Bike the Wilds: Find your loop along PA Route 6
Spanning Pennsylvania’s northern tier, PA Route 6 is one of the country’s oldest transcontinental highways. Designated as both BicyclePA Route Y and U.S. Bike Route 36, it’s also a great place to cycle. To welcome riders to this region, PA Route 6 Alliance, a state-designated Heritage Area, has recently unveiled a series of loops that showcase some of the best cycling along Route 6, including loops in four counties that are part of the PA Wilds: Warren, McKean, Potter, and Tioga. Each loop ranges 15-30 miles in length, with varying skill level, and offers mixed surface riding.
“We wanted to invite riders to enjoy the small-town charm of each of the Heritage Communities along Route 6,” says Candace Hillyard, Executive Director of PA Route 6 Alliance. “These loops incorporate historic downtowns, scenic views, rail trails, and amenities.”
Photo provided by PA Route 6 Alliance: Designated as both a state and national bicycle route, PA Route 6 is a favorite destination
Each loop is a product of consultations with bicycle shops, land planners and managers, and avid cyclers across Route 6. Loops have been mapped on Ride with GPS, a mobile route planner frequently used by cyclists seeking new places to ride, and can be accessed via the PA Route 6 website.
Loops have been created for each of the 20 Heritage Communities across Route 6. Within the PA Wilds, loops can be found in Youngsville, Warren, Kane, Smethport, Coudersport, Austin, Galeton, and Mansfield. Each loop can be experienced individually or linked together using Route 6 to create the Trans Pennsylvania Cycle Tour.
The Alliance also unveiled their “6 Signature Loops on 6” to appeal to more seasoned riders. Signature Loops range from 45-95 miles in length with numerous elevation gains and traverse some of the corridor’s most scenic riding. Three of these loops are located within the PA Wilds Region.
Signature Loop #2, “Allegheny National Forest and Surrounds,” is 45 miles and begins and ends at Kinzua Bridge State Park, home of the legendary Skywalk. Experience the Allegheny National Forest from its highest points to its lowest valleys as this loop encompasses parts of the Knox-Kane Rail Trail, Kinzua Valley Trail, and plenty of scenic forest in between.
Map provided by PA Route 6 Alliance: Geared toward more advanced riders, the 6 Signature Loops on 6 offer even more adventure, traversing some of the region’s most challenging, but scenic, riding.
Signature Loop #3, “Ride Through the Dark Skies,” begins near Galeton’s Waterfront Park, the figurative and literal “center” of PA Route 6. Get your legs pumping all the way to Cherry Springs State Park, one of the top dark sky destinations in the world. This 95-mile loop then continues on to Austin, passed the Austin Dam, north to Coudersport, and then back on Route 6 to Galeton.
Signature Loop #4, “Canyon Rambler,” follows the Pine Creek Rail Trail through the PA Grand Canyon, one of the northern tier’s most scenic rides. This one can be a simple down-and-back ride or can include 800 feet of climb up through Blackwell and back to Wellsboro for a 45-mile loop.
Map provided by PA Route 6 Alliance: Heritage Community loops feature some of the best riding in small towns across Route 6. Located in Tioga County, the Mansfield Heritage Loop was submitted by Tom Oswald of Oswald Cycles.
The PA Wilds section of Route 6 offers cyclists of all skill levels a variety of options, and the loops created by PA Route 6 Alliance provide the perfect way to explore this region on bicycle. These loops showcase some of the best riding that Route 6 and the PA Wilds has to offer.
To view and download loops to ride, visit paroute6.com/bicycle.
About the PA Route 6 Alliance:
The PA Route 6 Alliance, a 501(c3) corporation, was established in 2003 to manage the PA Route 6 Heritage Corridor and to implement branding and marketing plans, community development programs and other planning efforts along the corridor. The Alliance includes representatives from all 11 counties, 9 convention and visitor bureaus, 4 heritage areas, local development districts, local business owners, Chambers of Commerce, and other interested parties along the corridor.
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