Eastern USA, Routes, Trip Reports » USA-PA-North/South Route


 PA N-S Mixed Surface Route


The idea for this route was hatched in this thread. Three of us (Jeff, Ron and Ruth) scouted the complete route in 2012.   The goal was to begin piecing together what could be a long distance backcountry route in the east.

The Route


The following image shows the route and tread type.

The elevation profile of the route: 


Along the Route

The route includes a mix of paved road, dirt road, double track, rail trail, single track, and for good measure, a short bushwhack.  The route connects blocks of PA State Forest land located in central PA.  Along the way the route encounters small towns, farming communities, forested ridges, hunting camps and state parks.

Regarding singletrack, the route goes through both Rothrock and Michaux State Forests which are arguably the top two single track destinations for PA mountain bikers.   In addition, there are additional single track sections in Bald Eagle SF and Tiadaghton SF.  Several of the sections are used as race routes throughout the year (Michaux Series, Wilderness 101, Stupid 50, Iron Cross, etc..)

For the most part, water (that should be treated) can be easily found along the route in numerous streams and springs.  Food sources (grocery stores, convenience stores and restaurants) are less frequent.  Full service grocery stores are located along the route in Jersey Shore and
Shippensburg.  No permits are required for single night, primitive camping in PA state forests.

Bicycle shops are “few and far between”.   Although there are no bike shops directly on the route,  there are shops in close proximity (within 10 miles or so) that can be good resources for emergency spare parts or route information.  In the southern section, Gettysburg Bicycle is nearby to the Michaux State Forest.   FreezeThaw Cycles, The Bicycle Shop and Eddies Cycles are located in State College and are all good contacts for the Rothrock and Bald Eagle sections of trail.  In the northern end, Oswald Cycle Works in Mansfield  is a good stretch from
the route but familiar with the area.


The PA N-S is connector between the proposed Triple Divide Trail, and an unscouted connector through MD that connects to the VA Mountain Bike Route.   As of this writing (March 2013), there does not seem to be an official public domain map of the VA Mountain Bike Route. The Google Map linked to this document contains a ‘best guess’ of the VA route.

Google Map Link

Google Map Link  (also shows connections, waypoints and photos)

Maps and GPS Data

Are found at this link. The map downloads include options for complete sets of printable, topographic maps in PDF format.

Photos along Route

Note:  photos where taken during multiple trips, which spanned multiple seasons!

Grassy, Gated, Forest Road

Vista of Farm Country

Southern Michaux State Forest

Through the bracken

Scouts Head Out
Dirt Road

Old Church
Three Way

Five Way

Fern City

Mountain Laurel


Pine Creek

Shippensburg University

Pine Creek Gorge

Hunting Camp
In Bloom

Big Money!

Double Track Fall

Abandoned Forest Road

Cedar Run Store on Pine Creek Trail

Ridge Running

Ridge and Valley

Forest Road


Comments (32)

cmherronMarch 20th, 2013 at 10:43 am

This is great!!! I grew up in Williamsport (east of Jersey Shore) and I have been wondering about a route like this for a while. I live in Colorado now but love to get back on the country roads, forest roads, and rail-trails that I grew up with when I go back home. The Pine Creek rail-trail is a GREAT stretch to include in this ride, as is Rothrock. I’ll have to bring my touring rig home with me sometime (which I bought from Freeze Thaw!) to check out the route. Well done and thanks for sharing!

ruthMarch 20th, 2013 at 12:15 pm

awesome summary and data JHL!!!

Ketchup ManMarch 22nd, 2013 at 5:13 am

I like. Will add this to the bucket list. Great job Mr. Shlr (et al). Inspiration is what I call stuff like this.

Soon we will have our own TD here on the east coast. 🙂

ChuntMarch 22nd, 2013 at 7:04 am

Great last photo in your lineup there. Nice way to end it.

ThomMarch 22nd, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Very very cool .

WahdayMarch 28th, 2013 at 9:58 am

Fantastic! As a Pennsylvania native, this makes me long for home (though New Mexico doesn’t suck. I just miss all that green). I did a multi-day paddle down Pine Creek Gorge (the Grand Canyon of PA!) once as a kid. One of the best family vacations ever. Gorgeous setting, good fishing and super chill atmosphere. Thanks for posting and a great, useful write-up on the details. Ride on!

ChrisMay 3rd, 2013 at 9:13 am

Thank you Jeff, Ron and Ruth for your work in creating an incredible route. The detail of the map is mind-boggling, and really takes it to a new level. As a western PA native, this route is definitely going on my 5 year bucket list!

Lynne DanielsMay 3rd, 2013 at 9:11 pm

Thank you for compiling and sharing all this great data. Looks worth a drive up from South Florida.

jhl99May 12th, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Thanks for the positive comments. I wonder how many PA expats are out there? We had to add a detour to the route… the only tunnel on the route is closed until the state can make some repairs (it was an old railroad tunnel that was blasted through rock and the rock is falling from the ceiling)…two detour alternatives have been added to the documentation.

Scott LovelessJune 14th, 2013 at 6:48 am

After hearing about the GDMBR for the first time several years ago, I thought that smaller, regional routes and races would be a good idea. I certainly don’t have the time or money for 2700 miles all at once. But a cross-state route I could do. I got as far as collecting maps from DCNR and drawing some lines.

Next week I’ll be spending a few days bikepacking around Michaux, and I’m definitely going to incorporate your route into my trip.

Thanks a bunch for putting this together!

freeskier46August 28th, 2013 at 8:26 am

Great report, another PA expat here. Grew up in Allentown, but moved west to AZ over 20 years ago. Now that I’ve been consumed by the bikepacking bug, I want to head east for some exploration.

maxAugust 28th, 2013 at 11:41 am

thinking about giving this a go next spring.

i live in philly. any thoughts as to transportation up to the beginning (northern end)? look really sparse up there but i was wondering if any buses or trains would get us anywhere near there? maybe car rental dropoffs near there? hoping to avoid having to have someone drive us 9+ hours up only to turn around and drive all the way home.

pickup from the southern end should be MUCH easier.

jasonDecember 29th, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Do you have a detailed map of this with ques? Me an at least one other are thinking of tackling this route this summer. Thanks for putting it together, it really looks like a great adventure.

JasonJanuary 14th, 2014 at 11:15 pm

One more question. What is your thoughts on doing this trip in a cross bike like a CAADX?

SkotJune 4th, 2014 at 9:21 am

Amazing. Has anyone else taken this route?

PHellerMarch 2nd, 2015 at 1:53 pm

Any updates to this?

SkitSeptember 20th, 2015 at 6:17 am

Can this be done on a Salsa Vaya?

Allen KerkeslagerOctober 10th, 2015 at 10:23 am

A re-alignment of the Triple Divide Trail route through Potter and Tioga Counties was negotiated last summer (6-2015) that provides an improved (and fully useable) connection between the Pine Creek Trail in Ansonia, PA, and the WAG Trail along the Genesee River at the NY/PA state line in Genesee, PA. The new route for this link takes advantage of state park and state forest roads near Colton Point State Park and Lyman Run State Park and also takes one directly into the mountain biking network in the Denton Hill State Park area (maps of the local network at the DCNR Forestry station there). Regrettably, this new connecting link alignment has not yet been incorporated into the electronic map on the “Triple Divide Greenway” page of the Genesee River Wilds Project website because it is going to be part of the overhaul of the entire website that is due in the next few months (www.geneseeriverwilds.org). But a PDF of the updated route through Potter and Tioga Counties (along with explanations for the changes) is on that page next to the provisional electronic map from 6-2011. The same webpage also includes a summary of the entire trail route (dated March 2015) with a new map of the Genesee-Susquehanna Greenway plan concept (ca. 400 miles from Lake Ontario in Rochester, NY, to Chesapeake Bay in Havre de Grace, MD, via the Genesee River, triple continental divide, Pine Creek, and Susquehanna River). You may also want to look at the Facebook page of the Genesee River Wilds to see photos of the fantastic work being done just over the state line in NY along the WAG Trail (along the Genesee River from Wellsville, NY, to the NY/PA state line at Genesee, PA). Further north, the Genesee Valley Greenway continues to be improved and a new nature center is being built in Letchworth State Park, so the cycling infrastructure in the corridor continues to be improved. Much appreciation to those who keep posting photos of their trips up in these areas.

AungNovember 12th, 2015 at 4:07 am

Hi there, I was just up at Little Mountain yesterday and I am lovnig all the improvements! Just one little request: could you post this new map? I would have loved to see it at the Darvil trail head! I had a few reluctant hikers with me, and we didn’t take the best trail. Maybe you could use the ski system (green & blue dots, black diamonds, etc) to rate the trails?

Q RothDecember 1st, 2015 at 9:50 am

Noticing now that the link on the “Maps and GPS” section takes you to a defunct link. Anybody else have this information? I have one of the Google Map links bookmarked but that GPS data would be good to look at.

jhl99April 2nd, 2016 at 8:39 am

New location for documentation.

Google Map (Corrected 4/15/16):
Was this link, which is Eastern Divide through PA:

As of 4/2/2016, this Google Drive Folder:



A copy of the orginal Bikepacking.net posting
GPX Files (REV 01 and REV02)
Detours for the Poe Paddy Tunnel, (not sure if it is reopened or not as of 4/2/2016)
Two sets of Topo Route maps:
*_M.pdf = Medium Resolution (don’t bother, use the higher resolution)
*_H.pdf = High Resolution (use these)

Jason NovackApril 2nd, 2016 at 1:02 pm

I like the reroute too, easier to actually accomplish, a lot less dirt it looks like. An even trade off I suppose. I can’t wait to do it.

Allen KerkeslagerApril 9th, 2016 at 6:24 am

Recent progress on the NY side of the emerging ECD/Triple Divide Greenway for those planning a trip further north: All the bridges on the WAG Trail on the NY side from Genesee, PA, to Wellsville, NY, are now rehabilitated and the surface is much improved (no high grass as in photos from a few years ago; still need to go on road to get around the bridge in Genesee, PA). New gates and new signs will be on WAG Trail this year and crushed stone surface maybe next year (photos on Facebook page of Genesee River Wilds). Genesee Valley Greenway between Belfast, NY, and Letchworth State Park is also much better since a few years ago. Park Road on west side of Genesee River in Letchworth State Park is main route through the park, but single-track alternative on east side of the Genesee River through Letchworth is available via the Finger Lakes Trail (only section of FLT open to cyclists). There are also some good single-track trails at the northern end in the Rochester area, including along east side of Genesee River in the last leg through the city to Lake Ontario (see the Genesee Regional Off-Road Cyclists website). Probably most know that Erie Canalway can take one from Rochester area to Adirondacks.

Q RothApril 14th, 2016 at 7:51 am

Am I missing something? That google map posted on 4/2/16 seems to be a completely different route than the original and what is included in the google drive. Much further west.

jhl99April 15th, 2016 at 5:30 am

I posted the wrong Google Map link. Here is the correct link:

(I also finally noticed that the original article can be edited, so those links are now also fixed)

EmmaMay 31st, 2016 at 8:50 am

This route is amazing and really tough! Q and I did the whole route (with a few modifications) in 8 days last week. I wrote up a two-part trip report here:


thanks for scouting this! It’s awesome!

Q RothJune 8th, 2016 at 8:09 am

Yes! This was a great time. As Emma mentioned, we took 8 days to do this – spaced out mostly so we could camp in state parks. We skipped out on some sections, mostly singletrack, some simply because we missed the trailheads but some others because due to some repeated flats on Day 4 made us fall behind our schedule.

Some notes:
1) Since it rained the first 2 days we skipped out on making the climb out of Slate Run and instead just took the Pine Creek Rail Trail all the way into Jersey Shore and got a hotel. Definitely was a good idea for our general mental state.

2) Trail off of Krape Rd to Walters – couldn’t find. Is that trailhead kinda hidden? Just climbed up and over Krape and eventually connected with Walter anyway, so it worked out fine.

3) After Raymond Winter State Park, would definitely recommend skipping out on Fallen Timber Trail and I guess you could just stay on Pine Creek Road? “Riding” that trail was the worst part of the trip. Don’t know why anyone would direct anyone onto that trail.

4) Poe Paddy Tunnel is now open. It’s a tiny tunnel. Not super exciting but nice enough. Glad to not have to take a detour.

5) The trail that connects Laurel Run Rd to Cowpens Rd, we found the trailhead and went in a little bit, but the trail seemed to just disappear past a little cabin. We tried using the GPS to get back on track but just seemed to be going in circles in the woods, so backtracked and just took Three Square Hollow Road around the mountain. Added some additional miles but seemed better than being lost in the woods. Any thoughts on what we might have done wrong there?

Can’t recommend having the Purple Lizard maps of Rothrock and Bald Eagle enough for this trip. They definitely came in handy.

Would definitely do again.

jhl99June 12th, 2016 at 12:15 pm

Great story! From the misery of wet, dreary days to the goodness of ‘trail angle’ to flat tires to great food it looks like an awesome experience.

To my knowledge, you guys are the first to continuously through ride the route. Congratulations. Rain early in the journey, has a way of dampening spirits, I’m glad you stuck with it. All trips have their highs and lows. It is good you adjusted your route as needed. There is nothing sacred with route we laid out.

Emma’s meals are an inspiration!

Thanks for sharing the detailed blog posting, I enjoyed reading it and it is getting me motivated for some more trips.

Regarding the route notes:
1. Actually, for south bound, skipping the climb out of Slate Run (Naval Hollow?) was a good call…it wouldn’t have been fun to go up
2. I’m not sure about this without doing some research
3. Once again, not sure, sounds like there might have been some timbering activity
4. Glad the tunnel is open
5. As I recall, the trail almost goes through the cabin! When I last road that trail, the south end was closing in with Mnt. Laurel… maybe there isn’t any maintenance on that trail.


-danJanuary 1st, 2017 at 7:33 pm

I’m planning to ride it in late april 2017. Any updates / ideas about the trail that connects Laurel Run Rd to Cowpens Rd?


jhl99January 2nd, 2017 at 4:42 am

Regarding Laurel Run to Cowpens Rd, it could be it is grown in and hard to find. The detour is pretty simple, On map 34 of file PAR04.pdf, simply take Three Square Hollow Road to the west and it wraps around connecting the segment of single track that is questionable. Maps here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0Bx33lLkX0pjbdFNpc0hyejYtdlE

-danJanuary 3rd, 2017 at 5:29 pm

thank you!

Allen KerkeslagerMarch 31st, 2017 at 10:27 am

Some updates on Triple Divide Trail System (Rochester, NY, to Williamsport, PA): Construction of long-awaited Pine Creek Trail extension into Wellsboro, PA, should begin this summer 2017. Re-alignment of section of Triple Divide Trail System between Pine Creek Trail in Ansonia, PA, and WAG Trail at NY/PA state line in Genesee, PA, in 2015 has encouraged new efforts at development of off-road sections, but its provisional route can be enjoyed now because it uses state forest and state park roads. The new 2015 route west from Ansonia, PA, goes close to Pine Creek Outfitters to Colton Point State Park; via state forests to Galeton and then southwest to Lyman Run State Park; into Denton Hill State Park area, where PA DCNR plans to expand mountain-biking amenities as part of transforming Denton Hill SP from ski park (temporarily closed) to four-season park (existing trails in the area are on PA DCNR “Billy Lewis Area Trails” map at http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/cs/groups/public/documents/document/dcnr_20028036.pdf). From Lyman Run SP, new Triple Divide Trail System route goes via Lyman Run Road to cross US/PA Rt. 6 just west of DCNR Denton Hill forestry office (thus within range of bike shop and amenities in Coudersport, PA). From Rt. 6 it goes north via Rooks Rd. (dirt) directly past triple continental divide point to Genesee, PA. See preliminary planning maps on pp. 3-8 for “Triple Divide Trail 2015, Section Ansonia, PA, to Genesee, PA” at http://www.geneseeriverwilds.org/Triple%20Divide%20Trail%20Potter-Tioga%20Counties%206-22-15.pdf.

The WAG Trail (rail-trail) along Genesee River from NY/PA state line north to Wellsville, NY, now is much improved. Off-road connection from Genesee, PA, to WAG Trail in NY is still being negotiated, but easiest current access is northeast on PA 244 across state line to NY 248A and west on Hawks Rd. (dirt) just north of state line. Roads along Genesee River are still needed as provisional link between northern end of WAG Trail in Island Park in Wellsville, NY, and Genesee Valley Greenway (rail-trail) at Hughes St. in Belfast, NY. From Belfast one can proceed northward on the GVG to Letchworth State Park and onward to Rochester. But alternative links from Wellsville to Belfast or even Wellsville to Letchworth using mountain-biking trails in the oft-overlooked acreage of state forests in Allegany County, NY, are often discussed. For example, from Wellsville, NY, an adventurous pioneer could go north via Madison St., Madison Hill Rd., Shear Rd., Vandermark Rd., and Waugh Brook Rd. to the trailhead in Vandermark State Forest northeast of Scio, NY. From there one can go northward via mountain biking trails through various state forests and roads to cross I-86 at exit 32 (West Almond, NY) after passing within reasonable distance of the Bicycle Man shop in Alfred, NY. After crossing to the north side of I-86 and using trails in Klipnocky State Forest and other state forests nearby, one can go west via Allen Lake State Forest, to the Genesee Valley Greenway in Belfast, and northward on the GVG to Letchworth. An alternative from I-86 Exit 32 is to go north via various state forests to Keeney Swamp SF and then turn northwest via English Hill SF to Letchworth. Another option from Klipnocky SF goes north via Swain Ski Resort and state forests nearby before turning northwest to Letchworth. Letchworth amenities concentrate along Park Road on the west side of Genesee River, but the Letchworth branch of the Finger Lakes Trail offers a single-track alternative on the east side. If anyone wants to pioneer one of the alternative state forest routes between Wellsville and Letchworth SP, zoom in to make the mountain bike trails visible on the NYSDEC “State Lands Interactive Mapper” ( http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/45415.html ; unfortunately does not include state parks managed by NYS OPRHP).

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