Pittsburgh to Philly

I rode my bike from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia in May, 2005 in 4 days covering 407 miles with 2 friends, Justin (taller) and Gary (shorter). Here are some pictures from the trip. We mostly followed the BikePA route S, which means we mostly rode on side roads. The biggest exception was day 1, where we took a gravel “rail-trail” from the intersection of the Monogahela and Youghiogheny rivers through Ohio Pile to Somerset… over 100 miles of gravel on road bikes with 23cc tires. No flats!

It jacked me up mightily. I had some tendonitis in my achilles tendons, and my knees hurt a lot. I’m pretty much all better now though. I need to learn to build up to big long efforts instead of just jumping in cold-turkey.

Here are the directions we prepared before embarking on our trip. We stuck religiously to the route, but our lodging situation changed. More on that below the directions.

Monday May 16th: Day 1
Pittsburgh to Somerset 0-120 Miles

  • CMU to Waterfront
  • Waterfront to McKeesport
  • 837 west
  • 148 west and then south east
  • right over 15th street bridge (cross Youghiogheny)
  • Youghiogheny River Trail (RR) to Confluence (Giant Eagle along trail in W. Newton)
  • Casselman River Trail past Casselmam to Rockwood
  • Water level Road to S. Edgewood Ave, R on 31 (If you go left Giant Eagle 1.1 mile away), L on 601 Somerset, PA
  • 601 N (center ave), go 2 miles passed turnpike, R onto Gilmore Road (campground at lake somerset)

Tuesday May 17th Day 2
Somerset to Carlton Heights 120-220 Miles

  • 31 ( east main street) to Berlin plank Road to Menser rd back to 31 (glades pike road)
  • 31 for ~ 25 miles to 96 (maybe just joins 31) and then back on 31 to 30 through Bedford (Giant Eagle: Bedford (814) 623-2775 510 E Pitt St Bedford, PA 15522 – 160 miles)
  • Pitt street to 326 (E. Gold Road) – E Golf Road to Main (326 turns south but keep east)
  • Lutzville North to Aschcom Road
  • L on Blackvalley, L on W 5th ave, R on W. Main (30), R on 26 (state road), L on E. 4th ave (26)
  • L on Winding ridge road, L on ritchey road, R on pointer Road to E. Mattie Road
  • Main to 30, (food in breezewood!) 915 N, R. on Mountain House Road
  • R. on N. Hess Road, L to stay on N. Hess
  • Straight onto 655 (Waterfall Road), to 475
  • L on Forbes Trail Road, L on 522, R onto Great Cove Road (stay on 522)
  • @Burnt Cabbins (200 miles) go straight (off of 522) onto Great Mill Road
  • R onto Aughuillick, R onto Carrick Valley, L onto State Spur 45 (Richmond Rd)
  • R onto 75, Path Valley Road
  • L onto Main Street, Main to 30, L on twin bridge road to campsite (1.25 Mi off of 30) (for food store, instead of L go 2.7 miles further on 30, turn right on 995 for .1 miles. To get back to campsite from food: back West on 30, R onto Shatzer Orchard, L onto Crottlestown, to twin bridge road)

Wednesday May 18th: Day 3
Carlton Heights to Columbia 220-300 Miles

  • 30 towards Chambersberg, R on S. Coldrock Ave (far side of Chambers) (for food lion go straight here instead, Food Lion Stores Inc: Store 883, (717) 263-6040, 1320 Lincoln Way E, then cut back a little and go L on Falling Spring)
  • L on 316, L on Garber Rd, L on Cider press, R on Falling Spring
  • L on Mt. Alto Road. Straight onto Bekle Road, L on Anthon Hwy 997
  • R onto 30, through Caledonia St. Prk,
  • L onto 234 Buchanan Valley Road, R to stay on Buchanan Valley Road and 234
  • 234 for ~37 miles to york
  • 462 through York, (cross susquehannah) go through Columbia and R onto Prospect to campground (< 1 mile) (for supermarket don’t go L on prospect instead go straight, L on college Ave, R on Hempland, L on Centerville 4.3 Mi from campsite. To continue East from supermarket take Centerville to 462)

Thursday May 19th Day 4
Columbia to Philly to Justin’s 300-390 Miles

  • 462 East through Lancaster to 340 (dozens of food places in town)
  • L on Horseshoe Road, R onto W. Eby Road  E Eby Road, R. to stay on E. Eby
  • R on S. Groffdale, L onto Musser School Road, R onto Zeltenreich, L onto Hollander, L to stay on Hollander, Straight (off of Hollander) changes to Diller
  • R onto 23, L onto N. Railroad Ave, R. onto East Spruce, L to stay onto E. Spruce
  • R. onto W. Weaverland, R onto Weaverland Valley Road
  • L onto Weaverland, L to stay onto Weaverland, R onto Churchtown, L onto 23 Main Street
  • R onto 100 in Bucktown, L onto Pughtown (L and R zigzag to stay on pughtown)
  • Pughtown changes into cold stream rd, (for wawa L on 113/kimberton and then R on pothouse, R on charlestown) L onto Charlestown (at VFCA)
  • R onto Buckwalter, L onto State, R onto Creek, Straight onto Valley Park Road, L to stay on Valley Park Road
  • L onto Country Club Road, Straight onto Ferry Lane, R onto Pawlings
  • Enter Valley Forge Park, find Schuykill River Trail along RR
  • Head to Philly 25 miles
  • Kelly Drive to Main St. through Manyjunk, L on Belmont Ave
  • R. on Rock Hill Road, R on 23, R to stay on 23, R on Hagys Ford
  • Eat large Dinner at Vinny T’s

Friday May 20th – drive back to Pittsburgh 300 miles

Planned Lodging
Night 1 – Mon 5/16 (120 miles)
Woodland Campsites, Somerset
Grace A. Shoffstall
291 Gilmour Rd
Somerset, PA
Telephone: 814-445-8860
$20 – reservations not needed

Night 2 – Tues 5/17 (220 miles)
Twin Bridge Meadow Family Campground
Wilbur & Florence Mackey
1345 Twin Bridge Road
(5 mi West of Chambersburg)
Chambersburg, PA 17201
Telephone: 717-369-2216
$17/$19 w/ electric (reservation made)

Night 3 Weds 5/18 (300 miles)
Prospect Valley Farm
Columbia, PA
1334 Prospect RD.
Telephone: Disconnected???

Possible Backups
80 miles
#2423 – Scarlett Knob Campground
2.5 miles N of Ohiopyle

160 miles
#2156 – Bedford
Friendship Village Camp and RV Park

270 miles
#2087 – Big Mount (West of York)

340 miles
#2490 – Warwick Woods Campground, St. Peters
Warwick (15 miles west of Valley Forge)

A few bike Shops right along the way…
Korber’s Bicycle Shop – 106 W Main St West Newton 724-872-2185
Bentz Bicyle – 239 E Church St, Somerset, 814-443-3069
Family Cycling Center – 359 E Washington St, Chambersburg, 717-263-9684
Bike Line – 117 Rohrerstown Rd, Lancaster. 717-394-8998

Elevations (feet)
(these are for towns, not necessarily roads/trails by the town which might be a lot higher)
Pittsburgh 770
Ohiopyle 1220
Rockwood 1813
Somerset 2190
Shawnee Lake 1170
Bedford 1106
Earlston 1060
Breezewood 1356
Cowans Gap Lake 1217
Chambersburg 621
Biglerville 636
East Berlin 420
York 400
Columbia 300
Lancaster 368
New Holland 494
Morgantown 600
Valley Forge 237
Philadelphia 40

In the end, our lodging situation became more complicated. We did camp at the first planned campground in Somerset. The second day, however, we ended up sleeping in a kind soul’s yard behind a pizza place where we ate dinner. The pictures of our tent near a building are from this stop. The trampoline was right next to our tents. The third night, the campground we had planned to stay at was found not to be there anymore. We ended up staying in a very cheap motel simply because it was dark and that was the closest place.

Interestingly, the bike shops along the way were all closed on consecutive days, such that we encountered a shop closed on Tuesday, on Wednesday, and on Thursday, on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, respectively. What are the odds?

We had a few flat tires, and Gary’s rack had some issues. We took a tent that we didn’t need.

My favorite parts of the trip were the rail-trail the first day, the mountains near breezewood, and Amish country. My least favorite parts were the roads without a shoulder but with a lot of traffic.


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