FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Susan Weaver, RTC
GREENWAY SOJOURN, JUNE 23-30, GRAND OPENING RIDE
Washington, D.C., to Pittsburgh path is now the nation's longest multi-purpose trail
WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE 20, 2007—Five hundred cyclists are in high gear, ready to celebrate the recent "marriage" at Cumberland, Md., of two premier trails connecting Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh. The union of the C&O Canal Towpath and Great Allegheny Passage into the nation's longest multi-purpose trail is the focus of 6th annual Greenway Sojourn 2007. Drawn from 34 different states, riders will begin the eight-day trek from Washington this Saturday, June 23, and average 45 miles of cycling, daily. During the last four days, 10 "youth scholarship" boys and girls from center-city Pittsburgh, ages 10-11, will join the Sojourn.
The 335-mile, off-road tour, organized by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), follows a different route each year. The Sojourn typically aims to celebrate newly opened trails and promote filling the gaps in the regional rail-trail network. Many of this year's riders, ranging in age from 5 to 86, have long awaited the chance to ride this scenic route. The C&O Canal Towpath follows the Potomac River much of the way and features many surviving canal locks, lock houses and aqueducts. At the towpath's western end in Cumberland, Md., the ride continues on the Great Allegheny Passage, a gently graded route through—not over—the mountains of Maryland and southwestern Pennsylvania. The often wooded trail travels through rural towns and showcases sweeping mountain vistas, the rushing Youghiogheny River, and the dramatic engineering of bridges, tunnels and viaducts. Visits to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, the restored Fort Frederick and various museums along the way are also highlights.
En route, Sojourners will camp at Riley's Lock near Seneca, Md. (June 23), KOA Campground at Harpers Ferry, W. Va. (June 24), River Bottom Park at Williamsport, Md. (June 25), Little Orleans Campground and Park in Little Orleans, Md. (June 26), and Canal Place at Cumberland (June 27). Entering Pennsylvania, riders overnight at the municipal ball park in Confluence (June 28) and Cedar Creek County Park in Belle Vernon (June 29).
In keeping with the Sojourn's mission, cyclists will pedal seven miles on road with a police escort between suburban McKeesport, Pa., and downtown Pittsburgh to highlight the "gap in the GAP (Great Allegheny Passage.)" They will also detour on-road around a 2.7-mile gap on the C&O Canal Towpath at Big Slackwater, Pa., near Williamsport. For lack of funding, this stretch has been closed since 1996 due to erosion from flooding.
Greenway Sojourn 2007 is organized in tandem with the Allegheny Trail Alliance. Sponsors include FedEx Ground and Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit organization with more than 100,000 members, is the nation's largest trails organization dedicated to connecting people and communities by creating a nationwide network of public trails, many from former rail lines and connecting corridors. Founded in 1986, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is located in Washington, D.C., with regional offices in California, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. For more information visit www.railstotrails.org.