Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania
Immerse yourself in a long weekend of cycling and camping in the spectacular Pine Creek Gorge of central Pennsylvania. At 1,450 feet deep and nearly a mile wide, the gorge is a designated National Natural Landmark and is commonly known as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. We will ride through the entire gorge on the quiet, car-free crushed-stone surface of the Pine Creek Rail Trail, paralleling the meandering creek. While popular for canoeing, kayaking, tubing, and fishing, this is really quite a delightfully remote area. The only “traffic” we might encounter may be a horse-drawn wagon.
With a modest number of daily miles and very mild terrain, this trip is a great way to discover, or rediscover, the freedom and empowerment of self-contained bicycle travel. We will experience both primitive and full-service camping as we enjoy stunning natural scenery and group camaraderie. Come join the challenge and fun of pedaling through the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, and gain a new natural perspective of this beautiful part of our country.
"I'm already dreaming of my next tour. Not sure where or when it will be, but I am sure there will be one sooner rather than later!"
Day 1. Jersey Shore to Bonnell Flats, Pennsylvania, 8 miles
Meet up with your group in the small town of Jersey Shore (in central Pennsylvania, not in New Jersey!) in the morning for an orientation meeting at the trailhead to the Pine Creek Rail Trail. After getting acquainted and poring over the maps and other trip information, we will split into groups for supermarket shopping, conveniently located adjacent to the trailhead. After shopping, we'll pack our group groceries and group gear onto our bikes, and start our adventure by riding on the trail to a beautiful (but basic) campground.
Day 2. Bonnell Flats to Cedar Run, 26 miles
Today, and on all days of our tour, we will ride entirely on the Pine Creek Rail Trail, heading northward with a slight uphill grade of approximately 2%. We are bound to see canoeists and kayakers heading opposite our travel direction, so don't just look down at the creek, look up too! See if you can spot the viewing areas high above, on the east rim of the gorge. That's Little Pine State Park towering above the steep canyon walls and cliffs. Continuing northward, our campground is located immediately adjacent to the trail and close to the cute town of Cedar Run with a timeless General Store. With the relatively modest number of miles today, there is likely to be time to swim or wade in the creek at the campground before the cooking crew prepares dinner. We'll set up camp here for two nights so we can enjoy many amenities, such as showers, coin-op laundry, and a campground store, even though we are staying in an otherwise remote location at the bottom of a spectacular gorge.
Day 3. Cedar Run to Wellsboro to Cedar Run, up to 59 miles
Don't let today's mileage concern you as this is an out-and-back riding day to the north end of the rail trail — you can turn around whenever you'd like. There will be many opportunities to enjoy and explore waterfalls and short hikes accessed directly from the Pine Creek Rail Trail. Be sure to check out the aptly named Rattlesnake Rock, with great rocks to explore within the creek, but use caution as you could be sharing your sunny perch with a slithering snake! If you're looking for a little extra motivation to reach the northern terminus of the trail, then picture a cute farmstand that serves ice cream and other refreshments.
Day 4. Cedar Run to Jersey Shore, 32 miles
We'll have a final breakfast at our campsite before we ride back to Jersey Shore on the Pine Creek Rail Trail. We will retrace the route we took on Days 1 and 2, with opportunities to explore trailside features that may have been missed on the earlier days. Emerging from this spectacular natural gorge into the broadening valley, our overall perspectives will also have broadened thanks to experiencing nature's amazing creations. There is no better way to end a wonderful weekend of bike travel adventures shared with a great group of people in the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.