Brad from Milford, MI on 12/27/2018 12:37:04 PM
I hiked the entire length of the GAP, from the Point in Pittsburgh to Cumberland, in September 2017. It took me eight days and I loved the experience, but I wouldn't repeat it on foot. For what its worth, I've since returned with my bike and found the trail much more enjoyable. The people were wonderful -- the bikers were generally very courteous in announcing themselves coming up from behind, and many, many people stopped to talk. However, the trail is definitely built to accommodate bikes, not through hikers. Bikes will end up outnumbering you about 50 to 1 -- you will be the tortoise among the hares -- and all the facilities are generally biking distances apart, which is about three times as far as needed on foot.
I ended up walking mostly 20-24 mile days in order to reach accommodations, which pushed my physical limits pretty hard. My pack was pushing 40 lbs because of all the camping gear & food I needed to carry, which was certainly too heavy. Even with good planning, I ended up boondocking on the side of the trail one night between Confluence and Rockwood just because the distances between facilities just did not work.
My first day was Pittsburgh to the hostel in McKeesport. If you can't get in that hostel, there is really nowhere to spend the night between Pittsburgh and Boston, unless you want to stop short and stay in one of the hotels in Homestead.
The second day, I reached Cedar Creek campground, which was great accommodations. The third night was at the shelters in Connellsville, which turned out to be my favorite night of the entire trip. Day four was Ohiopyle, day five I got stuck between towns & just roughed it, day six was Meyersdale -- I can't recommend Morguen Toole highly enough!!! Day seven I made Frostburg and the final day was Cumberland. Many of these stops are pretty much mandatory -- you won't find anywhere to pitch a tent between Connellsville and Ohiopyle, for example.
So, yes, it can be done, and you won't be alone. During my eight days, I crossed paths with three other through-hikers at various points. But the trail is definitely built for bikes, and you'll need some creativity/flexibility during your walk to make it work. Do your research on available facilities before you leave and never pass up resources along the way. The distances between towns can be very far when you are on foot.