Few people will bike the entire trail in a long, multi-day ride. Most will experience the trail as part of a short walk, or an out-and-back bike ride. A third category will be bikers looking for a loop to ride where they combine exercise with education and remembrance, while not having to see the same things twice. The September 11National Memorial Trail often meanders, connecting existing trails to other locations of historical significance, which makes it the ideal gateway for riders seeking new adventures.
Below are descriptions of rides that use a segment of our trail, with brief descriptions and a Ride with/GPS map. We encourage others to offer up routes that show off the best biking opportunities in your community, using part of the September 11 National Memorial Trail to complete the loop.
Four Loops along the C&O Canal
2. Little Orleans, Paw Paw Loop (28 miles). The Paw Paw tunnel is a highlight for everyone biking the entire C&O Canal towpath. The tunnel is occasionally closed for repairs, but when open the back roads used for the detour make for a nice loop ride, usually done in a counter-clockwise direction, which puts the hills earlier in the ride, and the only short stretch on paved road (Route 51) on a downhill to reduce the time spent sharing the road with cars.
3. Washington, DC (Metro), W&OD, Leesburg, Whites Ferry, C&O, Metro (60 miles).
4. Whites Ferry, Leesburg, Point of Rocks loop (31 miles). There are other options for building a loop ride around White’s Ferry, with this ride circling back via the next bridge to the north across the Potomac River at Point of Rocks. With the exception of Route 15 into Leesburg (a busy road with a wide shoulder) most of this ride in Virginia is on quiet, unpaved rural roads, and includes the historic town of Waterford. If traveling in a clockwise direction, the final leg on the C&O Canal tow-path provides a relaxing way to end the ride. The bridge at Point of Rocks has a narrow sidewalk on the south side. Some may feel comfortable biking on this, while others will choose to walk their bikes. The location of the sidewalk is another reason why the clockwise ride is preferred. In addition to Leesburg, Point of Rocks also has food options.
The Allegheny Highlands section of the 9-11 trail has some of the best (and for many first-timers, most unexpected) sections of the route. Combining historic sites with scenic vistas and outstanding rail/canal trail conversions, the many available loop rides provide another reason to keep returning to Somerset, Blair, Huningdon, Cambria, Mifflin, and Juniata counties.
1. Path of the Flood and Ghost Town trail loop (56 miles), including the Staple Bend tunnel (oldest railroad tunnel in the US). The Ghost Town trail (at almost 50 miles) is a rail-trail gem, as is the Path of the Flood trail. This ride connects both in a loop that includes an on-road stretch north of Johnstown (adequate shoulder with moderate traffic) and a hillier road segment with no shoulder (and also some traffic) from Ebensburg to Wilmore. A clockwise loop is recommended because of these two road connections. Start/finish points in Ehrenfeld, Johnstown, Ebensburg, Dilltown include parking options. The combination of trail and road riding make this a terrific ride, but not right for those who prefer just quiet trail rides.
2. Hollidaysburg-Allegheny Portage National Railroad-Horseshoe Curve loop (28 miles) links the most historic sites in the saga of moving freight and people across the Eastern Continental Divide in the 19th century. There are two very steep climbs. Since Old Route 22 has a wide shoulder, and the road approaching the Horseshoe Curve from the west does not, a clockwise ride is recommended. The 6 to 10 trail has gravel that can be difficult for bikes with thin tires. A side trip to the Gallitzin Tunnel is easily added (to complete the tour of the historic sites) but is not included on the loop. Hollidaysburg is the logical start/finish point for this ride.
3. Canoe Creek State park loop (12 miles). For people wanting a short loop just east of Hollidaysburg, this route combines two popular local roads (Juniata Valley and Scotch Valley) and is an option for on-road bikers who are not including the Lower Trail (the main connector for the 9/11 trail between Huntingdon and Hollidaysburg) in their ride.
The Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission (covering 6 counties in south-central PA) put together a number of outstanding on-road bike loops that are now housed on the Allegheny Highlands website http://www.thealleghenies.com/Land/cycling.aspx
Click “choose a tour” in the green box or start with the brochure: http://www.thealleghenies.com/pdf/bike_brochure.pdf)
The following 4, at a minimum, have direct links with the 911 trail:
http://www.thealleghenies.com/images/maps/jpg/bikeonroad/fishermans-lg.gif (60+ miles out of Huntingdon)
http://www.thealleghenies.com/images/maps/jpg/bikeonroad/rb.jpg (60+ out of Flt. 93 memorial in Somerset Co.)
http://www.thealleghenies.com/images/maps/jpg/bikeonroad/diamond-lg.gif (25+ out of Hollidaysburg)
http://www.thealleghenies.com/images/maps/jpg/bikeonroad/timetravelers-lg.gif (various lengths out of Mapleton and Mt. Union)