Looking for something to do on a Saturday? Try Biking Central PA’s Rail Trails.
Within an hour drive of State College there are three Rails-to-Trails bike paths that provide an opportunity for riders of all ages and experience to enjoy the great outdoors and visit some towns you probably haven’t heard about.
The Rails-to-Trails are unused rail corridors that have been transformed into vibrant public places used by bikers, hikers, walkers and in some places horses. There are 184 total trails (1,812 miles) just in Pennsylvania. These trails follow the old railroad lines (tracks have been removed) and do not allow motor vehicles. Because they were former railways the grade is slight which makes it easy to ride.
Locally there is the Lower Trail in Alexandria, Pine Creek Trail in Jersey Shore and the Ghost trail in Ebensburg. The Lower Trail Lower Trail The trail is 17 miles long and runs from Alexandria PA to Canoe Creek State Park. The Pine Creek Trail Pine Creek Rail Trail is 62 miles long from Jersey Shore to Wellsboro and includes the PA Grand Canyon. The Ghost Town Trail Ghost Town Trail is 36 miles long from Ebensburg to Back Lick.
All the trails have several locations where you can park and ride. This makes it possible to ride the entire trail. For the more experienced riders the 34 mile round trip of the Lower Trail can be covered in an afternoon. For the less experienced riders or ones with smaller children, you can ride the entire trail in smaller sections. A ten mile trip (5 miles out and back) can be accomplished in a couple of hours.
All the trails pass through small towns that offer places to stop for lunch, snack (ice cream) or just hang out. If you bring it with you there are parks and places to eat or buy lunch at a local restaurant. The other option is to ride out and back and eat lunch upon your return. The trails also have plaques with information about these small towns and the railroads that passed through them. You’ll pass over bridges and through tunnels just like the trains years ago. A fun and informative day for you and your family.
My friends started a bike club that rides 4 – 5 Rails-to-Trails a year in the Northeast. We have a planned trip to ride all 62 miles of the Pine Creek Trail this month. Most of the members hadn’t been on a bike in 30 years and started out riding a few miles at a time. The best part of the Rails-to-Trails system is that there are no cars or hills which makes for easy and fun riding with family and friends.