The Great Allegheny Passage is one of Western Pennsylvania’s major tourist destinations, and one of the country’s most popular rail trails. It receives over a million visits each year, and that number only continues to grow. Over its 150 miles from Cumberland, MD to Pittsburgh, the GAP has an enormous impact, not only on the individuals that visit the trail, but on the towns and counties through which it travels.
A new analysis by consulting firm Fourth Economy helps quantify the impact of the GAP on the region. Overall, they found that the regional economic impact for 2019 from GAP tourism was $121 million. That comes out to more than $800,000 per mile! Fourth Economy surveyed 64 stakeholders along the trail, 125 business owners, 784 GAP users, and 163 trail town residents to learn about spending habits, business revenue, and general attitudes toward the trail. Read more about the results of the study here.
With trail season winding down, the GAP now has to prepare for the coming spring and the start to another busy year. PEC joined the GAP Conservancy for the winter closing of the Big Savage Tunnel in Somerset County, an annual tradition to protect the tunnel from the cold and wind. A couple of cyclists were able to sneak through before the tunnel officially closed, but if you’re looking to visit this section of the GAP, you’ll have to wait until the weather warms in March or April.