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Allegheny Trail Alliance
Trail Guides & Other Information

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Trail Guides for the Pittsburgh to Cumberland Trail

and onward to Washington DC via the C&O Canal Towpath

People reading books   For more detailed information about the trails, you'll want to get a copy of a trail guide. Here are the books that cover various parts of the route from Pittsburgh PA to Washington DC. We begin with the books that are most focused on the ATA trails, then go on to other books with good coverage.

Mary Shaw and Roy Weil, maps by Bill Metzger: Linking Up: Planning Your Traffic-Free Bicycle Trip Between Pittsburgh PA and Washington DC

  The trail from Pittsburgh to Washington is close enough to complete to make a good trip. Answers to common questions and directories to services and places to stay are collected in this small but powerful little book. Much of the content is available elsewhere at this site, but the book form may be more convenient. You can order from the Allegheny Trail Alliance, 419 College Ave, Greensburg PA 15601 for $3.50 (includes postage) or order it from [1999, 32 pages]

Regional Trail Corporation: Trail Book '96

  For the Youghiogheny River Trail and the Allegheny Highlands Trail in Pennsylvania, you can't beat Trail Book '96. It's not available from, and it's getting hard to find anywhere. Try asking the affiliated trail councils, bike shops near the trail, and the Regional Trail Corporation. To order from RTC, send a check for $4.00 (includes postage) to Regional Trail Corp at PO Box 95, West Newton PA 15089-0095. [1996]

Mary Shaw and Roy Weil: FreeWheeling Easy in Western Pennsylvania

  The fourth edition of the comprehensive guide to motor-free recreational trails all over western Pennsylvania, this guide covers all the open sections of the Pittsburgh to Cumberland Trail. In addition to trail descriptions, it features clear driving directions to trailheads and descriptions of the amenities along the trails. You can order from Shaw-Weil Associates, 414 South Craig St. #307, Pittsburgh PA 15213 for $14.93 (includes tax + postage) or order it from [1999, 260 pages]

Tim Palmer: Youghiogheny: Appalachian River

  Palmer explored the Youghiogheny valley from its headwaters in the Maryland mountains to its end in the industrial borders of Pittsburgh. Join him to meet the land and the people of the valley, both past and present. This isn't the usual sort of trail guide, but it's an excellent narrative about a major stretch of the trail. Order it from [1984, 337 pages]

Two books that explain Pittsburgh and its neighborhoods

  These two books are actually walking tour guides to Pittsburgh, but their narratives provide insights that bicyclists will enjoy. The trails bring you very close to some of the areas they describe.

Pittsburgh: An Urban Portrait, by Franklin Toker, 1986. Extensive identification of features of the Pittsburgh cityscape. Order it from [1995, reprint edition, 360 pages]

Seeing Pittsburgh, by Barringer Fifield, 1996. Identification and historical interpretation not as extensive as Toker, but the information is presented as wallking tours. Order it from [1996, 288 pages]

Rails-toTrails Conservancy: Pennsylvania's Rail-Trails

  This compact bike-bag-sized volume (3.75" x 8.5") has a 2-page spread for each of the rail-trails in Pennsylvania that includes a photograph, a paragraph each on history and highlights, and a sketch map. Order it from [1999, 152 pages]

Karen-Lee Ryan: Great Rail-Trails in the mid-Atlantic

  The national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy publishes a series of "40 Best" books, each sampling from three to six states. This volume covers Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio. It has sections on most of the components of the Pittsburgh to Cumberland Trail. You can get it from the Rails to Trails Conservancy for $14.95+s/h (they'll take telephone orders) or order it from [1995, 281 pages]

Thomas F. Hahn: Towpath Guide to the C&O Canal

  This is the definitive guide to the C&O Canal Towpath, which starts at Cumberland and completes the connection to Washington DC. Hahn identifies everything from even the most obscure culvert or waste weir to the names of the lockmasters who once served the canal--down to the hundredth of a mile. This is hardly surprising, for Hahn is an industrial archaeologist. It's definitely idiosyncratic, but a favorite for many. is currently reporting it as out of print. We usually see it at the National Park information centers along the canal. [1998, 224 pages]

Mike High: The C&O Canal Companion

  The new kid on the block, this guide is more contemporary, if less detailed, than Hahn's. It has less information about what you're seeing and more narrative about the historical context.We prefer it to Hahn's for an overview, but not as the book to have with us on the trip. Order it from [1997, 269 pages]

To make it easy for you to get these books, we include links for ordering them from To order several of these books, you may put each one in your shopping cart and use the "back" button to return here for the next book. is an on-line bookstore with secure procedures for credit card purchases. This page is a branch of Roy Weil's on-line bookstore, an affiliate of To search for other books in Amazon's huge collection, you may go directly to Amazon's front page. Any proceeds from sales via this page will support ATA trail development.

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This page is part of the Allegheny Trail Alliance's site in support of the Pittsburgh to Cumberland Trail, a motor-free recreational rail trail connecting Pittsburgh PA and Cumberland MD. Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000 by Allegheny Trail Alliance, Bill Metzger, Mary Shaw, and Roy Weil. Amenity information courtesy of FreeWheeling Easy. We encourage you to create links to this site and to print copies of the maps for your personal use. We prohibit other uses of this site, especially if they generate spam or other mass communications -- see our Privacy Policy.. This page was last modified on 09/03/00. Send email to ATA or contact the ATA or member trails.