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


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 (16)

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?

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