -078.8907350° (39°44.13840′, -078°53.44410′ / 39°44’08.3040″, -078°53’26.6460″) (2,326ft.) (2.58)

Mason-Dixon Line: 39.7229710°, -078.9016810° (39°43.37826′, -078°54.10086′ / 39°43’22.6956″, -078°54’06.0516″) (2,242ft.) (3.78)

Return to Deal: 39.7612710°, -078.9314430° (39°45.67626′, -078°55.88658′ / 39°45’40.5756″, -078°55’53.1948″) (2,342ft.) (8.00)

Warrens Mill Road: 39.7793100°, -078.9566620° (39°46.75860′, -078°57.39972′ / 39°46’45.5160″, -078°57’23.9832″) (2,281ft.) (9.91)

Sand Parking: 39.7955430°, -078.9754150° (39°47.73258′, -078°58.52490′ / 39°47’43.9548″, -078°58’31.4940″) (2,237ft.) (11.60)

Keystone Viaduct: 39.8104400°, -078.9955260° (39°48.62640′, -078°59.73156′ / 39°48’37.5840″, -078°59’43.8936″) (2,133ft.) (13.27)

US-219 from the Salisbury Viaduct, Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
US-219 from the Salisbury Viaduct

Bollman Bridge: 39.8184390°, -078.9948350° (39°49.10634′, -078°59.69010′ / 39°49’06.3804″, -078°59’41.4060″) (2,156ft.) (13.88)

Meyersdale: 39.8166670°, -079.0213790° (39°49.00002′, -079°01.28274′ / 39°49’00.0012″, -079°01’16.9644″) (2,110ft.) (15.45)

End Deal Trailhead: 39.7612870°, -078.9314380° (39°45.67722′, -078°55.88628′ / 39°45’40.6332″, -078°55’53.1768″) (2,342ft.) (22.83)

Meyersdale Trailhead: 39.8167330°, -079.0213640° (39°49.00398′, -079°01.28184′ / 39°49’00.2388″, -079°01’16.9104″) (2,113ft.) (0.0)

Salisbury Viaduct: 39.8319860°, -079.0417890° (39°49.91916′, -079°02.50734′ / 39°49’55.1496″, -079°02’30.4404″) (2,016ft.) (1.59)

West end of viaduct: 39.8352220°, -079.0473680° (39°50.11332′, -079°02.84208′ / 39°50’06.7992″, -079°02’50.5248″) (2,025ft.) (2.00)

End in Meyersdale: 39.8166630°, -079.0214240° (39°48.99978′, -079°01.28544′ / 39°48’59.9868″, -079°01’17.1264″) (2,108ft.) (4.00)

Great Allegheny Passage near the Keystone Viaduct, Pennsylvania
Great Allegheny Passage near the Keystone Viaduct

The gpx files for 4 different rides on the Great Allegheny Passage can be downloaded – please note that this and the GPS Coordinates are for reference only and should not be used as a sole resource when hiking this trail.

Johnny Popper Road TH & Salisbury Viaduct

Download GPX File size: 12.7 KB Downloaded 13 times

Deal TH to Mason-Dixon Line/Maryland State Line

Download GPX File size: 43.3 KB Downloaded 12 times

Deal TH to Mason-Dixon Line & Meyersdale

Download GPX File size: 106.3 KB Downloaded 12 times

Meyersdale TH to Salisbury Viaduct

Download GPX File size: 25.1 KB Downloaded 13 times

(Note: I do my best to ensure that all downloads, the webpage, etc. are virus-free and accurate; however, I cannot be held responsible for any damage that might result, including but not limited to loss of data, damages to hardware, harm to users, from use of files, information, etc. from this website.  Thanks!)

Red clover along the Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
Red clover

Getting to the Salisbury Viaduct Trailhead

From I-68, take Exit 22 for US-219N toward Meyersdale PA.  At the traffic circle, take the third exit onto US-219; at the second traffic circle, take the first exit to stay on US-219.  About 12.9 miles later, take the exit toward Garrett.  Turn left onto US-219 BUS S for 0.3 miles, then turn left onto Johnny Popper Road.  Stay on Johnny Popper Road for about a quarter mile; turn right into the gravel lot.

Closeup of the CSX locomotive about to go under the Salisbury Viaduct, Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
Closeup of the CSX locomotive about to go under the Salisbury Viaduct

From I-76, take Exit 110 toward Somerset & US-219.  Turn onto E Main Street for 0.3 miles, then take a slight right to continue onto Berlin Plank Road (Plank Road) for 2.0 miles.  Turn right to merge onto US-219S for 0.4 miles.  Merge again onto US-219S and drive 9.3 miles.  Take the exit for Meyersdale/Garrett.  After 0.4 miles, turn left onto US-219BUS S for 0.7 miles.  Turn left onto Johnny Popper Road.  Stay on Johnny Popper Road for about a quarter mile; turn right into the gravel lot.

A train after passing under the Salisbury Viaduct, Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
A train after passing under the Salisbury Viaduct

Getting to the Meyersdale Parking

From I-68, take Exit 22 for US-219N toward Meyersdale PA.  At the traffic circle, take the third exit onto US-219; at the second traffic circle, take the first exit to stay on US-219.  About 9.5 miles later, take the exit for US-219 BUS toward Meyersdale.  Turn right onto US-219 BUS N for 1.2 miles, then take a slight right onto Meyers Avenue.  After 0.2 miles, turn left onto Cherry Street and then take an almost immediate right onto Main Street.  Only 0.1 miles later, turn left into the visitor center parking lot.

A rock and ferns near the Keystone Viaduct, Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
A rock and ferns near the Keystone Viaduct

From I-76, take Exit 110 toward Somerset & US-219.  Turn onto E Main Street for 0.3 miles, then take a slight right to continue onto Berlin Plank Road (Plank Road) for 2.0 miles.  Turn right to merge onto US-219S for 0.4 miles.  Merge again onto US-219S and drive 9.3 miles.  Take the exit for Meyersdale/Garrett.  After 0.4 miles, turn left onto US-219BUS S for 2.3 miles.  Turn left onto Main Street; 0.4 miles later, turn left into the visitor center parking lot.

Views up the valley from the "park" near the Big Savage Tunnel along the Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
Views up the valley from the “park” near the Big Savage Tunnel

Getting to the Deal Parking

From I-68, take Exit 29 onto MD-546.  Drive north for 3.3 miles (plus 0.2 miles; the road changes names after entering Pennsylvania).  Turn right onto McKenzie Hollow Road for 3.2 miles, then turn left onto Deal Road for 0.5 miles.  Turn right into the gravel parking lot.

Wildflower (Birdfoot Trefoil) along the Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
Wildflower (Birdfoot Trefoil) along the trail

From I-76, take Exit 110 toward Somerset & US-219.  Continue straight for about 0.9 miles; turn left onto E Main Street for 0.3 miles, then take a slight right to continue onto Berlin Plank Road (Plank Road) for 8.1 miles.  The road will change names to Broadway Street; continue another 0.3 miles.  Turn left onto Main Street for 0.4 miles, then turn right onto S. Cumberland Street for 11.9 miles.  Turn right onto Mckenzie Hollow Road.  After 0.9 miles, turn right onto Deal Road for 0.5 miles.  The gravel parking area will be on the right.

Visual route map of the Great Allegheny Passage between Salisbury Viaduct, Meyersdale, and the Mason & Dixon Line, Pennsylvania
Visual route map of the Great Allegheny Passage between Salisbury Viaduct, Meyersdale, and the Mason & Dixon Line

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