For bikers with some time and an interest in exploring, look at these new long-distance routes through Pa.’s forests

August 11, 2021 Penn Live
PEC in the News

A half-dozen new biking exploration routes and one in-person event on gravel roads and mixed-surface trails have been added to the Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s Public Lands Ride program for 2021.

The in-person event will return on Oct. 2 to Black Moshannon State Park in Centre County, where the program launched with an in-person event in 2019.

In response to the pandemic and associated restrictions, in 2020 the program turned to a virtual version by offering online descriptions and links to maps for six routes but no in-person event.

For 2021 the program has blended its previous versions.

The one-day, in-person ride on Oct. 2 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 miles — with aid stations spaced about every 15 miles.

There will be camping available at the group campsite Friday and Saturday nights, and campsites and cabins are also available to rent via the state park’s reservation system.

In the meantime, Helena Kotala, mapping coordinator for the PEC, has been scouting the six new routes and posting detailed descriptions of each on the Public Lands Ride pages of the PEC website. Here are the overviews of the four routes she has posted so far:

From Rivers to Ridges in Elk State Forest, 55.1 miles: “This route takes riders from the valleys of the First Fork and Driftwood Branches of the Sinnemahoning Creek to the top of the surrounding ridges. Climbs are long but mellow, gradually winding up valleys amid the gentle gurgle of cool creeks. The tops offer views of endless tree-covered layers of mountains and rolling terrain. There are 2 state parks along the route — Sizerville and Sinnemahoning. Both have camping and other amenities, and either makes a great starting point for the ride.” For more details on the route, visit

Land of the Waterfalls in Loyalsock State Forest, 54.9 miles: “Worlds End State Park and Loyalsock State Forest are located northeast of Williamsport and most notably boast countless waterfalls, rugged trails and great vistas. The state park itself sits in a valley along Loyalsock Creek, and this route will take riders to the surrounding mountaintops. Bring your camera and climbing legs for this one.” For more details, visit

Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon in Tioga State Forest, 63.4 miles: “Colton Point State Park is located at the edge of the Pine Creek Gorge, also known as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. It is the gateway for this ride at the northern end of the gorge, which hugs the west rim, drops to the Pine Creek Rail Trail, and climbs back up to the tops of squiggly ridges via long creek valleys. Get ready for a remote feel, plenty of vistas and little cell service. There are options to add some adventure and chunk, but the route as mapped sticks to gravel roads with only about a mile of pavement in the entire 63-mile ride.” For more details, visit

Ups and Downs in Michaux State Forest, 45.8 miles: “The South Mountain (aka “Southy”) region of Michaux below Rt. 30 is a lesser-known section of the popular state forest but not for lack of goods. Don’t let the lower mileage of this route compared with other Public Lands Ride routes fool you. Part of the ride that isn’t climbing or descending (over 5,000 feet worth over 45 miles), and a couple rugged sections of trail add a bit of flavor. Make sure you have plenty of sealant in your tires and tools to fix a flat. There is a reliable water source 15 miles and 35 miles in though, so it’s a decent choice for a hot day.” For more details, visit

The PEC website also includes the detailed descriptions of the six routes developed for the program last year: Parker Dam State Park/Moshannon State Forest, Trough Creek State Park/Rothrock State Forest, R.B. Winter State Park/Bald Eagle State Forest, Reeds Gap State Park/Bald Eagle State Forest, Laurel Ridge State Park/Forbes State Forest and Black Moshannon State Park/Moshannon State Forest.

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