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Bike Route S in Southern Pennsylvania

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Bike Route S in Southern Pennsylvania

Old 02-28-20, 10:08 AM
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mdadams1
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Bike Route S in Southern Pennsylvania

Has anyone ridden the whole S route in southern PA? What is it like? How long is it?
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Old 03-02-20, 12:03 PM
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indyfabz
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I have ridden much of it.

Started on the GAP in Pittsburgh. Instead of getting off the GAP at Rockwood and going through Somerset I stayed on the GAP until the end in Cumberland, MD, then took a local road to U.S. 220 and rejoined Route S in Bedford. Next detour was in Breezewood. Instead of climbing the hill on busy U.S. 30 I rode the abandoned stretch of PA Turnpike. From there, it was easy to get back on Route S. Next detour started in Lancaster County near New Holland. I am from Philly so I know alternate roads that are nicer and keep you off PA 23 more. Also, I camped at French Creek the last night on the road, which is no on Route S. Took a few more detours in Chester County that took me to Phoenixville, where I picked up the Schuykill River Trail to Philly.

I have done good portions of Route V and Route Y. Of the three, Route S was the attractive. It's not horrible, just not the best. The worst parts are getting through York and into and out of the city of Lancaster. But it is convenient transportation-wise. You can now take your bike on the NYC train that terminates in Pittsburgh if you want to start there. It's also the least hilly of the three cross-state routes, although the section between Bedford and Cowans Gap State Park has a lot of climbing. As noted above, you can flatten out part of that by taking the abandoned Turnpike, which is a fun ride. You will probably want at least 28c tires, and you need a good light for the two unlit tunnels. One of them is over a mile long and has a crown heading east, which means you literally cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel until you get closer to the east portal.

If you are thinking about camping there are options on or close to the route, including Cowans Gap and Caledonia State Parks.

Don't know how long it is. I did the above in 8 days, with a short day between Burnt Cabins and Caledonia. Carried full camping and cooking gear.
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Old 03-05-20, 12:08 PM
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For the first time I selected the regional discussions and happened upon this. I have seen these green signs near me and always wondered what they are for? I guess they are route indicators? After doing a little searching I can find a list of these routes but is anyone aware of a site with maps?

I have to say where I have seen these signs near me and once on a vacation in Gaines PA I would not ride them. The route I saw in Gaines you would get run over in a half hour.
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Old 03-05-20, 01:41 PM
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Pa Bike Routes

Zoomable but not as friendly as some online info

(Hey -- that's PennDot!)

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Old 03-09-20, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by TKJava View Post

I have to say where I have seen these signs near me and once on a vacation in Gaines PA I would not ride them. The route I saw in Gaines you would get run over in a half hour.
Funny you should mention that. In 2017 I rode much of Route Y and actually camped in Gaines (Snyder's Family Campground after shopping in Galeton. Started in Erie and picked up Route Y in Union City. Detoured onto PA 59 at Warren at picked up Route Y again in Smethport. For the most part there was relatively light traffic on a post-Labor Day weekday in September. The next day I hopped on the Pine Creek Trail at Ansonia. Saw a bear later that morning.

Timing can be important. I would expect something like PA 59 to have a lot more traffic during the summer since it goes through a popular recreation area. But post-Labor Day, when kids are back in school, the weekday was not bad at all. Had the road to myself much of the time.


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Old 03-09-20, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Funny you should mention that. In 2017 I rode much of Route Y and actually camped in Gaines (Snyder's Family Campground after shopping in Galeton. Started in Erie and picked up Route Y in Union City. Detoured onto PA 59 at Warren at picked up Route Y again in Smethport. For the most part there was relatively light traffic on a post-Labor Day weekday in September. The next day I hopped on the Pine Creek Trail at Ansonia. Saw a bear later that morning.

Timing can be important.

The time we were in Gains, we rented a small house, one morning a bear was up near the kitchen window trying to check out the trash on the deck outside. I have not been that up close and personal with a black bear in the past. I'm glad I saw it through the window and not face to face taking out the garbage. Would you happen to have a link to these bike roads / trails with maps? I have not found one yet.
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Old 03-09-20, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by TKJava View Post
The time we were in Gains, we rented a small house, one morning a bear was up near the kitchen window trying to check out the trash on the deck outside. I have not been that up close and personal with a black bear in the past. I'm glad I saw it through the window and not face to face taking out the garbage. Would you happen to have a link to these bike roads / trails with maps? I have not found one yet.
See post #4 above with a link to the on line maps, which leave a lot to be desired.

The morning before I saw the bear on the Pine Creek Trail I was in a commercial campground near the junction of PA 59 and U.S. 219, west of Smethport. The place abutted the Allegheny National Forest and, interestingly, FCI McKean. The later is the medium security federal prison where actor Wesley Snipes served two years for tax evasion. The place hosts mostly season campers. There were old signs around warning people of bear sightings and not to leave trash in front of their sites. When I woke up in the morning and went to toss some papers I saw that the two non-secure dumpsters had been raided, and there was a large pile of scat with a paw print in it. After using the head I walked back to my tent and saw another pile of scat maybe 35' from the tent. Kept my head on a swivel while making breakfast and packing up. Rolled the bike around to the office near the dumpsters and leaned it up against a bench. It wasn't fully light yet. Put on my helmet and was about to turn on my lights when I heard bottles and cans clinking. Looked over at the dumpsters to see a HUGE bear walk out from between the two. He was easily 500 lbs. Likely larger. We were maybe 30' from each other at most. After a few seconds I started walking away sideways. He must have realized what a badass I am because he strolled off in another directions towards some brush. Not the way I wanted to start the morning.

Took this photo after the sun had started to rise higher. You can see the pile of scat to the right of the foam plate on the left side of the photo. The place is called Bettum's Family Campground. The mural on the left dumpster reads "Bettum's Bear Buffet." That sort of thing angers me. I have toured a good deal in bear country in Montana and Idaho, including some areas with grizzlies. There, you find bear-resistant dumpsters. Sure, they cost more, you are protecting both wildlife and people.

Saw the bugger pictured in the second photo below last year during a day off in NW Montana.




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