Pennsylvania Legacies #151: A Ride for Everyone

We celebrate Pennsylvania Trails Month with a preview of this year’s PEC Public Lands Ride and the 11th annual PEC Environment Ride.

As summer comes to an end, we’re looking forward to cooler weather, changing leaves, and Pennsylvania Trails Month! Pennsylvania is home to millions of acres of public lands and over 12,000 miles of trails — so no matter where you are in the state, a great bike ride is never too far away. 

This fall, PEC is hosting multiple cycling events around the state: the Public Lands Ride, and the Environment Ride. Both events help showcase the beauty and variety of Pennsylvania’s landscapes, as well as PEC’s work to preserve waterways and public lands across the Commonwealth. The events and routes feature a mix of gravel roads, dirt trails, and paved surfaces, and can accommodate a variety of experience and skill levels. 

Helena Kotala, Mapping Coordinator

The first of these events is the Public Lands Ride, which includes both an in-person option at Black Moshannon State Park, as well as four virtual routes.

The one-day, in-person ride is scheduled for Saturday, October 2, 2021 and will once again be based out of the beach area at Black Moshannon State Park. There will be three different route options — 25, 45 and 65 mile — with aid stations spaced about every 15 miles. For those who are new to biking on unpaved surfaces, the shortest route of the Public Lands Ride is a great introduction.

“We had some people that were very new to gravel riding and I think it’s a really great event for that because we don’t have the competitive aspect,” said Helena Kotala, PEC’s Mapping Coordinator.  

Reynolds Spring Road on the Tioga State Forest virtual route.


In addition, four new virtual routes are available for anyone to ride at their convenience. The virtual option was added last year as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People loved the virtual idea so much, and we got a lot of feedback that it got people out to new areas that they never would have explored on their own without these mapped routes,” said Kotala.

Each virtual route begins and ends in state parks that offer camping, so riders are encouraged to stay the night and explore other outdoor recreation opportunities the parks have to offer.

New virtual routes:


We got a lot of feedback that [the virtual routes] got people out to new areas that they never would have explored on their own


Patrick Starr, Executive VP

The weekend after the in-person Public Lands Ride event, we’ll be hosting the 3-day Environment Ride, which helps raise funds for PEC’s conservation work. This will be the 11th year of the Ride. Each year it attracts a small group of dedicated riders, as well as new participants excited to spend three days exploring the landscape in Southeast Pennsylvania.

“It’s an intimate ride, this is not a big, huge event,” said PEC Executive VP Patrick Starr, who participates in the Ride every year.  

This year’s ride will highlight Pennsylvania’s role in improving water quality in the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays. For something different, we selected the Eastern Shore of Maryland as our destination.

Last year’s Environment Riders.

On Friday, October 8th, we will meet at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station to board a train for the first leg of our journey. Upon arrival in Wilmington, we’ll hop on our bikes and begin our trek on the Jack-Markell Trail from Wilmington to Newcastle and on to our lunch in Delaware City with a view of the Delaware Bay.  After lunch we bike to Chestertown, Maryland.

Day two will be spent on the Eastern shore of Maryland, exploring small towns, bingeing on local crab, and enjoying scenic routes along the bay as we head back to Wilmington.  On day two, riders have the option to complete a full century (100+ miles) ride. We’ll celebrate our long ride with a leisurely dinner along the Christina River.

Sunday will reprise last year’s Day-3 ride. We will ride through the Brandywine River Valley to Valley Forge National Historic Park, stopping for lunch at the Rushton preserve in Edgmont. From there, riders will coast down the Schuylkill River Trail to Philadelphia.

A note on COVID-19: 

As we head back to in-person events and responses to COVID-19 continue to evolve, PEC will be monitoring guidance from the CDC and others in order to have appropriate safety protocols in place at our events. These may vary based on the type of event and other factors and may include masking and social distance requirements, proof of vaccination, and/or other precautions. Please stay tuned as the event(s) approach and we will keep you updated.  Thanks so much for joining us!



Public Lands Ride registration

Environment Ride registration