Enlightenment in Pennsylvania: An Allegheny Nationwide Forest Motorbike Experience


Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride
Getting there may be half the enjoyable, particularly on this Allegheny Nationwide Forest motorbike journey. Motorcyclists can discover loads of enjoyment driving the byways that wind by and round this lush area in Pennsylvania.

My father‑in‑regulation had a factor for the Allegheny Nationwide Forest in northwestern Pennsylvania. George would commonly depart his dwelling in Jeannette, an industrial city east of Pittsburgh, and make the 2‑hour trek to the household’s searching camp nestled on the fringe of the state’s solely nationwide forest. 

Though he was raised a metropolis boy, George longed for the quiet mountains. He beloved to fish, canoe, and hike within the hotter months and hunt and cross‑nation ski within the winter. He loved assembly and speaking with folks 12 months‑spherical.  

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride
Roads gently sweep by the forest, including to the calming impact of the world.

George and I developed a friendship that went past the requisite in‑regulation geniality. We grew to become shut mates and confidants. As I started spending extra time with George at camp, I found he not solely beloved the world however was additionally intimately acquainted with almost each small city, backroad, and beer backyard throughout Clarion, Forest, Elk, and McKean counties. George appeared to know everybody, and everybody knew and beloved George. As he launched me to his previous haunts and new mates, I grew to become intrigued by what made this space so particular to him. 


Though my spouse’s beloved father and my pricey pal is now gone, Amy and I discover ourselves driving the 100 miles north from the town almost each weekend to work on the previous camp property and take within the mystique of the area he held so pricey. To start with, it was a approach to keep linked and help the therapeutic course of. Then we developed our personal rising attachment to the world.

Now not having the good thing about the informative and entertaining automotive rides with George, I started going solo on a bike (my very own joyful place) to discover extra of “George’s Nation.” Carving out an extended weekend, I straddled my GS and headed north to analyze native sights and, as George would, make investments the time to speak with folks and make new mates alongside the best way. 

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride

Scan QR code above or click here to view the route on REVER

(See RESOURCES on the finish of the story for hyperlinks to details about areas coated on this journey.)

George neither owned nor ever rode a bike, though he did have a bike endorsement. In Pennsylvania, there was a time when one may merely test bins on the license renewal utility to pick endorsements. George selected automotive, motorbike, business truck, and faculty bus. Luckily, he caught to vehicles. He mentioned he thought he may make a bike go however wasn’t assured he may get one to cease, which merely wouldn’t have match his journey fashion since he loved stopping usually. 

The farther into the forest I rode, the extra my stress slipped away. The gently sweeping, rising, and falling roads pleasantly transitioned me to a calmer thoughts. A patchwork of idyllic farms and homesteads stretched throughout the valleys as of us supplied pleasant waves. Up right here, life is easier, much less frenetic, and extra right down to earth.  

Alongside the highway, I noticed an indication proclaiming “100 Years of Progress.” The 514,000‑acre Allegheny Nationwide Forest celebrates its centennial in 2023, however not like cities and suburbs, that is gradual development – unhurried evolution that builds energy and deep roots. 

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride
Established Sept. 24, 1923, Allegheny Nationwide Forest celebrates its one hundredth anniversary this 12 months – though the roots run a lot deeper.

Cities and sights within the space have highly effective tales and deep histories which might be straightforward to overlook when one rides by a city or previous an attraction with out stopping. And right here is the place I have to make a confession: I’ve a behavior of permitting the momentum of a journey to induce me to maintain rolling, and I persuade myself I’ll revisit later when I’ve extra time (I not often do). Taking a cue from George, this journey could be about utilizing the time I now have at my disposal.  

See all of Rider‘s Pennsylvania touring stories here.

Residents of Kane

Touring north on State Route 66, I noticed an indication that proclaimed I had arrived on the gateway city of Kane, “A Star within the Forest.” That is additionally the junction with U.S. Route 6, identified regionally as PA Route 6, a favourite highway amongst motorcyclists that stretches east/west throughout the size of the state. 

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride Kane Pennsylvania
The city of Kane is a perfect hub for exploring the Allegheny Nationwide Forest. With plentiful route choices and loads of native sights of its personal, it’s a pure vacation spot for riders.

On the entrance to Kane is a railroad crossing and historic rail station set in opposition to the skyline of nineteenth century buildings. Constructed round 1871, the Kane Depot is now a museum devoted to preserving the city’s heritage, which incorporates the position a Kane citizen (not Citizen Kane) performed in saving the Mexican wolf from extinction. Who knew? A stone outcropping hosts a sculpted wolf and cubs and a plaque that toplines the story so that folks do know, and the museum tells the story with vivid displays. 

I idled into city, and as I had dedicated to doing, I ended, walked across the enterprise district, and even picked up a vacationer map of the world (obtainable at almost each institution within the area and a terrific useful resource for locating “can’t miss” stops and favourite motorbike routes; additionally see the Assets on the finish of this text). 

See all of Rider’s Northeast U.S. touring stories here.

I really like how these previous cities are being revitalized with native companies, eating places, breweries, and outlets – not the countless stretch of chains discovered close to each metropolis, suburb, and interstate exit. Right here was Logyard Brewing, which focuses on sourcing substances native to the rapid Pensylvannia Wilds space. I used to be nonetheless on my journey so didn’t partake, however I did poke my head inside for a glance. Very cool. Equally cool is Desk 105, situated subsequent door. I knew I had the best place for lunch once I noticed the ’72 Indian minibike hanging on the wall (I had one as a child). The environment was a perfect mixture of classic native structure, fashionable brew pub, and northwestern PA kindness. Taking my server’s suggestion, I ordered a barbecue rooster pizza that was nothing wanting wonderful.  

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride
A throwback to a kinder, extra social time. Connecting with the native of us and different vacationers is what these small cities are (re)made for.

With a full stomach and some hours of solar left, I pointed the bike north for a loop as much as Kinzua Level and again. A mild journey alongside State Route 321 traced the western shore of the Allegheny River. At 321’s terminus, a left on State Route 59 took me deeper into the bushes. Campsites, recreation areas, trails, and scenic overlooks abound, though one would by no means know if not for the indicators since every is tucked away within the bushes. Resisting my pure inclination to press on, I turned on the Rimrock Overlook signal. A slender and winding nicely‑paved path by the bushes is adopted by a brief, straightforward stroll to a spot the place the restricted view dramatically opens to an impressive vista of forested mountains and the huge river under. I gave George a digital excessive‑5.

Again on Route 59 heading west, the forest opens to spectacular views of pristine water. That is the Allegheny River the place its expanse kinds the roughly 10,000‑acre Allegheny Reservoir because of the Kinzua Dam – one of many largest dams east of the Mississippi. 

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride Allegheny Reservoir
Created by the Kinzua Dam, the immense Allegheny Reservoir is inviting for boaters, diners, and sightseers.

Because the solar started its downward journey, I started my very own, turning south on the Longhouse Nationwide Scenic Byway, the place I used to be met with extra of the twisting, rising, and falling terrain that makes me glad to be on a bike. The trail teased me with periodic peeks on the water to my left as I traced the other facet of the river. 

I made an compulsory cease for ice cream at Bob’s Buying and selling Publish. I ordered a small cone, however the child behind the counter stored piling on scoops till I lastly requested him to cease, reminding him that I ordered a small. He knowledgeable me {that a} “small” at Bob’s has three large scoops of ice cream and mentioned what I wished was a “child” cone. Sheepishly, I mentioned to make it a child cone then. With large child cone in hand, I proceeded previous the road of standard patrons who have been clearly having fun with our trade. 

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride Kane Pennsylvania
The creator enjoys a “child” cone at Bob’s Buying and selling Publish in Kane.

With the loop full, I wheeled into the Kane Vacationer House & Motor Inn. It’s a throwback to previous‑time journey when vacationers would keep in transformed previous mansions (a “vacationer dwelling”) or later, in considered one of a row of personal rooms with parking spots at every entrance door. It could be the motor inn for me. Inbuilt 1952, it doesn’t appear to have modified a lot. The rooms have wooden‑paneled partitions and classic framed footage. Pink tile adorns the toilet. Because it was again then, there’s no tv, however the brand new house owners do present wi‑fi in case a traveler can’t go an evening with out streaming one thing. I selected to sit down on a chair outdoors my room, sip good bourbon, and watch neighborhood youngsters play outdoors (a uncommon sight the place I reside). 

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride Kane Tourist Home & Motor Inn
The Kane Vacationer House & Motor Inn offers motorbike vacationers a style of old-time lodging, together with affordability and parking simply outdoors your room.

The motor inn was simply off the principle drag, so I walked to a quaint little vineyard referred to as Twisted Vine the place a pleasant and vibrant younger woman was behind the bar and a youngish couple have been seated to my left. Surprisingly, of us weren’t absorbed by their cellular units; they have been engaged in dialog. I used to be welcomed into a pleasing chat with all of them, throughout which I discovered extra concerning the space, about how the city of Kane has been making a comeback, about native musicians, and extra. As a result of I ended, I made new mates. This is likely one of the issues I take pleasure in a lot about touring by motorbike. It offers me the chance to flee and, on the identical time, reconnect with life in a extra significant approach. Nothing pretend. No agendas. Simply engagement with good folks in an environment that’s relaxed sufficient to ask dialog. Increasingly more, I got here to grasp George’s fascination with this space.

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride Rimrock Overlook
Hidden down slender lanes are gems like this spectacular view from the Rimrock Overlook.

One Turns into Two

My pal and fellow motorbike security knowledgeable Hal Deily joined me the following day for the remainder of my Allegheny Nationwide Forest motorbike journey. It was enjoyable to see how Hal, a man who has lived inside the metropolis limits of Pittsburgh his whole life, was having fun with the huge historical forests, the nicely‑preserved countryside, and the hospitality of small‑city communities. Being naturally social, Hal instantly struck up conversations with wait workers, store house owners, and patrons. He and I obtained into our typical again‑and‑forth banter that entertained the locals (we predict), and as I did a number of instances on this journey, I believed again to how George and his brother‑in‑regulation Billy would usually be the focus wherever they went as they shared tales and informed previous jokes to new audiences. They have been by no means obnoxious, simply good spirited and lighthearted individuals who have been enjoyable to be round.  

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride
The creator plugs into the native heritage.

After breakfast on PA Route 6 on the Barrel Home, we continued towards the Kinzua Sky Stroll, rated “One of many High 10 Most Lovely Skywalks and Viewpoints within the World,” at Kinzua Bridge State Park. As soon as the best and longest railroad viaduct on this planet, a direct twister strike in 2003 worn out greater than half of its span. The mangled wreckage of metal towers rests in perpetuity on the valley ground greater than 200 ft under what’s now a first-rate viewing space on the far finish of the surviving construction. This can be a should‑see vacation spot for any journey within the space, evidenced by the quantity of bikes within the car parking zone.

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride Kinzua Sky Walk
A must-see, the Kinzua Sky Stroll takes guests to the sting of what was as soon as the world’s highest railroad viaduct (earlier than it took a direct twister hit).

Along with delightfully laid‑again two‑lane driving, PA Route 6 presents many rewarding sights and vital historic areas of curiosity. Magnificent Victorian mansions line the best way by downtown Smethport, proof of a sport of architectural one‑upmanship performed by the world’s lumber barons in the course of the nineteenth‑century timber increase. There, Hal and I stumbled upon Previous City Smethport, the house of “America’s First Christmas Retailer.” It’s additionally an eclectic assortment of historic shows that features previous‑normal toys, an unique stagecoach, a classic supply truck, a country log cabin, and even a Civil Conflict cannon and artillery. I can’t assist however assume George would have beloved this place. And I’m glad Hal and I took the time to cease, regardless that it meant shedding all our driving gear as soon as once more. 

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride Smethport Pennsylvania
Tree-lined streets and well-preserved Victorian-era mansions of the logging-baron days information the best way by Smethport.

Simply west of Port Allegany is a watch‑catching construction alongside the highway referred to as Lynn Corridor. Constructed within the Modernist fashion (assume Frank Lloyd Wright), this gorgeous Thirties residence is an surprising gem within the woods. However don’t blink otherwise you’ll miss it!  

Port Allegany is surrounded by pure assets very best for making glass. That’s what introduced Pierce Glass to the city in 1917, adopted later by Pittsburgh Corning, makers of architectural glass block distributed worldwide. That proud heritage is widely known within the Serenity Glass Park, an artwork show within the coronary heart of city. Murals and sculptures manufactured from coloured glass fill the backyard. I want we may have considered it after darkish when the backyard is galvanized by lights. It should be spectacular.  

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride Port Allegany’s Serenity Glass Park
Hal checks out the spectacular glass sculptures in Port Allegany’s Serenity Glass Park.

Following a tip, Hal and I turned north onto State Route 155 after which 446 towards the city of Eldred to go to the Eldred World Conflict II Museum. This small neighborhood nestled in quiet hills was the location of a munitions plant in the course of the battle, producing tens of millions of bombs, shells, and fuses in assist of America’s battle effort. The museum options a captivating assortment of interval artifacts, pictures, automobiles, uniforms, weapons, and fashions. There’s a gorgeous quantity of historical past housed right here (simply be prepared for a curator who’s anxious to supply plentiful historic – and editorial – commentary). 

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride World War II Museum Eldridge Pennsylvania
The in depth World Conflict II Museum in Eldridge attracts guests from close to and much.

No Allegheny Nationwide Forest motorbike journey is full with out a cease in Bradford and the Zippo/Case Museum. This world‑class museum wraps the customer in residing historical past as they stroll by the again tales of Zippo windproof lighters and Case knives. Pictures, movies, classic promoting, promotional automobiles, and prototype merchandise carry the tales to life, cleverly showcasing how the merchandise have grow to be a part of the material of American (and world) tradition. I used to be fascinated by a show of destroyed lighters that had been returned for restore or alternative. (Zippo’s assure has at all times been, “It really works, or we repair it without spending a dime.”) 

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride Zippo Case Museum and Flagship Store
The Zippo windproof lighter and Case cutlery museum is world-class. There’s lots to maintain guests entertained for hours. Seeing this Zippo promotional automotive was definitely worth the journey!

Hal and I then took a journey by downtown previous the Marilyn Horne Museum, however we have been too late to catch this tribute to Bradford’s large opera star, who was as soon as described as “most likely the best singer on this planet” by Opera Information. As an alternative, we wound our approach to Bradford Brew Station for a late, nonalcoholic lunch. The brewery has a terrific fame, however we nonetheless needed to journey to our lodge throughout city. In distinction to the prior evening in Kane, we grabbed rooms in a contemporary Vacation Inn Specific that was each inexpensive and completely comfy. A brisk stroll by city to the Papa Scoop’s ice cream stand close to Zippo company headquarters was the proper nightcap. 

Within the morning, Hal and I opted to journey from Bradford down by Emporium and into the Elk State Forest the place we picked up the fabulous State Route 555 alongside Sinnemahoning Creek to Benezette. Just a little facet loop on Winslow Hill Highway rewarded us with enjoyable two‑lane driving and spectacular elk viewing areas. 

A fast dash as much as St. Marys (dwelling of Straub Brewery) was adopted by a jaunt to the quaint city of Ridgeway for lunch the place Hal and I channeled George and Billy as soon as extra, telling well mannered jokes and laughing with the server and different company. You simply can’t assist however be jovial right here. And perhaps, ultimately, I assume that’s what makes the forest so particular: It brings out the most effective in folks. By George…I feel I’ve obtained it!

See all of Rider‘s touring stories here.

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride
Inexperienced as far and deep as the attention can see. Roads wind by 514,000 acres of Pennsylvania’s solely nationwide forest.

Allegheny Nationwide Forest Motorbike Experience Assets:


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