Pine Creek Trail, Pennsylvania
I caught wind of the Pine Creek Trail on my recumbent news group. It's a rail-trail in Tioga County in north central Pennsylvania, and rated by some as one of the ten best in the country. It goes through the Pine Creek Gorge, what is known as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. The trail is 61 miles of crushed gravel with a 2 percent grade. My plan was to start at Jersey Shore, the southern terminus, and ride the full 61 miles (plus 2 miles off the trail) to Wellsboro, the northern terminus, where I would overnight in a motel.
After breakfast I packed a sandwich and a big Gatorade for the ride (there are few places to fuel along the way). I got to my starting place, Jersey Shore, at 8 a.m. Although it was predicted to be very hot, it was a nice cool morning and I was psyched. I decided to take my time; I had a room reservation in Wellsboro and there was no need to arrive there early.
With camera in hand, I was ready. The trail is flat and hard-packed, and it was easy going on my trike. I stopped a lot, taking in all the beauty. Pine Creek, with its mountain views, was just spectacular. Being a Wednesday, the trail was quiet and serene.
The area is known for rattlesnakes, and I was hoping to see one. I met up with an older gentlemen named Fred on his three-wheeled bike. He was following eagles and their nestings. He said he would be surprised if I didn't see a rattler, especially after Blackwells.
At around mile marker 20, 41 miles into the ride, there it was -- in the middle of the trail -- a three- to four-foot-long rattler. Of course I took pictures from a distance, making sure to get the rattle at the end of its tail in the photo.
After another 3 miles, I finished the day's ride in Wellsboro, a quaint gaslight town with lots of places to eat and drink.
After a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast I packed up, and was back on the trail by 7 a.m. The morning was cool with a light fog. A good start to what would end up being another hot day.
I did notice I was one to two miles per hour faster heading south, so I guess that is where the 2 percent grade comes in. Most of the people I met on the trail were riding casual mountain bikes. Many folks would park in some designated area and ride a few miles up and then back. It's such an easy trail to ride that you could do it with almost any single-speed bike. It's extremely well maintained with no ruts.
Besides the endless beauty, the highlight of my ride back was seeing a gray fox dart out twenty feet in front of me. A rare sighting, I was told.
I ended the ride with a grand total of 132 miles at an average pace of 9.3 mph. This is a must-see-and-do trail to be added to your bucket list!
Tips for this adventure: Wellsville can fill up, so book your hotel in advance. That way you can relax and enjoy the sights as you ride, and not be in a hurry. Bring food and water, as there are few places to purchase provisions. Bring your camera. Wellsboro is about 2 miles from the trail on a busy road, so ride carefully.
Favorite local bike shop: Bicycle Rack, Hightstown, New Jersey.