A particularly nice section of PA-44 near Upper Pine Bottom State Park; image used under Creative Commons License.

Popular Motorcycle Roads in Northern Pennsylvania

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Looking for a place to ride in Pennsylvania?  You may be surprised to hear that Pennsylvania has a variety of good motorcycle roads to choose from.  With many historic sites along the way dating back to the state’s central role in founding the United States. 

This article takes a look at rides in the Pennsylvania forests around the scenic Pine Creek Valley near Wellsboro.  The landscape of north Pennsylvania is a mixture of rolling hills and forests that characterize northeastern Appalachia and assure riders the area won’t disappoint.  Discover some of the most popular motorcycle roads the Keystone State has to offer.

When to Ride

The weather in North Pennsylvania is best described as cold in the winter and warm in the summer, but rarely at the extremes.   Average temperatures move up to the mid 50’s (Fahrenheit) as early as late April, peak near 80 degrees in July, and then slowly drop down again to the mid 50’s in October before the winter cold sets in. 

For the best combination of dry weather and moderate temperatures make plans to ride between mid-May and mid-June or late August toward the end of September.  If possible, plan around the mid-summer months; while on the plus side temperatures are at their peak, rain is more frequent with higher humidity. 

Fall colors in northern Pennsylvania are at their best during the early-to-middle part of October.  Daytime temps in October average in the mid-50’s but morning and evening temperatures will dip into the low 40’s and sometimes into the upper 30’s.  That’s not a reason to rule out an October ride, just be prepared for varied temperatures.

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What to Expect

Start with this – rolling hills, lakes rivers and creeks, small towns, two-lane roads lined by trees that add a sense of narrowness, and weather that can change by the mile.     

Highway and road sign leading into hills.
Enjoy rolling hills and roadside color along Pennsylvania State Route 44; image used under Creative Commons License.

Bring rain gear.  The northern part of the state gets several inches of rain each month from April to October.  Historically, June is the wettest, with over 4.5 inches of rain on average.

Interstates and state routes are well paved, but in rural Pennsylvania many smaller county roads are unpaved.  The destinations described in this article are all accessible on paved roads.

Essential roadside amenities, like gas and snacks, are never far away offering plenty of options to stretch along the way.

Start In Wellsboro

The town of Wellsboro is a convenient starting point for unhurried day rides in the surrounding forests and farmlands on some of the best motorcycle roads in north Pennsylvania. 

Wellsboro is a small borough in Tioga County not far south of the border with New York and mid-way between Ohio to the west and the rest of New York on the east.  The Susquehannock State Forest lies just 25 miles to the southwest of Wellsboro, and the Allegheny National Forest is only 80 miles to the west.  Getting here is an easy 10 mile ride from Interstate 99 on PA-6.

tree-lined main street.
Enjoy a relaxing walk past restaurants and shops on Main Street in Wellsboro.

Boasting a population just under 3500 (as reported in 2020), this is certainly a small town but with a character all its own.  The tree-lined Main Street is more like a boulevard with a wide landscaped lamp-lined center median that adds ambiance for quiet evening walks after a day of riding. 

The business district, filled with shops and restaurants, is concentrated in the four blocks between Central Avenue and Charleston Street.  Enjoy a late afternoon off the bike.  Check out the local shops or stop in at one of the restaurants.  The Wellsboro Diner is a popular breakfast and lunch stop.

Two notable Wellsboro landmarks worth a visit are The Green and the grave site of George Washington Sears. The Green, a park in the center of town, features an original sculpture created in 1920 by Mabel Landrum and encircled by a picturesque fountain.  The monument captures the intrepid fishermen Wynken, Blynken & Nod from the popular children’s poem of the same name.  George Washington Sears, also known by the pen name Nessmuk, is buried in nearby Wellsboro Cemetery.  He was a writer for Field & Stream in the 1880’s and an avid woodsman, and conservationist.  The following passage sums up his complicated relationship with the forest; “She may starve or freeze the poet, the scholar, the scientist; all the same, she has in store food, fuel and shelter, which the skillful, self-reliant woodsman can wring from her savage hand with axe and rifle.”  

Camp in a nearby campground if you like or settle into one of the comfortable hotels in Wellsboro proper.  Hotel choices range from the historic Penn Wells Hotel in the heart of town to more rustic accommodations like the Rough Cut Lodge a few miles east of town on Pine Creek. 

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Ride the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania

North Pennsylvania is a great destination choice for relaxing rides through some the largest deciduous hardwood forests in the country.  The greenery is spectacular in the summer, turning to bright orange hues by fall.  This day ride from Wellsboro covers two of Pennsylvania’s best motorcycle roads.  Start with a section of US-6 also known as the Grand Army of the Republic Highway, and later ride PA-44, sometimes called the Highway to the Stars because of the unlighted remote surroundings.

End-to-end this is a 136 mile ride, with 3 hours 30 minutes of seat time.  That leaves plenty of time to stop and enjoy scenery along the way, most notably the incredible views of Pine Creek Gorge.

Map showing Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania route.
Map data ©2022 Google. A relaxing ride to enjoy Pine Creek Gorge and the green hills of North Pennsylvania.

The first stop of the day is Pine Creek Gorge, referred to as Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon.  Leave Wellsboro heading west toward Coudersport on PA-362 which eventually becomes US-6.  This two-lane country road meanders through the rolling hills and pastures of Tioga County offering easy wide turns that perfectly match an early morning ride.  

For the best views of Pine Creek Gorge head to either Colton Point State Park or Leonard Harrison State Park.  Both are easily accessed on paved roads from PA-362.  The road to Leonard Harrison State Park comes up first and is the more fun of the two park roads.  Leonard Harrison sits on the east rim while Colton Point State Park lies almost directly across the gorge on the west rim. 

Both parks offer great views.  Why choose? Check out both.  There’s plenty of time on this ride.  Another incentive – Pennsylvania does not charge a fee for day use of their state parks; although fees and reservations are required to camp.

After taking in the views, get back up to US-6 and continue west to Galeton in Potter County.  Then turn south on PA-144 to Drury Run and from there work your way east and northward.  The ride runs through North Bend before connecting with PA-44 on the way back to Wellsboro.

There’s a lot to like about this ride.  Views of the gorge are stunning, and the ride covers two of the best motorcycle roads in Pennsylvania.  PA-144 from Galeton to Cross Fork and on to Drury Run is one such highly rated road.  Turning back east toward Wellsboro from there, PA-44 and PA-414 also rank highly among riders familiar with this part of the country. 

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More Routes in North Pennsylvania

The Pine Creek Gorge may be the most stunning natural attraction in the area, but there are other good motorcycle roads to explore in and around Tioga County.  Here are a couple more ideas for day rides in the area. 

Susquehannock Forest Ride

For a full day of riding, try this route through the Susquehannock Forest.  It follows a loose figure-eight pattern from east to west before looping back again.  The ride covers 244 miles and will have you in the saddle for almost 6 hours.

Start in Wellsboro and head west on PA-660.  If you haven’t already, made a stop at either Leonard Harrison State Park or Colton Point State Park to see the Pine Creek Gorge, this may be a good time.  Both are an easy detour off the main route.   Depending on how much time you spend in the parks, this is still a doable day ride.  But that said, it may be better to save the Gorge for another day to leave enough time to really appreciate the roads on this longer ride.

Map showing Susquehannock Forest route.
Map data ©2022 Google. Take a figure-eight shaped ride through Pennsylvania’s Susquehannock State Forest.

Keep riding to Galeton, then head south on PA-144, continue past Drury Run to Moshannon, and then turn north to Pine Glen.  These are some of the better motorcycle roads in the area, passing through the Susquehannock Forest, Sproul Forest, and other wildlife areas. 

Heading back north on PA-872, expect to pass through more miles of quiet forest roads interrupted here and there by a small town or two.  At Coudersport turn east to follow PA-44 to State Run.  From State Run, follow PA-414 to Morris.  Finally, turn north on PA-287 to return to Wellsboro.

Morris to Jersey Shore Loop

This ride incorporates the best roads to the south of Wellsboro and east.  Covered bridge lovers will want to stop at the Hillsgrove Covered Bridge just past Hillgrove on PA-87, and in Forksville where a second bridge awaits.  A third bridge, the Sonestown covered bridge, in Sullivan County is well off the ride route to the southeast on US-220 near Muncy Valley.

This fun and scenic ride includes plenty of twists and turns plus a few relaxing stretches.  The route covers 172 miles with an estimated 4 hour seat time. 

Map showing Morris to Jersey Shore loop.
Map data ©2022 Google. Riding south of Wellsboro covers some great roads and historic covered bridges.

Ride out of Wellsboro southbound to Morris on PA-287.  At Morris, the ride could go clockwise to the east or counterclockwise to the west.  Flip a coin, both are good.  However, if you have already done the rides described in the section above, then mix it up a bit and take this ride in a counterclockwise direction to see PA-414 going the opposite way. 

Assuming you opt to head west (counterclockwise) from Morris, follow PA-414 toward Waterville about where the road becomes PA-44 to Jersey Shore.  At Jersey Shore, take US-220 east and then turn north on PA-87 toward Forksville.  Check out the covered bridges just past Hillsgrove and in Forksville. 

From Forksville turn onto PA-154 and eventually onto PA-14 to Ceder Ledge where the ride once again picks up PA-414 back to Morris.  Morris completes the loop.  From there it’s a straight shot up PA-287 to Wellsboro.

Summer Riding in Pennsylvania

These day rides give a small taste of some of the best roads in north Pennsylvania.  They include an option to ride historic US Route 6 and one to experience the more intense twists and turns of PA-44 between Coudersport and Jersey Shore.  Making Wellsboro home for a couple days makes those and more your choice to enjoy. 

Tree covered valley extending to horizon.
Pine Creek Valley viewed from Colton Point State Park; image used under Creative Commons License.

When it comes to beautiful motorcycle roads, Pennsylvania holds its own.  Whether as a destination or part of a bigger tour, riding northern Pennsylvania deserves a place on your must-ride list.

Resources

Reference Link
Ride the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania route detailshttps://goo.gl/maps/NNFSHDybSyqktEcz7
Susquehannock Forest Ride route detailshttps://goo.gl/maps/aXtvQuzNM8QmtXz77
Morris to Jersey Shore Loop route detailshttps://goo.gl/maps/F8sN73TBWfhqvZ197
Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania informationhttps://pacanyon.com/
Wellsboro tourism informationhttps://www.wellsboropa.com/vacation-wellsboro/planning-your-trip
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Traffic Informationhttps://www.511pa.com/