Road Biking Western Pennsylvania  by Jim Homerosky

Road Biking Western Pennsylvania Guide Book

by Jim Homerosky (Falcon Guides)
Road Biking Western Pennsylvania  by Jim Homerosky
From the flat roads in Erie to the urban streets of Pittsburgh and the rural byways and mountainous terrain of the Southern Alleghenies, enjoy the dramatic diversity of Western Pennsylvania on two wheels. Here are over 30 carefully designed tours, which range in length from 11 miles to 101 miles, and cover a wide range of abilities and fitness levels. You get complete information about each ride, including directions, length, terrain, and traffic conditions; vivid descriptions of points of interest; brief listings of restaurants, accommodations, bike shops, and restrooms along the way; detailed maps and elevation profiles.

© 2004 Jim Homerosky/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Road Biking Western Pennsylvania" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 34.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 34.

Crossing the Allegheny Mountains has always presented a problem. In the 1800s the Horseshoe Curve was built so that locomotives could circumvent the steep slopes. Today cyclists must rely on their own sheer muscle power. But once up and over the mountains, cyclists are rewarded with premier cycling roads and incredible views. The Altoona Challenge offers a stop at Horseshoe Curve National Historic Site to learn more of this engineering marvel and to get up close and personal with the roaring diesels. Cycle through sleepy Cambria County towns such as Loretto, whose Catholic roots are very evident. After a long, gradual descent, be challenged again by climbing the Alleghenies once more. After a thrilling descent back to Altoona, take the opportunity to explore the city’s railroading heritage.
Altoona, PA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 42
Two exciting rides leave from Brady’s Run Park in Beaver County. A short ramble slowly climbs the South Branch of Brady’s Run amidst the region’s picturesque farms, orchards, and woodlands. Gentle rollers along croplands and pastures are a prelude to a fantastic descent back down to the park. A longer cruise explores the western reaches of Beaver County and drops to Fredericktown, Ohio, where remnants remind us of its life long ago. Negley offers a chance to refuel as you cruise back into Pennsylvania and Darlington. A few tough hills will offer some challenge before a thrilling descent back to Brady’s Run Park. Plan your tour in early April and enjoy a pancake breakfast, with syrup of course, during Brady’s Run Park’s Maple Syrup Festival.
Darlington, PA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 37
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Three rides of varying lengths and ability levels are featured in Bedford County. The 16-mile out-and-back ramble is a flat ride that starts in Osterburg and passes several of Bedford County’s renowned covered bridges. Take a short detour to visit the Reynoldsdale Fish Culture Station and learn how trout are raised for stocking our streams. The 18-mile cruise and the 41-mile challenge start in downtown Bedford and cover a little more ground—and hills. After a quick exit from downtown, both rides offer miles of low-traffic and great scenery roads through picturesque farmlands. Complement your ride with a walking tour of Historic Downtown Bedford, featuring a remarkably slower pace of life. Step back in time with a stay at the historic Jean Bonnet Tavern, serving travelers like you for 240 years.
Bedford, PA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 41
Situated in southern Erie and northern Crawford Counties, the Cambridge Springs ramble and cruise are relatively easy and tranquil tours of the farmlands and woodlands surrounding the meandering French Creek. Pass through the Western State Game Farm on your way to Cambridge Springs, home of the Riverside Inn. Stop for lunch or even the night at this beautiful inn and learn the history of the town and mineral springs that started it all. Finish the ride in Edinboro, a lively college town and home to the Crossroads Diner, where you can dine in an authentic streetcar.
Cambridge Springs, PA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 34
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Starting in Hollidaysburg, the Canoe Creek Ramble is an enchanting tour of the “loop” area of central Blair County. Enjoy fabulous views of surrounding mountains without needing to climb any on this gently rolling tour. Stop at Canoe Creek State Park and tour the limestone kilns that reflect the region’s industrial heritage. Roll down Scotch Valley back to Hollidaysburg and cycle past its countless historic buildings reflecting many architectural styles. Plan a visit in late July and take in America’s largest bicycling stage race, the International Tour de Toona. The Canoe Creek Ramble is a delightful tour of the “loop” area, a fertile rolling valley nestled between Loop, Lock, and Brush Mountains. Starting in historic Hollidaysburg, the route quickly leaves the town for some fantastic country cycling. Mountains always appear, but the route turns just in time to avoid any real climbing obstacles.
Hollidaysburg, PA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 28
The Cook Forest Ramble is a delightful spin through a deep, dark forest of old-growth timber. Combine your tour with a short hike on one of the many trails in the state park. Plan a picnic along the scenic and gentle Clarion River and take a refreshing dip in its invigorating waters. After your ramble, rent a canoe or inner tube and enjoy the river as hundreds of Clarion University students do. Spend the night at the Gateway Lodge, one of the top country inns in the United States.
Cooksburg, PA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 18
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Starting in Martinsburg, the Cycle the Southern Alleghenies Cruise is a premier biking tour among the countless dairy farms of eastern Blair County. Nestled between two towering Allegheny ridges, the cruise rolls through the fertile valley and past picturesque farms of every variety. Stop in the small, friendly town of Williamsburg, or stay overnight in a B&B. Marvel at the many country churches, farmhouses, farm ponds and streams, and the horses and buggies of the area’s Mennonites. Even though it lacks major tourist attractions and distractions, come see why this cruise has become one of my favorites in Pennsylvania.
Martinsburg, PA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 35
The Elk View Challenge takes cyclists through one of Pennsylvania’s most remote regions. Leaving tiny Benezette, the route follows a branch of Sinnemahoning Creek downstream for a pleasant warm-up. Face the uphill challenge of renowned Wykoff Run Road, and savor the solitude of the Quehanna Wild Area. Follow the Quehanna Highway through Elk and Moshannon State Forests atop the Allegheny Plateau, before dropping back down to the streambed at Medix Run. At all times, keep your eyes and ears open for the region’s free-roaming elk herd. Seeing and hearing these magnificent creatures will highlight any visit to Pennsylvania’s “wild” country.
Benezette, PA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 48
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The Greene County Country Cruise is a rural and moderately hilly ride through southwest Pennsylvania’s picturesque countryside. Cycle through miles of pastures and farms boasting stone homes and Mail Pouch barns. With long, flat, relaxing stretches along popular trout streams, the cruise challenges with several granny-gear climbs that eventually reward with stunning ridge vistas. Spend a weekend in one of Waynesburg’s charming Victorian B&Bs and enjoy the Ryerson Station rides on your second day. Time your visit to Waynesburg for July 29 and enjoy the town’s “Rain Day” festival. The townsfolk guarantee you a wet ride.
Ruff Creek, PA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 38
The Hickory ramble and cruise offer an outstanding tour of Washington County’s small villages and bucolic countryside. Starting in Cecil Park, both routes roll through Venice, Southview, and Hickory before a decision must be made regarding the ride’s length. The cruise adds only 7 miles to the ramble route but includes several challenging hills. Both routes join and then offer some of the gentlest cycling in the county. One long but gradual hill sets cyclists up for an easy sprint to the finish. Consider a visit in early October, and take in Hickory’s popular Apple Festival, offering America’s favorite fruit in every imaginable form.
Venice, PA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 30
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Known as the Christmas Tree Capital of the World and hometown of legendary actor Jimmy Stewart, Indiana is the base for two fantastic century rides. Whether your goal is a metric or an English century, you’re sure to be challenged and even awed by the green, rolling pastures and farms that blanket Indiana County. Cycle through the largest Amish settlement in Western Pennsylvania, and share the roads with horse-drawn buggies. Cycle through fields bursting with conifers, and photograph two of the county’s picturesque covered bridges. Be challenged by Indiana’s often-rugged landscape, and painfully realize that this will not be your easiest century. After the ride, enjoy the friendly town of Indiana, and discover that its pace of life hasn’t changed much since Jimmy Stewart walked the same streets decades ago.
Indiana, PA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 101
Located almost entirely within the Allegheny National Forest, the Kinzua Cruise is a picturesque tour of the Allegheny Reservoir and surrounding woodlands. Following the popular Longhouse Scenic Byway driving tour, the cruise climbs out of the lakebed for a tough 2.5-mile warm-up. Plan a visit to the Old Powerhouse and learn how oil wells from miles around were powered from this one central building. Enjoy a long, gradual descent back to the banks of this unspoiled reservoir. Follow the roller-coaster Forest Road as you wind your way along the reservoir’s rugged western shore. Enjoy the region’s panoramic splendor from one of several overlooks. Complete your bike outing to Kinzua territory with a stop at Docksiders Cafe, where you can enjoy a celebratory dinner overlooking the reservoir.
Warren, PA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 30
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The Lake Arthur cruise and challenge are two hilly rides over the rugged and once glacier-covered terrain of Butler and Lawrence Counties. Both routes constantly roll through the region’s picturesque countryside before dropping down to McConnell’s Mill, located in the gorgeous Slippery Rock gorge. Ride through a covered bridge spanning the gushing Slippery Rock Creek and tour the historic gristmill, one of the country’s first “rolling mills.” The challenge veers off to encircle Lake Arthur, Pennsylvania’s largest man-made lake, which is extremely popular with sailing enthusiasts. Finish off the challenge with a delightful spin along the lake’s northern shoreline, or hop on the 7-mile paved bike path for an effortless ending to a rather demanding ride.
West Liberty, PA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 46
Located in the heart of the Laurel Highlands, Ligonier is one of Pennsylvania’s best small towns. Four rides are offered from this appealing town so that everyone can enjoy cycling this spectacular region, regardless of ability. An 11-mile easy out-and-back ramble winds its way along Loyalhanna Creek to Rector and includes an option to cycle up to Linn Run State Park. The 30-mile cruise explores more of the woodlands and meticulously kept farms south of the town and includes several heart-pumping hills. The 41-mile challenge turns north to the Tubmill Reservoir for a roller-coaster ride teeming with wildlife. The 65-mile classic is a combination of the challenge and the cruise that will test even the fittest cyclists. Regardless of which route you choose, plan to spend time after your ride in charming Ligonier to experience its sophisticated and hospitable character. Nestled in a valley between Chestnut Ridge to the west and Laurel Mountain to the east is the jewel of the Laurel Highlands, Ligonier. Quaint shops and cozy restaurants give the town a turn-of-the-twentieth-century flavor, highlighted by a charming bandstand in the middle of the town square affectionately known as “The Diamond.” Not only is Ligonier a pleasant town to stroll, but it serves as an excellent base for further exploration of the Laurel Highlands.
Ligonier, PA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 65
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The McConnellsburg Challenge is a challenging tour of Fulton County, lying deep in the heart of the Southern Alleghenies. Starting in the historic town of McConnellsburg, the challenge skirts towering Tuscarora Mountain before dropping down to the agriculturally rich Great Cove Valley. After a tough climb over Scrub Ridge, the route turns north with a succession of demanding roller-coaster hills. The ride finishes with a bang as a thrilling 2-mile descent drops the cyclist off in the center of McConnellsburg and offers a chance to experience the town’s history, charm, and hospitality.
McConnellsburg, PA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 40
Mingo Creek County Park in eastern Washington County is the base for two short but sweet country rides. After exploring the full length of the scenic and serene Mingo Creek County Park, the ramble offers a fine sample of rural Washington County in a relatively easy 14 miles. The 30-mile cruise adds more variety, more hills, more views, plus the opportunity to enjoy the refreshing wares of a working dairy farm. After your ride, be sure to spend some relaxing moments along Mingo’s unspoiled trout stream or on one of the park’s many hiking paths in search of its abundant wildflowers and wildlife.
Thomas, PA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 30
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The North East Wine Country offers two delightful rides—a ramble and a cruise—through the vast grape-growing fields of this Lake Erie shoreline region. Stop at one of several wineries to experience the winemaking process and, of course, to taste. Detour to Halli Reid Park and take a refreshing dip in Lake Erie at Freeport Beach. Meander along the rural country roads through one of the highest concentrations of wineries in the country. Time your visit with the renowned Wine Country Harvest Festival for a celebration of the wine industry and lots of grape-stomping fun. Two rides are detailed here for the North East wine country; a 22-mile ramble and a 34-mile cruise. The longer cruise encompasses the entire ramble route and adds an additional 12-mile loop. Though the additional loop is not difficult, the additional miles place the ride in the more difficult cruise category.
North East, PA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 34
Ohiopyle offers the cyclist three exciting tours of the Youghiogeny River gorge and surrounding Laurel Highlands. The easy out-and-back ramble follows the gorgeous Youghiogeny Rail-Trail to Confluence, where the ramble can be extended with a short road ride to the picture-perfect Lower Humbert Covered Bridge. The challenge and classic routes offer numerous difficult climbs throughout the Laurel Highlands that will test even the fittest cyclist. Plan your classic ride as a two-day outing and camp for the night in peaceful Laurel Hill State Park. Cruise Indiantown Road, one of the premier biking roads in Somerset County. Enjoy lunch at the cyclist-friendly River’s Edge Cafe overlooking the cool Yough River. Spend additional time in Ohiopyle and test your nerves with a white-water rafting trip down the Yough’s Class III and IV rapids. Relax the pace with a visit to Fallingwater, architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece built over a waterfall and one of the most famous private homes ever built.
Ohiopyle, PA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 65
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The Titusville area offers two very different cycling opportunities. The ramble takes cyclists along the Oil Creek Bicycle Trail for a relaxing out-and-back ride to the Drake Well Museum. Visit the full-scale replica of the Drake Well and learn how this valley “changed the world” in 1859. For the energetic, the challenge route climbs out of the Oil Creek gorge and visits Pithole City, one of America’s largest oil boomtowns, whose fame lasted all of two years. More climbing brings the cyclist to Pleasantville, where several inviting restaurants await. After a long, gradual descent into Titusville, pick up the paved Oil Creek Bicycle Trail at the Drake Museum site and be rewarded with a relaxing ride all the way back to Petroleum Center.
Petroleum Center, PA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 31
Located at the confluence of the Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio Rivers, Pittsburgh is a modern, cosmopolitan city that still retains small-town friendliness and charm. The Pittsburgh City Cruise explores many of the distinct ethnic neighborhoods that characterize one of America’s most livable cities. Cycle through the vibrant and colorful Strip District and pick up some fresh fruit to take on your ride. Challenge the hill in Highland Park while cycling past the renowned natural-habitat Pittsburgh Zoo. Enjoy a lunch and the trendy shops and boutiques in Squirrel Hill. Ride through the campus of the University of Pittsburgh and marvel at its Cathedral of Learning. Cycle up East Carson Street on Pittsburgh’s South Side for a different flavor of this unique city. Finally, enjoy riding through the heart of Pittsburgh’s downtown, where the city’s passion for sports and the performing arts is proudly displayed.
Pittsburgh, PA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 19
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