Motorcycle roads through the great state of Pennsylvania offer some of East Coast’s best riding experiences. There are countless motorways, including 21 scenic byways, that cross picturesque farmland, wind through forested areas and travel between rural villages and charming country towns. From beautiful scenery to great history, there’s lots to see, and even more to do when you want to take a break and get off the motorcycle. Pennsylvania has a route for every taste and liking – just take your pick from the roads that interest you most, and go. Miles and miles of riding with twists, big sweeping turns, altitude changes and great sights to see are waiting for you.
Ready to be whisked away from the distractions of your daily life into the world of amazing scenery and rich history? Here are five rides in the Keystone State that will pack your days with as much beauty and riding fun as you can handle.
Photo credit: Sons of Unions Veterans of The Civial War
Grand Army of the Republic Highway – US Route 6
The historic Grand Army of the Republic Highway a.k.a. US Route 6, traverses the Northern tier of Pennsylvania, offering delightful riding through some of the region’s best-loved sights and attractions. More of a journey than a ride, this route boasts gentle curves, long flowing sweeps and some modest elevation changes. The road is pretty easy to navigate and if you’re looking for hairpin turns or switchbacks, you won’t find any here. Instead, you’ll find miles of great scenery along the road that continually rises and falls with enough curves to keep you interested.
US Route 6 is a favorite of motorcycle touring enthusiasts not just because of the big sweeps and turns as it crosses the state. It’s a chance to rediscover the history of our nation that draws riders from all over to this highway. The route is a true slice of Americana that is liberally dotted with small towns full of interesting sights, sounds and stories. Visit the old coal mining towns of Honesdale and Carbondale, descend 300 feet into a Lackawanna Coal Mine, ride a steam train, eat in the famous 1930’s Wellsboro Diner, check out the many grand Victorian homes that grace the streets of the small towns of Wellsboro, Smethport and Coudersport, and above all, meet the hardworking people of the local communities— all on Pennsylvania’s portion of the Grand Army of the Republic Highway.
You can start your trip from the east, at the town of Milford, PA, right on the New York border. At the western boundary, the route begins at the town of Pennline, PA, north of I-80. From Milford, you will be climbing a long, winding road out of the Delaware River Valley. Heading west, Route 6 will take you through hardwood forests and past beautiful lakes, common in the Pocono Mountains region. Just 11 miles west of Wellsboro on Route 660, a brief detour is recommended. Here you’ll find the highlight of this route – the spectacular Pine Creek Gorge, commonly referred to as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. The gorge continues for approximately 47 miles and drops almost 1500 feet at its deepest point. Midway between the towns of Galeton and Coudersport is another must-visit attraction on the route – Pennsylvania Lumber Museum. It features a replica logging camp of the 1800s which depicts the rugged lifestyle of the wood hicks.
From start to finish the road is in great condition and traffic is generally light. The Grand Army of the Republic Highway ends just East of Sheffield and if you do the entire ride, you will hit absolutely all of the best sights that Northern Pennsylvania has to offer.
Photo Credit: Pennsylvania.com
Even though Lincoln Highway stretches from coast to coast, in Pennsylvania, much of it is known as Route 30. The highway runs west along Rt. 30, passing through Lancaster, York, Gettysburg, Chambersburg, Breezewood, Pittsburgh and other towns and leaving the state west of Beaver. This portion of the highway is loaded with historic landmarks, interpretive exhibits, beautiful murals, roadside giant sculptures and other Pennsylvania attractions. There are great photo ops, charming country towns and scenic views – it’s Americana at its best. A special 200-mile section of Route 30 between Abbottstown and Irwin is celebrated as one of the Commonwealth’s Heritage Areas. Known as Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor, it’s like traveling a 200-mile museum through the Allegheny Mountains where you have a unique opportunity to interact with history.
Aside of great history, Route 30 offers motorcycle riders the best of everything one could ask for in a ride. Twisties and bends, nice sweeping turns, long straightaways, altitude changes and inspiring scenery that can be admired from many lookout points along the way. Take Route 30 from Breezewood, PA to Chambersburg, PA. The ride gets quite challenging from the intersection of Rt. 75 with some curves, a hairpin at the summit and a lot of mountains to go up and down, but the views of the valleys are totally worth it.
Just off the highway near Somerset, be sure to stop and see the Flight 93 memorial site. It will leave you with a heavy heart. About 4 miles west of Rt. 75, at the very top of the Tusacarora mountain, pull over at the Mountain House Bar and Grill. The parking lot here provides a stunning panoramic view of the valley below. And the food is good too. Another great stop to eat on this route is Jean Bonnet Tavern, just west of Bedford, at the intersection of Routes 30 and 31. You’ll enjoy fine dinning at this historic Bed and Breakfast that dates back to the 1700s.
It’s up to you how long you want your ride on Route 30 to last. If you’re willing to stop at all the “Americana” places along the way, be sure to give yourself extra time. With grand views, great road quality and rich history, you’ll enjoy every minute you spend on this amazing route.
Photo Credit: Playle.com
Gold Mine Road to Route 125
Many motorcycle riders refer to Gold Mine Road to Route 125 as Pennsylvania’s Tail of the Dragon, and for a good reason. The road comes very close to the gold standard of ultimate motorcycle roads. The combination of Goldmine Road and PA125 makes for a roller-coaster type of a ride featuring a series of steep climbs and descents with sharp corners, a few sneaky turns, blind crests and tight switchbacks, with some wide open spaces, rolling hills and gentle corners thrown in for good measure. Not a ride for the beginner, there are sections of the road that will challenge your skill and give your motor, brakes and tires a good work out. Many 15 mph corners at the top and bottom of steep climbs, ”S” turns and twisties to add to the peg-scraping action.
Gold Mine Road runs between Rt. 443 and Tower City, PA. Start off Rt. 443 and take Gold Mine Road for 7 miles up to PA 325. Make a right on PA 325 eastbound into Tower City and go 1.5 miles to US 209. Turn right on US 209 heading east and go 4.8 miles to Main Street and turn left. Go 1.7 miles to the stop sign and go straight through. That’s where you pick up Route 125. Stay on Rt. 125 for 15 miles to Shamokin – the end point. The ride is around 32 (challenging) miles. You can continue north on Rt. 61 to Shamokin Dam.
Traveling on Gold Mine Road to Route 125 is all about the road itself. Don’t expect any roadside attractions or noteworthy places to stop along the way. The route is very scenic nonetheless. You can take it easy and enjoy the scenery as the road takes you through forested areas, farmlands and open valleys. And when you’re ready to give your brakes and tires some rest, there are places to stop and enjoy beautiful views from mountaintops.
The roads are all smooth, well maintained and well marked. Food and gas are available in the only town on the route, which is Tower City. In Shamokin at the ride’s end point, you’ll find many restaurants and stores. One of the best places to eat is Skeeter’s BBQ, located on the hill at the intersection of routes 15 and 11. Another place you might want to stop for lunch at is Harry’s on Market Street. It’s a great place serving great food at great prices.
Gold Mine Road to Route 125 is fun dragging the pegs on and is probably the best road to test your alertness, leaning skills and braking. It’s a great half day ride for anyone in Eastern Pennsylvania.
PA 26 – MD border to Everett
PA Route 26 is a great tune up for Gold Mine Road to Route 125, that Dragon of Pennsylvania. This little hidden away route is especially recommended for those riders who like twisties and tight corners and don’t care to scrape pegs. Winding its way through farmland and woods, PA Route 26 offers plenty of twists, turns, uphill and downhill riding and a couple of 10 mph hairpins, so you’d better stay alert on this road. The best part about Rt. 26 is its solitude. There’s a good chance that you’ll see no other vehicles in either direction the entire ride. What you might see is a deer or two, so take it slow on those turns.
Another thing to enjoy on Route 26 is great scenery. Beautiful views greet you everywhere you turn. From Everett, PA southbound on Rt. 26 you’ll be going through a section of Buchanan State Forest where you’ll have a chance to admire nature at its best. The road surface is smooth and pretty much unblemished throughout the route, but it changes abruptly as you approach the Maryland border. Be careful and reduce your speed. Aside of scenery and the road itself, there’s really nothing along the route. Be sure to gas up beforehand. For a biker-friendly place to eat, visit Mike’s Place in Clearville, 6 miles before Everett. It is a great diner with awesome food.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
PA Route 44
If you like roads that wander left and right more than they go straight, roads that require concentration, forcing you to find the right balance of throttle, brake, lean angle and body position, we have a perfect road for you – PA Route 44. This route is a 70 plus miles of serpentine road that runs from Jersey Shore, PA to Coudersport, PA through the Susquehannock State Forest. Route 44 is a true find for any motorcycle rider – from nature lover to adrenaline enthusiast. This secluded ride is full of great views of nature along with everything else that makes an exhilarating ride – fast pace turns, elevation changes and sweepers.
You can enter Route 44 just south of the town of Williamsport, PA. From there the route is easy to follow going northwest all the way up to Coudersport, PA. Other than the road with its natural beauty and fun curves, there are few signs of humankind on the route. It’s basically just you and nature throughout the entire ride. There are no crossroads or traffic lights here and a few signs of enforcement, too. Best of all, there is almost no traffic! With very little to slow you down, you may find yourself picking up the pace, but sight lines are short on this curvy road and there are some blind turns too, so keep it reasonable. Be advised that there is no gas or food along the way until you get to the Germania Hotel in Galeton. So make sure you gas up and pack a lunch before you start the ride. Whether you’re looking for awesome scenery or a road with great twists and turns, PA Route 44 will not disappoint.
As is evident from the road descriptions above, Pennsylvania offers a lot of great riding opportunities, with abundance of fun twists and curves, beautiful scenery and interesting history along the way. Just choose a route and hit the road. And when you come to the end of that one, pick another route and keep going. An unforgettable riding adventure is guaranteed!
Header photo credit: Mike Mekinda Flickr