• Paddling on the Potomac River

    Potomac Heritage

    National Scenic Trail DC,MD,PA,VA

Great Allegheny Passage Hike 22

Cumberland to Frostburg

How's this sound for a day in the mountains of Western Maryland? You can walk this segment in the morning, have lunch in Frostburg, then take the scenic railroad back to Cumberland. This entire segment is along the tracks of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. In most places you can walk next to the tracks on ballast or dirt. Use care when crossing bridges or passing through the Brush Tunnel. If it is open, check on the train schedule at the depot. After leaving the depot and avoiding parked railcars, climb steadily to the "Narrows." Just past here you will cross a trestle over a road and creek. Within two miles you reach Helmstetters Curve, a long scenic hairpin turn. Another mile brings you to the 963 foot Brush Tunnel. From here just follow the tracks to the Frostburg Depot. You have now come 16 miles from Cumberland.

 

Trip Planner

Start: Cumberland depot
End: Frostburg depot
Miles: 16.0
Points of Interest: Cumberland (0.0 mi.), The Narrows (1.0 mi.), Helmstetters Curve (3.0 mi.), Brush Tunnel (6.0 mi.), Frostburg (16.0 mi.)
Parking: Cumberland (0.0 mi.), Frostburg (16.0 mi.)
Water: Cumberland, Frostburg
Restroom or Privy: Cumberland, Frostburg
Provisions: Cumberland, Frostburg
Camping: None

 

Hike Data

Mile Navigation
0 Cumberland at canal terminus and Visitors Center. To continue on the PHT follow the tracks of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad north from the station.
1.0 "The Narrows." The track clings to a hill here above Alternate US 40.
3.0 Helmstetters Curve. Long "horsehoe" curve that attracts train fans daily.
6.0 Brush Tunnel. This 963-foot tunnel was built in 1911. The wide gravel path you follow in the tunnel used to be a second track.
16.0 Frostburg Depot. This depot and the last few miles into Frostburg are actually part of the old Cumberland & Potomac Railroad. From the depot you are only a short block up the hill to the main street and shops, restaurants and motels. To continue north, follow the connector path to the Great Allegheny Passage trailhead.


 

Explore the PHT

Frostburg
This little town is a mixture of the very old and new with railroad history combining with the changes brought by Frostburg University. The early development of the town centered around the coming of the National Road in 1811. Between here and Cumberland there are plenty of reminders of the National Road including mileposts and the restored LaValle Toll House. By 1863 the last stage coach traveled the road, but by then the railroad had come. The first coal mined in Western Maryland was near here in 1846. Between then and 1915 the town prospered. Today, numerous buildings survive from that era. Much of the town has recently been declared a National Historic District. Frostburg is served by Greyhound.

Western Maryland Railroad
Nineteenth century industrialist Jay Gould's line was a latecomer to the railroad scene, not arriving until the early 1900s. His competitor, the Baltimore & Ohio, chose longer routes along rivers and through gaps. The Western Maryland chose more direct routes, building tunnels and trestles where necessary. This meant higher maintenance costs and probably contributed to the demise of the line. Today the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad takes countryside visitors from Cumberland to Frostburg. For a truly multi-modal day of recreation, hike one way and enjoy the train ride back.

Did You Know?

actor portraying George Washington at Fort Necessity

As a young man in the 1750s, George Washington made four trips over the Allegheny Mountains. He was shot at by the Indians or French during each of these trips. Despite having four holes shot through his coat and two horse shot out from under him, he escaped being hit by any musket balls.