If you’re ever in Western Pennsylvania or Maryland, there are some great walks on the Great Allegheny Passage.  The GAP is a “rails to trails” route that connects Pittsburgh with Washington, DC (combined with the C&O Towpath) and is a beautiful place to bike or walk through the Appalachian mountains.  Luckily, I get to Pennsylvania a few times each year to visit my family and I try to do at least one of the GAP seasonal events.

One of my new favorite routes is through Ohiopyle State Park.  The route begins by crossing a converted rail road bridge and then leaves the GAP trail to enter Fern Cliff Peninsula nature preserve – this area is warmer than the surrounding area and has many “southern” plants.  The volksmarch takes you counter-clockwise around the peninsula, through the woods, and even across a “paved” rock pathway that keeps your walking shoes out of the mud!  On the day that I walked, the ground was still a little soggy from the late-winter snow storms and I took a few leaps of faith, but managed to keep clean!  Continuing around the pennisula, you come to a stone staircase that takes you down to view the gorgeous waterfall.  There is some natural seating where you can relax, before climbing the stairs back to the top and finishing the route back on the GAP.

All of the GAP routes have pre-registration, which is great for the traveler.  I was able to get all of the route maps early and could plan out where I wanted to walk before I even got to Pennsylvania.