Tag Archives: Northeast U.S.

Enchanted Kingdom: Northeast Vermont Motorcycle Ride

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
Vermont’s unmaintained Class IV roads offer access to truly off-the-beaten-path scenery and long-forgotten historic sites as well as enchanting along this Vermont motorcycle ride. Photos by Susan Dragoo.

It’s all scenic. It’s all charming. And it’s all green … except when it’s not, and then it’s even better.

A few days into a trip to the lush forests of northeastern Vermont, we were reminded of Sedona, Arizona. The connection between these two dramatically different climes may at first seem nebulous, but Vermont’s consistent beauty called to mind the time we visited an outdoors outfitter in Sedona and asked, “Which are the most scenic trails?” The jaded clerk responded with a sigh, “All of them. They’re all scenic.” His tone let us know there was nothing to be gained by pressing him for further details. We would have to make our own choices from the seemingly infinite good ones available.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
Burke Mountain’s ski lift sits idle in the summer, when the resort is popular with mountain bikers riding the nearby Kingdom Trails Network.

Likewise, trying to narrow down the best scenery in Vermont is a fool’s errand. It would be difficult to make a bad choice. Our adventure riding journey to the state’s Northeast Kingdom took us into what may be some of Vermont’s most remote territory, lending itself beautifully to the pursuit of riding motorcycles down dark, green, tree‑­canopied lanes and over roads the likes of which Paul Revere might have traveled in colonial days.

See all of Rider‘s Northeast U.S. motorcycle rides here.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
Willoughby Gap is Burke Mountain’s most iconic view.

These are Vermont’s northeastern highlands, dubbed the Northeast Kingdom in the 1940s by a former Vermont governor in recognition of the area’s distinct culture and geography. The region lies within the southernmost range of the cold boreal forest of spruce and fir, birch and aspen, which stretches to the Arctic. It’s a place of long winters and short growing seasons where ponds, lakes, and villages nestle in valleys and twisting roads follow clear streams between small granite hills and mountains. Adventure in Vermont, like the New England states themselves, comes in tight and tidy packages, so the remoteness here can be surprising to the traveler accustomed to the vast, open American West.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
Remnants of a 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps camp at the summit of Burke Mountain.

It was mid‑­September, on the cusp of the imminent explosion of fall colors for which this place is famous. Still, there was plenty of sensory stimulation. Besides the inexplicable feeling of navigating these woods in a late summer shower, leaves were beginning to carpet the trail like gold doubloons cast forth from some cosmic seeder. Pungent scents of cut evergreens, vegetation at the end of its cycle, and earth, freshly disturbed by our tires and dampened by the rain, filled our heads with aromas fit for expensive candles sold in artisan shops. Days that started with fog and mist and ended with afternoon showers added mystique and urgency to move along yet held us in the moment, hoping it would never stop.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
Riding in the Northeast Kingdom is an experience of lush, green forests and nearly infinite backroads.

Eric Milano, owner of MotoVermont (see sidebar below), led our group of a dozen riders from all walks of life. Most were successful in business and seeking another way to enjoy the outdoors. Sailors, skydivers, scuba divers, and racecar drivers, they were here to learn the nuances of adventure riding versus railing through the woods with their hair on fire, replaying the antics of their younger selves.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
An adventure bike is the perfect vehicle for enjoying it, and MotoVermont organizes great tours to get the most out the area.

Our business, D.A.R.T. (Dragoo Adventure Rider Training), is often invited on such tours to coach guests not only on the finer points of riding well over difficult terrain but also the philosophy of leaving behind a legacy of responsibility as we explore on adventure motorcycles, a term that can apply to most any off‑­road‑­capable two‑­wheeled machine with enough legs to make it between fuel stops.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
Descending a rocky ledge lends the perfect opportunity for a little fun.

A high priority for adventure riders is respecting landowners and other trail users, helping to ensure trails stay open. There is more than enough joy in smelling the roses (and other flora) while tackling technical trails with natural obstacles. Adventure riders see no need to run loud pipes, ride at breakneck speeds, or travel off trail, risking damage to adjacent lands and hard‑­earned relationships.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
Respectful behavior on roads and trails helps to ensure continued access.

Our first day together was dedicated to enhancing rider skills, and the second was spent applying them over some of Vermont’s most remote backroads. Many are Class IV roads, barely maintained byways kept open mostly by locals who traverse their craggy, narrow tunnels on snow machines during winter and by motorcycle the rest of the year.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
The mountains of the Northeast Kingdom offer some of the area’s most iconic scenery.

Our troupe traveled west out of Burke Mountain Resort, stopping off at Cafe Lotti in East Burke before turning north and entering the woods and our first Class IV challenge. Cafe Lotti is a homegrown hangout set in a typical aging Vermont building which has no doubt fueled generations of local folk and travelers alike with a belly full of breakfast and a hot cup of craft coffee or tea. It is the perfect meeting spot for adventure seekers of all types, from mountain bikers to adventure riders to cross‑­country and downhill skiers.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
Whether crossing a burbling stream or stopping for Pure Vermont Maple Syrup, there’s plenty to see along the trail.

We left town westbound and turned north into the woods, winding our way past drop lines – pieces of tubing strung between taps in a forest of maple trees like webs from a giant prehistoric and overactive arachnid. Eric stopped at the entrance to a steep, rocky uphill and explained the best options for a successful path of travel. Rain had turned the rocks into slippery entrapments like greased turtle shells, ranging from tiny spotted tortoises to 6‑­foot sea turtles.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom

Most riders made the climb without incident, but one or two forgot their training and sat down or, worse, dragged their feet, losing control and learning the hard way why adventure riders stand up. Steering, suspension, and sight are all improved by standing tall and proud, and this mild lesson was a graphic illustration of just how important it is to do so in the rough.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
Vermont’s deepest lake, glacial Lake Willoughby, boasts distinctive fjord-like rock formations and is a popular summer attraction.

The onset of rough terrain was the portal to this enchanted Northeast Kingdom, a region mentioned in Patricia Schultz’s book 1000 Places to See Before You Die, which boasts that when the foliage flames in autumn, this may well be the most beautiful place in America. Indeed, it should not be missed. A few years back, we made the trip by motorcycle during the peak of fall color, and years ago, Bill traversed Vermont by bicycle on his way across the northern tier of the United States, a solo journey that permanently pinned this place to his psyche and keeps us coming back.

Our rugged upward trail eventually turned down, and the trail from the top was no disappointment. Sketchy ruts through mudholes, strategically dispersed to reward good judgment in not rushing, kept us on our toes. Most of these roads shed water well and remained rideable, but caution was of the essence. The road continued to undulate throughout the 100‑­plus‑­mile clockwise loop that would eventually take us back to our starting point.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
Roadside stands along the way offer a variety of goodies, including fresh eggs.

But first, a stop at Devaney Farmstand near the intersection of Hudson Road and Town Highway 29 outside West Charleston, Vermont. The clouds opened and rain came down in full force as we dismounted and climbed a stairway, ducking into a loft room where lunch had been laid out for us by Bob and Sharyl Devaney. Calzones, fresh corn on the cob, and apple pie awaited. We gobbled down the fare as rain drummed on the roof. Maple syrup, candles, fresh jams, and pies of all kinds added their fragrance to the shop, and antiques and other local trinkets were neatly displayed for anyone wanting a souvenir.

Our timing was perfect. The sun began to peek through the clouds as we said our thank‑­yous and goodbyes to the Devaneys and fired up our machines. A short ride on twisty pavement led us back to the reason we were here: more Class IV roads. After skirting the fjord‑­like Lake Willoughby, a glacial lake dotted with vacation cabins and summer camps, Eric turned right onto a barely noticeable two‑­track trail that climbed steadily toward the mountain top.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
It wouldn’t be a trip to Vermont without a covered bridge. The state has 104 historic covered bridges, and many of them are still in use today.

Eventually we descended again and crossed an old bridge leading onto a magnificent, fast gravel road following a river through the canyon. Although tempted to open up the throttle, good judgment kept our horses in check, and we ran at a brisk but reasonable pace. Riding right is critical here, as some turns are blind and, as remote as these roads are, we still saw other users. Respectfully, we would hold up five fingers to oncoming traffic if there were five or more riders behind us, then four, three, two, one, and the sweep rider held up a closed fist to indicate he was the last one. Trail etiquette is critical to maintain good relationships with the locals who hold the power to shut us out. We happily demonstrated good stewardship and appreciation for the privilege of exploring their home turf.

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom
Riders take a break at Devaney Farms after a filling and delicious lunch.

We hit pavement just as the rain began again and made our way the last few miles to the resort. Parking under the canopy, we shed our outer gear and immediately began to relive all that had happened in a short couple of days. New friendships had been made and lessons learned. Everyone left with a quiver full of new skills and a renewed appreciation for our freedom to ride, perhaps not by lantern light warning the colonists of the British invasion, but with our own versions of enthusiasm as we explored the Enchanted Kingdom.

See all of Rider‘s touring stories here.

SIDEBAR: MotoVermont

MotoVermont specializes in adventure motorcycle tours, training, rentals, and retail sales. Tours range from day rides in Vermont to week-long adventures farther afield, including New Mexico, Arizona, North Carolina, and other locations. Training events are typically 1-2 days in length with a focus on balance, mastery of bike controls, preparedness, and courtesy. Rental options include the Yamaha Ténéré 700, Kawasaki KLX 300, and Yamaha XT250.

MotoVermont founder and operator Eric Milano is a Backcountry Discovery Routes ambassador and a member of the development team for the NEBDR route. He spends much of his time developing tours and organizing events for adventure motorcyclists. MotoVermont has a retail store in Milton, Vermont, or you can meet them at one of the many rallies and events they attend throughout the Northeast. For more information, visit the MotoVermont website.

SIDEBAR: Burke Mountain Resort

Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom

Burke Mountain Resort offers a comfortable stay with great views of Burke Mountain or Willoughby Gap from every suite. Located three miles from the Kingdom Trails Welcome Center, the resort has 116 suites ranging from studios to three-bedroom suites.

Guests can enjoy pub food, craft beers, and cocktails at The View Pub on the second floor, with large windows looking out to Willoughby Gap. Edmund’s Coffee Shop, located in a cozy timber-framed room with stone fireplaces, serves breakfast and coffee. The resort also includes on-site retail shopping opportunities at Bear Essentials and Vertical Drop Retail, with products ranging from basic groceries to home décor and outdoor gear. Other amenities include a heated pool and hot tub, a family arcade, and a fitness center. For more information, visit the Burke Mountain Resort website.


Vermont Motorcycle Ride Enchanted Kingdom Bill Dragoo Susan Dragoo

Bill and Susan Dragoo own and operate Dragoo Adventure Rider Training (D.A.R.T.) in Norman, Oklahoma, and are widely published writers, especially in the field of adventure travel. Learn more at BillDragoo.com and SusanDragoo.com.

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Exploring Backroads on a New York and Pennsylvania Motorcycle Ride

Upper Delaware River Watershed New York and Pennsylvania Motorcycle Ride Favorite Ride
The snaking Hawk’s Nest section of New York Route 97 clings to rocky cliffs hundreds of feet above the Delaware River. It was a highlight of this New York and Pennsylvania motorcycle ride.

The Upper Delaware River Watershed encompasses thousands of square miles in New York and Pennsylvania, with hundreds of miles of serpentine roads rolling through forests, farmland, small towns, and historic sites. It makes for a superb ride, so I fired up my Kawasaki Vulcan and hit the road to explore it. 

Upper Delaware River Watershed New York and Pennsylvania Motorcycle Ride Favorite Ride

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

From West Milford, New Jersey, I rolled north on smooth East Shore Road through state forest land and then along the sparkling shoreline of Greenwood Lake. With the morning sun twinkling through the trees and the cool, fresh air energizing me, I rode through the Black Dirt Region of southern Orange County, New York, a beautiful area of farmland renowned for its rich, black soil.

Cruising through Port Jervis, I wound through the Hawk’s Nest section of State Route 97, which is designated as the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway for 70 miles. This sinuous roadway is cut into the mountainside, offering excellent views of the Delaware River far below.

See all of Rider‘s Northeast U.S. motorcycle rides here.

Leaving the river behind near Pond Eddy, I climbed deeper into the watershed. I’m not religious in the traditional sense, but I love viewing unique churches. Two impressive ones grace the treelined State Route 41: Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church with its white facade and metal domes and the rustic log St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Upper Delaware River Watershed New York and Pennsylvania Motorcycle Ride Favorite Ride
Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Glen Spey, New York, stands as a citadel of hope.

From Glen Spey, I weaved through the wooded route to Eldred, where I blasted up scenic State Route 55 to Lake Superior State Park, a good place for a relaxing swim or walkabout. From there, I made a pilgrimage to Bethel, site of the famous 1969 Woodstock music festival where 400,000 people gathered for three days of peace and music. 

Upper Delaware River Watershed New York and Pennsylvania Motorcycle Ride Favorite Ride

No longer the rural field of Max Yasgur’s farm, it is now part of the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. This concert venue’s museum honors the 1969 festival, and the original concert field has been preserved. A monument near the stage site memorializes the groups who performed there.

From Bethel, I blasted northwest on country backroads to the impressive Stone Arch Bridge Historical Park and then onto Roscoe for lunch at the Roscoe Diner. Next, I crossed the Beaverkill River, a tributary of the Delaware River. Both the Beaverkill and the Downsville covered bridges are off State Route 206, and riding a motorcycle through these wooden structures is a joy not to be missed.

Upper Delaware River Watershed New York and Pennsylvania Motorcycle Ride Favorite Ride
The Stone Arch Bridge, built in 1880, adorns its namesake park in Kenoza Lake, New York. It is as famous for its beautiful architecture as it is for a murder committed on the bridge in 1892.

Downsville is also home to the 15-mile-long, 5,700-acre Pepacton Reservoir on the East Branch of the Delaware River. State Route 30’s twisties follow the reservoir’s shoreline and then the snaking river. With my Vulcan purring and the afternoon sun reflecting off the water, I cruised SR-30 to State Route 17. In Hancock, I dropped my kickstand at the tidy Hancock House Hotel, which has a pub and a restaurant on-site, making it an ideal overnight stop for riders.

The next day, I fired up my Vulcan and savored the crisp air and deep blue sky as I rumbled over the river into Pennsylvania. State Routes 191, 247, and 370 roll through farmland and forest. On SR-370, I spotted a bear crossing the road – not an unusual occurrence in rural Pennsylvania. 

Upper Delaware River Watershed New York and Pennsylvania Motorcycle Ride Favorite Ride
This rural Pennsylvania road passes through the green pastures of a family farm.

Riding south on State Route 296 to Waymart is one of my favorite roads: smooth with a mix of farmland and forest on both sides. At Waymart, I crossed over U.S. Route 6 – known locally as PA Route 6 – which spans the northern part of the state and offers hundreds of miles of excellent riding opportunities.

At Hawley, I picked up a winding section of PA Route 6 and then followed State Route 590 to Lackawaxen, where SR-590 begins to parallel the Lackawaxen River, another tributary of the Delaware. It was a beautiful day, and I stopped to watch some kayakers on the river. 

Upper Delaware River Watershed New York and Pennsylvania Motorcycle Ride Favorite Ride
The author’s bike soaks up some rays as he explores a farm stand on Pennsylvania Route 296 near Waymart.

Crossing the Lackawaxen River, I stopped to rest at the Delaware Aqueduct, known as the Roebling Bridge, which was built in the mid-1800s and is the oldest existing wire suspension bridge in the U.S. Crossing the river here allows you to continue north or south on the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway. 

New York and Pennsylvania Motorcycle Ride Resources

See all of Rider‘s touring stories here.

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A Michigan Upper Peninsula Motorcycle Ride in Autumn

Michigan Upper Peninsula Motorcycle Ride Cochran West Bluff
On the northern tip of Keweenaw Peninsula, West Bluff provides a sweeping view of Lake Superior and Copper Harbor, Michigan – a great spot to stop along this Michigan Upper Peninsula motorcycle ride. Photos by the author and Craig Moll.

As a resident of Minnesota with incurable wanderlust, I’ve visited Michigan’s Upper Peninsula a few times, including doing the 1,300‑mile Lake Superior Circle Tour twice. But one area of the Upper Peninsula – known locally as the “U.P.” – I had yet to explore is the Keweenaw Peninsula, a 150‑mile‑long wedge of land that looks like a long dorsal fin jutting into Lake Superior. Before Old Man Winter brought an end to the riding season, my friend Craig and I squeezed in a mid‑October ride, making a big loop around the U.P. where we enjoyed the area’s rich history, unparalleled scenery, and excellent motorcycling roads.

Michigan Upper Peninsula Motorcycle Ride Cochran REVER map

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

We met up just east of Minneapolis in Hudson, Wisconsin, on a cool, clear autumn day. Craig was on his KTM 890 Adventure, and I was on my Harley‑Davidson Pan American, which I call “Dirt Glide.” With no rain in the forecast, we were excited to hit the road.

Michigan Upper Peninsula Motorcycle Ride Cochran Lake Superior
Lake Superior, which is the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area and the third largest by volume, forms the northern shoreline of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

We crossed into Michigan on U.S. Route 2 and continued northeast on M‑28 to Lake Gogebic, the state’s largest inland lake. The long, finger‑shaped lake is a popular spot for outdoor activities year‑round. It has 13,380 acres of good fishing water, and there are plenty of opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, hunting, camping, and winter sports. Surrounded by vast hardwood forests, it’s a great place to see fall colors. It also gets an annual snowfall of nearly 300 inches and has an excellent snowmobile trail system.

Michigan Upper Peninsula Motorcycle Ride Chuck Cochran and Craig Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Chuck and Craig at Sand Point on the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

For motorcyclists, a loop around Lake Gogebic is an enjoyable scenic ride. M‑64 hugs the western shore, and East Shore Road hugs the other side, and there are parks, lodges, and dining options dotted along the nearly 40‑mile route. At the lake’s northern end at the junction of M‑28 and M‑64 is Bergland, which has places to eat, drink, and stay, as well as a museum highlighting the local history of mining, logging, and sports.

Michigan Upper Peninsula Motorcycle Ride Cochran U.S. Route 41
U.S. Route 41 runs the length of the Keneewaw Peninsula, from Baraga to Copper Harbor. In the fall, the changing leaves create a tunnel of color. Photo credit Danita Delimont / Adobe Stock.

After enjoying the scenery of the lake, we continued up M‑64 to the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Michigan’s largest state park and home of the Lake of the Clouds. Covering 60,000 acres with 35,000 acres of old‑growth forest, the park has waterfalls, rivers and streams, hiking trails, a campground, and miles of scenic Lake Superior shoreline.

Our ride up to the Lake of the Clouds scenic overlook was rewarded with a kaleidoscope of fall colors and scenery that lives up to the lake’s name. After a few photos, we were back on the bikes and followed M‑64 along the southern shore of Lake Superior to Ontonagon, where we turned inland on M‑38 to M‑26, which runs up the center of the Keweenaw Peninsula, also known as the Copper Country region.

Michigan Upper Peninsula Motorcycle Ride Cochran Lake of the Clouds
Located in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park along the shore of Lake Superior, Lake of the Clouds is idyllic.

At Houghton, we crossed the Portage Lake Lift Bridge and continued north on U.S. Route 41. With the sun fading, we rode to our overnight destination at the AmericInn in Calumet. The hotel is within walking distance of restaurants, stores, and the Keweenaw National Historic Park, which showcases the area’s 7,000‑year history of copper mining.

See all of Rider‘s Midwest U.S. motorcycle rides here.

We wandered through Calumet, a small town that was in the heart of Michigan’s copper mining industry. Its historic downtown has gift shops, galleries, coffee houses, saloons, and restaurants. We made our way to the Michigan House Cafe & Red Jacket Brewing Co., which is in the former Hotel Michigan that was opened by Bosch Brewing in 1905. Today, it’s a restaurant and brewpub, and the Oatmeal Express stout was the perfect choice for a fall evening.

Michigan Upper Peninsula Motorcycle Ride Cochran Eagle River
In the mid-1800s, Eagle River was a thriving mining town on the north shore of the Keneewaw Peninsula. We enjoyed a scenic shoreline ride on M-26 from there to Copper Harbor.

The next morning, we availed ourselves of the AmericInn’s complimentary breakfast and trudged out to our frost‑covered bikes. We continued riding on U.S. 41 in a northeasterly direction to Phoenix, where we turned due north on M‑26, which curves its way along the Lake Superior shore, offering amazing views and passing through nature and wildlife sanctuaries.

Before the town of Copper Harbor, we turned on to Brockway Mountain Drive, which gradually climbs up and over an eroded volcanic prominence that rises 720 feet above Lake Superior’s waterline. At West Bluff, we stopped to admire an unbelievable vista of the big lake to the north and the fall‑colored forest to the south. 

Michigan Upper Peninsula Motorcycle Ride Cochran Cinder Pond Marina
Cinder Pond Marina is part of the charming waterfront in Marquette.

We cruised back downhill to Copper Harbor, Michigan’s northernmost town, which overlooks its namesake port near the outer tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Surrounded by Lake Superior, its microclimate is cool in the summer and relatively mild in the winter. Copper Harbor has a fascinating history, and the town is a great base camp for exploring the peninsula or a launching point for trips to Grand Isle National Park.

After gassing up, we headed south on U.S. 41 and then Gay Lac La Belle Road to the Bete Grise Wetlands Preserve and the southern shore of the Keweenaw Peninsula. We stopped for lunch in Houghton, which is located on the Keweenaw Waterway that cuts across the peninsula and was once at the epicenter of the region’s copper industry.

Michigan Upper Peninsula Motorcycle Ride Cochran Lower Harbor Ore Dock
The massive concrete-and-steel Lower Harbor Ore Dock is one of the most iconic landmarks in Marquette. Photo credit ehrlif / Adobe Stock.

We rode south on U.S. 41, which runs along the western shore of Portage Lake and then Keweenaw Bay to L’Anse, where we returned to the mainland of the U.P. We followed U.S. 41 east to Marquette, a Lake Superior port city known for shipping iron ore from the Marquette Iron Range. With a population of 20,000 and home to Northern Michigan University, Marquette is the largest city on the U.P. We pulled into the Hampton Inn Marquette/Waterfront, which lives up to its name with an amazing view of sailboats and other vessels carving up the bay. Being a lively college town, Marquette has numerous bars and restaurants to choose from. We had dinner at the historic Vierling Restaurant & Marquette Harbor Brewery, named after Martin Vierling, who built the building in 1883 and ran a “gentlemen’s saloon” at the location until Prohibition. Renovated and reopened in the 1980s, the establishment has a historic wooden bar with large windows overlooking the harbor. 

Firing up the bikes the next morning, we rode east on M‑28 to Munising and then on H‑58 for a few miles to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. We rode up to Sand Point, which has nice views across the water to Grand Island, a national recreation area.

Michigan Upper Peninsula Motorcycle Ride Cochran Whitefish Point
More ships have been lost in the vicinity of Whitefish Point, also known as the “Graveyard of the Great Lakes,” than anywhere else on Lake Superior.

The road to Munising and Sand Point was good, but the winding curves of H‑58 rivaled some of the best roads we’ve ever ridden, with extensive twists and turns carved through the forest and along the Lake Superior shore. We continued east to M‑123 to visit Tahquamenon Falls State Park, which covers 50,000 acres. The Upper Falls is one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River and is about 200 feet across and drops 50 feet. The Lower Falls are a series of smaller falls cascading in many directions.

East of the park, we made our way up to Whitefish Point, which is known as the “Graveyard of the Great Lakes” and home of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. There have been 550 known shipwrecks in the area, and at least 200 of them are off Whitefish Point, including the famous SS Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank in 1975 and was memorialized in a popular song by Gordon Lightfoot.

Michigan Upper Peninsula Motorcycle Ride Cochran Fayette State Park
On the southern, Lake Michigan side of the Upper Peninsula, Fayette State Park is a restored 19th century iron-smelting village with 22 historic buildings, a museum, and a visitor center.

We made our way to the southern side of the U.P. on the northern shore of Lake Michigan, where we spent the night in Manistique, a recreational mecca for boating, fishing, camping, and snowmobiling. In the morning, we rode south on the Garden Peninsula to Fayette State Park, which overlooks Big Bay De Noc and was home to one of the U.P.’s most productive iron‑smelting operations during the 19th century. When the iron market declined, the Jackson Iron Company shuttered its operation in 1891.

Our return route west on U.S. 2 took us to Iron Mountain, home of the Pine Mountain Ski Jump and the annual Continental Cup, one of the world’s best ski jumping events.

Michigan Upper Peninsula Motorcycle Ride Cochran Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Tahquamenon Falls State Park has 35-plus miles of trails and multiple viewpoints for the Upper and Lower falls.

Next we wanted to check out an interesting phenomenon called the Paulding Light, a mysterious light that appears at the end of a deadend road in a valley located between the towns of Pauling and Watersmeet off U.S. Route 45. The light has been reported since the 1960s, and various legends claim the light is the result of paranormal activity, the ghost of either a railroad brakeman who died in a train collision, a murdered mail courier, or a Native American dancing on powerlines.

Craig and I arrived at the location at dusk and waited for the light. At first we saw nothing, and then…wait…what’s that? Sure enough, a faint light appeared off in the distance above the tree line. Off and on it went, so we decided to pursue this mystery for ourselves. We rode down a steep, sandy, rock‑strewn powerline road to a narrow, rickety bridge that crossed a creek. As I hit the partially rotted bridge, I thought, Pan Am, don’t fail me now! Charging up the hill on the other side, we attempted to find the source of the light but to no avail. In 2010, students at Michigan Tech said they solved the mystery, claiming the Paulding Light is caused by headlights on a faraway highway. I like the ghost stories better.

Michigan Upper Peninsula Motorcycle Ride Cochran
One of our favorite parts of touring around Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was the many roadside waterfalls, creeks, and overlooks where we could stop and take a few quiet moments to appreciate nature’s beauty.

The next day, we returned home. It’s always bittersweet when a fun motorcycle trip comes to an end, but the great thing about exploring a new area is knowing we can always come back for more. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula offers seemingly endless opportunities for riding and recreation, with a rich vein of history that runs through the area like its deep deposits of copper and iron.

See all of Rider‘s motorcycle rides here.

Michigan Upper Peninsula Motorcycle Ride Resources

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A New Jersey Backroads Motorcycle Ride in Fall | Favorite Ride

New Jersey backroads motorcycle ride Pequannock Watershed
Rumbling through a kaleidoscope of woodland colors, a rider and his passenger on a New Jersey backroads motorcycle ride enjoy the curves of Clinton Road as it ambles through the Pequannock Watershed.

When the leaves tremble with their last days of color and the north winds begin to blow, I want to seize the day and take a ride before the snowflakes fly. I like to experience a variety of roads and sights all within the limited daylight of late fall. Northern New Jersey has great roads that ramble through state forests, around reservoirs and farms, and into small towns, making for a superb day ride.

I had plotted a route for this trip, but soon after my ride began, I saw a road sign that warned: APPLE SEASON HEAVY TRAFFIC. The last thing I wanted was to be stuck in the middle of a traffic jam surrounded by carloads of apple‑­picking tourists slowly swarming toward orchards, so I threw out my itinerary and decided to go wherever the road and my gut told me.

New Jersey backroads motorcycle ride

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

Rolling up Abram S. Hewitt State Forest’s Bearfort Ridge on the serpentine Warwick Turnpike, I avoided the congestion by taking the forest‑­enveloped Clinton Road, which snakes through a large section of the 35,000‑­acre Pequannock Watershed. There are four reservoirs open for public recreation, and the area is crisscrossed by mountain trails and home to all manner of wildlife. 

New Jersey backroads motorcycle ride Pequannock Watershed
A fisherman enjoys some peaceful solitude on one of the Pequannock Watershed reservoirs.

Clinton Road and its surrounding wilderness have a somewhat creepy reputation for ghost sightings, witch gatherings, weird animal hybrids, and at least one infamous serial killer. I was attracted to this particular stretch on my New Jersey backroads motorcycle ride because it was recently repaved and weaves alongside the sun-kissed reservoirs and through colorful forests, but the area’s notoriety added to its allure.

New Jersey backroads motorcycle ride Kawasaki Vulcan
Among the fall colors, the author’s Vulcan stands ready to continue the cruise.

Several boat launches and parking areas provided opportunities to stretch my legs and drink in the scenery. Some riders are tempted to white‑­knuckle it through the many twisties of Clinton Road, but I don’t recommend it. During the late fall rutting season, deer are hyperactive and as plentiful as flies on a cow patty. Besides, a slow cruise gives you time to appreciate the beauty.

See all of Rider‘s Northeast U.S. tour stories here.

However, as I turned off Clinton Road and rode west on the mostly rural State Route 23, I ramped up the pace. The crisp, pure air caressing my face was invigorating. At Hamburg, I picked up State Route 94. Rumbling south, I spotted the Northern New Jersey Veterans Memorial Cemetery and stopped to pay my respects. Walking through the cemetery, you cannot help but be overwhelmed with emotion and appreciation for those who served our country and now rest in this hallowed ground. 

New Jersey backroads motorcycle ride Northern New Jersey Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Headstones at Northern New Jersey Veterans Memorial Cemetery honor fallen soldiers.

Continuing south, SR‑­94 passes through Newton, a bustling small town, and then into lush farmland, with New Jersey’s western mountains rising on the horizon like a fortress wall.

New Jersey backroads motorcycle ride County Road 521
County Road 521 rolls through picturesque New Jersey farmland.

In Blairstown, I stopped for lunch at the Blairstown Diner, which has been family owned and operated for over 70 years and has tasty food and authentic retro decor. The diner was featured in the original Friday the 13th film, and in the hills of nearby Hardwick, Boy Scout Camp No‑­Be‑­Bo‑­Sco stood in for the film’s major setting, Camp Crystal Lake.

From Blairstown, I wound my way north on the rolling County Road 521, stopping briefly at the scenic White Lake Natural Resource Area and the historic Vass Farmstead. Built in 1812 and listed in the National Registry of Historic Places, it is worth a stop.

New Jersey backroads motorcycle ride Vass Farmstead White Lake Natural Resource Area
The restored 19th century Vass Farmstead, now co‑­owned by the Ridge and Valley Conservancy and the state of New Jersey, overlooks the White Lake Natural Resource Area.

At Stillwater, I turned left onto County Road 617 and then followed a series of other rural roads. My Vulcan handled these wavy and weaving routes through farmland and forests with cool confidence. By the time I reached SR‑­23 again, the sun was hanging low in the western sky. Heading south, I cracked the whip on my Vulcan and enjoyed its pulsating power as we rode down the highway.

New Jersey backroads motorcycle ride
Leaves on the ground means riding season in New Jersey is drawing to a close.

As I exited onto the tree‑­lined County Road 513, my journey neared its end. Although my route was impromptu, the ride was perfect. Cruising on great roads through the beautiful countryside during the fall reminded me what riding is meant to be: unfettered by plans and going with the flow. There definitely will be more freewheeling rides in my future. As Peter Fonda’s sage old biker character Damien Blade said in Wild Hogs, “Lose the watches.”

See all of Rider‘s touring stories here.

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Enlightenment in Pennsylvania: An Allegheny National Forest Motorcycle Ride

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride
Getting there is half the fun, especially on this Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride. Motorcyclists can find plenty of enjoyment riding the byways that wind through and around this lush region in Pennsylvania.

My father‑in‑law had a thing for the Allegheny National Forest in northwestern Pennsylvania. George would regularly leave his home in Jeannette, an industrial town east of Pittsburgh, and make the two‑hour trek to the family’s hunting camp nestled at the edge of the state’s only national forest. 

Although he was raised a city boy, George longed for the quiet mountains. He loved to fish, canoe, and hike in the warmer months and hunt and cross‑country ski in the winter. He enjoyed meeting and talking with people year‑round.  

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride
Roads gently sweep through the forest, adding to the calming effect of the area.

George and I developed a friendship that went beyond the requisite in‑law geniality. We became close friends and confidants. As I began spending more time with George at camp, I discovered he not only loved the area but was also intimately familiar with nearly every small town, backroad, and beer garden across Clarion, Forest, Elk, and McKean counties. George seemed to know everyone, and everyone knew and loved George. As he introduced me to his old haunts and new friends, I became intrigued by what made this area so special to him. 

Although my wife’s beloved father and my dear friend is now gone, Amy and I find ourselves driving the 100 miles north from the city nearly every weekend to work on the old camp property and take in the mystique of the region he held so dear. In the beginning, it was a way to stay connected and aid the healing process. Then we developed our own growing attachment to the area.

No longer having the benefit of the informative and entertaining car rides with George, I began going solo on a motorcycle (my own happy place) to explore more of “George’s Country.” Carving out a long weekend, I straddled my GS and headed north to investigate local attractions and, as George would, invest the time to talk with people and make new friends along the way. 

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride

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

(See RESOURCES at the end of the story for links to information about areas covered in this ride.)

George neither owned nor ever rode a motorcycle, although he did have a motorcycle endorsement. In Pennsylvania, there was a time when one could simply check boxes on the license renewal application to select endorsements. George chose car, motorcycle, commercial truck, and school bus. Fortunately, he stuck to cars. He said he thought he could make a motorcycle go but wasn’t confident he could get one to stop, which simply wouldn’t have fit his travel style since he enjoyed stopping often. 

The farther into the forest I rode, the more my stress slipped away. The gently sweeping, rising, and falling roads pleasantly transitioned me to a calmer mind. A patchwork of idyllic farms and homesteads stretched across the valleys as folks offered friendly waves. Up here, life is simpler, less frenetic, and more down to earth.  

Along the road, I saw a sign proclaiming “100 Years of Growth.” The 514,000‑acre Allegheny National Forest celebrates its centennial in 2023, but unlike cities and suburbs, this is slow growth – unhurried evolution that builds strength and deep roots. 

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride
Established Sept. 24, 1923, Allegheny National Forest celebrates its 100th anniversary this year – although the roots run much deeper.

Towns and attractions in the area have powerful stories and deep histories that are easy to miss when one rides through a town or past an attraction without stopping. And here is where I must make a confession: I have a habit of allowing the momentum of a ride to urge me to keep rolling, and I convince myself I will revisit later when I have more time (I rarely do). Taking a cue from George, this ride would be about using the time I now have at my disposal.  

See all of Rider‘s Pennsylvania touring stories here.

Citizens of Kane

Traveling north on State Route 66, I saw a sign that proclaimed I had arrived at the gateway town of Kane, “A Star in the Forest.” This is also the junction with U.S. Route 6, known locally as PA Route 6, a favorite road among motorcyclists that stretches east/west across the length of the state. 

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride Kane Pennsylvania
The town of Kane is an ideal hub for exploring the Allegheny National Forest. With abundant route options and plenty of local attractions of its own, it’s a natural destination for riders.

At the entrance to Kane is a railroad crossing and historic rail station set against the skyline of 19th century buildings. Built around 1871, the Kane Depot is now a museum dedicated to preserving the town’s heritage, which includes the role a Kane citizen (not Citizen Kane) played 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 people do know, and the museum tells the story with vivid exhibits. 

I idled into town, and as I had committed to doing, I stopped, walked around the business district, and even picked up a tourist map of the area (available at nearly every establishment in the region and a great resource for finding “can’t miss” stops and favorite motorcycle routes; also see the Resources at the end of this article). 

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

I love how these old towns are being revitalized with local businesses, restaurants, breweries, and shops – not the endless stretch of chains found near every city, suburb, and interstate exit. Here was Logyard Brewing, which specializes in sourcing ingredients native to the immediate Pensylvannia Wilds area. I was still on my ride so didn’t partake, but I did poke my head inside for a look. Very cool. Similarly cool is Table 105, located next door. I knew I had the right place for lunch when I spotted the ’72 Indian minibike hanging on the wall (I had one as a kid). The atmosphere was an ideal mix of vintage local architecture, modern brew pub, and northwestern PA kindness. Taking my server’s suggestion, I ordered a barbecue chicken pizza that was nothing short of amazing.  

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride
A throwback to a kinder, more social time. Connecting with the local folks and other travelers is what these small towns are (re)made for.

With a full belly and a few hours of sun left, I pointed the bike north for a loop up to Kinzua Point and back. A gentle ride along 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 trees. Campsites, recreation areas, trails, and scenic overlooks abound, although one would never know if not for the signs since each is tucked away in the trees. Resisting my natural inclination to press on, I turned at the Rimrock Overlook sign. A narrow and winding well‑paved path through the trees is followed by a short, easy walk to a spot where the limited view dramatically opens to a majestic vista of forested mountains and the wide river below. I gave George a virtual high‑five.

Back on Route 59 heading west, the forest opens to spectacular views of pristine water. This is the Allegheny River where its expanse forms the roughly 10,000‑acre Allegheny Reservoir thanks to the Kinzua Dam – one of the 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.

As the sun began its downward journey, I began my own, turning south on the Longhouse National Scenic Byway, where I was met with more of the twisting, rising, and falling terrain that makes me glad to be on a motorcycle. The path teased me with periodic peeks at the water to my left as I traced the opposite side of the river. 

I made an obligatory stop for ice cream at Bob’s Trading Post. I ordered a small cone, but the kid behind the counter kept piling on scoops until I finally asked him to stop, reminding him that I ordered a small. He informed me that a “small” at Bob’s has three giant scoops of ice cream and said what I wanted was a “baby” cone. Sheepishly, I said to make it a baby cone then. With big baby cone in hand, I proceeded past the line of regular patrons who were clearly enjoying our exchange. 

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride Kane Pennsylvania
The author enjoys a “baby” cone at Bob’s Trading Post in Kane.

With the loop complete, I wheeled into the Kane Tourist Home & Motor Inn. It’s a throwback to old‑time travel when tourists would stay in converted old mansions (a “tourist home”) or later, in one of a row of private rooms with parking spots at each front door. It would be the motor inn for me. Built in 1952, it doesn’t seem to have changed much. The rooms have wood‑paneled walls and vintage framed pictures. Pink tile adorns the bathroom. As it was back then, there’s no television, but the new owners do provide wi‑fi in case a traveler can’t go a night without streaming something. I chose to sit on a chair outside my room, sip good bourbon, and watch neighborhood kids play outside (a rare sight where I live). 

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride Kane Tourist Home & Motor Inn
The Kane Tourist Home & Motor Inn gives motorcycle travelers a taste of old-time lodging, including affordability and parking just outside your room.

The motor inn was just off the main drag, so I walked to a quaint little winery called Twisted Vine where a delightful and bright young lady was behind the bar and a youngish couple were seated to my left. Surprisingly, folks weren’t absorbed by their mobile devices; they were engaged in conversation. I was welcomed into a pleasant chat with all of them, during which I learned more about the area, about how the town of Kane has been making a comeback, about local musicians, and more. Because I stopped, I made new friends. This is one of the things I enjoy so much about traveling by motorcycle. It gives me the opportunity to escape and, at the same time, reconnect with life in a more meaningful way. Nothing fake. No agendas. Just engagement with good people in an atmosphere that is relaxed enough to invite conversation. More and more, I came to understand George’s fascination with this area.

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

One Becomes Two

My friend and fellow motorcycle safety expert Hal Deily joined me the next day for the rest of my Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride. It was fun to see how Hal, a guy who has lived within the city limits of Pittsburgh his entire life, was enjoying the vast ancient forests, the well‑preserved countryside, and the hospitality of small‑town communities. Being naturally social, Hal immediately struck up conversations with wait staff, shop owners, and patrons. He and I got into our typical back‑and‑forth banter that entertained the locals (we think), and as I did several times on this journey, I thought back to how George and his brother‑in‑law Billy would often be the center of attention anywhere they went as they shared stories and told old jokes to new audiences. They were never obnoxious, just good spirited and lighthearted people who were fun to be around.  

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride
The author plugs into the local heritage.

After breakfast on PA Route 6 at the Barrel House, we continued toward the Kinzua Sky Walk, rated “One of the Top 10 Most Beautiful Skywalks and Viewpoints in the World,” at Kinzua Bridge State Park. Once the highest and longest railroad viaduct in the world, a direct tornado strike in 2003 wiped out more than half of its span. The mangled wreckage of steel towers rests in perpetuity on the valley floor more than 200 feet below what is now a prime viewing area at the far end of the surviving structure. This is a must‑see destination for any ride in the area, evidenced by the volume of motorcycles in the parking lot.

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride Kinzua Sky Walk
A must-see, the Kinzua Sky Walk takes visitors to the edge of what was once the world’s highest railroad viaduct (before it took a direct tornado hit).

In addition to delightfully laid‑back two‑lane riding, PA Route 6 presents many rewarding sights and significant historical areas of interest. Magnificent Victorian mansions line the way through downtown Smethport, evidence of a game of architectural one‑upmanship played by the area’s lumber barons during the 19th‑century timber boom. There, Hal and I stumbled upon Old Town Smethport, the home of “America’s First Christmas Store.” It’s also an eclectic collection of historical displays that includes old‑fashioned toys, an original stagecoach, a vintage delivery truck, a rustic log cabin, and even a Civil War cannon and artillery. I can’t help but think George would have loved this place. And I’m glad Hal and I took the time to stop, even though it meant shedding all our riding gear once again. 

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

Just west of Port Allegany is an eye‑catching structure along the road called Lynn Hall. Built in the Modernist style (think Frank Lloyd Wright), this stunning 1930s residence is an unexpected gem in the woods. But don’t blink or you’ll miss it!  

Port Allegany is surrounded by natural resources ideal for making glass. That’s what brought Pierce Glass to the town in 1917, followed later by Pittsburgh Corning, makers of architectural glass block distributed worldwide. That proud heritage is celebrated in the Serenity Glass Park, an art display in the heart of town. Murals and sculptures made of colored glass fill the garden. I wish we could have viewed it after dark when the garden is electrified by lights. It must be spectacular.  

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

Following a tip, Hal and I turned north onto State Route 155 and then 446 toward the town of Eldred to visit the Eldred World War II Museum. This small community nestled in quiet hills was the site of a munitions plant during the war, producing millions of bombs, shells, and fuses in support of America’s war effort. The museum features a fascinating collection of period artifacts, photos, vehicles, uniforms, weapons, and models. There is a stunning amount of history housed here (just be ready for a curator who is anxious to provide abundant historical – and editorial – commentary). 

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride World War II Museum Eldridge Pennsylvania
The extensive World War II Museum in Eldridge draws visitors from near and far.

No Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride is complete without a stop in Bradford and the Zippo/Case Museum. This world‑class museum wraps the visitor in living history as they walk through the back stories of Zippo windproof lighters and Case knives. Photos, videos, vintage advertising, promotional vehicles, and prototype products bring the stories to life, cleverly showcasing how the products have become part of the fabric of American (and world) culture. I was fascinated by a display of destroyed lighters that had been returned for repair or replacement. (Zippo’s guarantee has always been, “It works, or we fix it for free.”) 

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride Zippo Case Museum and Flagship Store
The Zippo windproof lighter and Case cutlery museum is world-class. There’s plenty to keep visitors entertained for hours. Seeing this Zippo promotional car was worth the trip!

Hal and I then took a ride through downtown past the Marilyn Horne Museum, but we were too late to catch this tribute to Bradford’s big opera star, who was once described as “probably the greatest singer in the world” by Opera News. Instead, we wound our way to Bradford Brew Station for a late, nonalcoholic lunch. The brewery has a great reputation, but we still had to ride to our hotel across town. In contrast to the prior night in Kane, we grabbed rooms in a modern Holiday Inn Express that was both affordable and perfectly comfortable. A brisk walk through town to the Papa Scoop’s ice cream stand near Zippo corporate headquarters was the perfect nightcap. 

In the morning, Hal and I opted to ride from Bradford down through Emporium and into the Elk State Forest where we picked up the fabulous State Route 555 along Sinnemahoning Creek to Benezette. A little side loop on Winslow Hill Road rewarded us with fun two‑lane riding and spectacular elk viewing areas. 

A quick sprint up to St. Marys (home of Straub Brewery) was followed by a jaunt to the quaint town of Ridgeway for lunch where Hal and I channeled George and Billy once more, telling polite jokes and laughing with the server and other guests. You just can’t help but be jovial here. And maybe, in the end, I guess that’s what makes the forest so special: It brings out the best in people. By George…I think I’ve got it!

See all of Rider‘s touring stories here.

Allegheny National Forest motorcycle ride
Green as far and deep as the eye can see. Roads wind through 514,000 acres of Pennsylvania’s only national forest.

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Lessons Learned on a Wandering West Virginia Motorcycle Ride

West Virginia Motorcycle Ride Kanawha Falls State Park Kawasaki Versys-X 300
My campsite at Kanawha Falls State Park on my West Virginia motorcycle ride.

We all have beliefs about what’s expected of a motorcycle camper, and sometimes it takes a certain situation to bring those expectations to the surface. For me, it took heavy rain on a mountain road during a West Virginia motorcycle ride to point out my principles on motorcycle travel and what type of person I thought I needed to be to do it. 

A Beautiful Beginning

Everything was going according to plan. I was on a solo motorcycle camping trip across central West Virginia along the Midland Trail National Scenic Byway (U.S. Route 60), and I spent my first night at the Kanawha State Forest campground. My campsite was pleasantly remote and on top of a bridge that crossed a scenic running creek. Waking up to the sound of gently flowing water was an energizing start to what would be an amazing day – or so I thought.

West Virginia Motorcycle Ride

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

I packed up my gear and headed into Charleston for an early lunch. I chose Adelphia Sports Bar & Grille in the historic downtown area and enjoyed the best dish I’ve eaten on any of my dozen or so motorcycle camping trips to date: gyro macaroni and cheese, perfectly spiced gyro meat atop pasta shells and a creamy, cheesy sauce. I was in heaven.

West Virginia Motorcycle Ride Adelphia Sports Bar & Grille Charleston
I had never seen a gyro mac and cheese dish offered anywhere before I ordered it at Adelphia Sports Bar & Grille in Charleston, and it turned out to be one of the most comforting dishes I’ve had.

The First Rainstorm

Having thoroughly enjoyed my meal, I took off along the curvy Route 60 on my way to Lewisburg. Along the way, it started to drizzle, but my waterproof gear was doing its job. Then the rain intensified from a drizzle to a shower and eventually a torrential downpour. The road became curvier, with switchbacks and hairpins that would have been delightful on dry pavement but were treacherous when wet. Not trusting my tires as sheets of water ran across the corners, I was stiff and tense. Having nowhere to stop for cover, I had no choice but to press on.

West Virginia Motorcycle Ride Kanawha Falls State Park
Kanawha Falls State Park has campsites in a serene landscape covered in soft moss, which muffled surrounding noises and created a feeling of complete solitude.

Seeking relief, I consulted the navigation app on my phone and found a shortcut. To my dismay, the shortcut turned out to be a one‑­lane road with no shoulder – my least favorite type of road – and was no less treacherous in terms of cornering. I accidentally took a wrong turn onto a deserted side road, and then the navigation rerouted me to a sharp, steep downhill left turn that would lead to another side route. I froze, uncomfortable with such a tight turn on wet ground.

Deciding that I should go back to Route 60, which at least had lane lines and a shoulder, I suddenly noticed two giant German shepherds nearby, glaring and growling at me. As they both started running toward me, I quickly accelerated and turned down that steep incline to get out of there faster than they could run. That’s one way to initiate a turn you don’t want to take. 

I continued on the narrow, curvy road. My nerves were frayed by this point, and I even had a desperate thought that I should pull over and call my husband to come get me – a ridiculous notion, given that I was nearly eight hours away from home.

I finally made it through the not‑­so‑­shortcut and back onto Route 60, bitter that I could have just stayed on it the whole time. I started seeing signs for Lewisburg and have never been so relieved as when I pulled into Hill & Holler, the pizza place I had programmed into my phone. 

Carbohydrate Therapy

After taking off my soaking wet gear and ordering a 12‑­inch pizza all for myself, I settled in and let my frazzled nerves relax. I wasn’t sure what to do next. My reserved campsite was still an hour away – also along mountain roads. This time, the roads were ones that I had never ridden before, and on the map, they looked as curvy as where I had just been.

Deep down, I wanted to get a hotel. The thought of riding another hour or two in unrelenting heavy rain and setting up a soggy campsite sounded downright miserable. I messaged my husband and some of my riding friends; he supported the hotel idea, but they encouraged me to press on. They said it would be worth it, that I could do it, that there was no giving up or turning back. I felt guilty for thinking about giving up and getting a hotel, even though I knew it was the safest thing to do.

West Virginia Motorcycle Ride Charleston Kawasaki Versys-X 300
Charleston, West Virginia’s capital that’s bisected by the Kanawha River, has a charming historic downtown district.

Never one to back down from a challenge, I decided to continue, leaving the pizza place after cleaning up the massive puddles my dripping gear had left on their floor. Once outside, I discovered it was raining even harder. I hopped on and rode to the nearest gas station to fill up, and as my visor fogged up completely, I decided enough was enough. I found a hotel less than half a mile down the street and checked in. After carrying my luggage up the stairs and stripping off my water‑­logged gear, I collapsed onto the bed. 

At this point, I felt terrible about myself and my decision. I had given up, taken the easy way out, let down myself and everyone who was cheering me on. I realized I had high expectations of myself as a motorcycle camper – that I should be tough and resilient, but instead I was a wuss. Other female moto campers I had seen on social media portrayed themselves as “hardcore” as they slept sitting up or spent the night under a bridge. Why couldn’t I make it through a little rain?

After a hot shower and some takeout, I started feeling better about my decision. Staying in a hotel allowed me to regroup and relax, and it was nice to drift off to sleep in a dry, comfortable bed. 

Bears and Boulders on a West Virginia Motorcycle Ride

West Virginia Motorcycle Ride Seneca Rocks
Seneca Rocks is popular among visitors and rock climbers from all over. (Photo by Edward Bodnar – stock.adobe.com)

The next day, I awoke to sunny skies and headed north on U.S. Route 219, also known as the Seneca Trail and part of the Seneca Skyway loop route. The ride was thrilling. For a while, I forgot I was on my Kawasaki Versys‑­X 300 adventure bike since it was handling the curves like my Ninja 400.

After a thoroughly enjoyable half‑­hour of riding, I dropped my kickstand at Beartown State Park, a must‑­stop for an avid hiker like me. Beartown has one of the most unique hiking trails I’ve ever experienced, a half‑­mile stroll on wooden boardwalks that wind through imposing rock formations on all sides. I was one of the only people there, so walking through this “town” of large boulders was quiet, a little eerie, and the perfect reward after the trials I’d been through the previous day.

West Virginia Motorcycle Ride Beartown State Park
Beartown State Park was named because the pioneers thought it resembled a town for bears since the rocks are roughly the size and shape of buildings.

Route 219 took me all the way north to Elkins, a charming historic town that serves as the seat of Randolph County. Elkins was a coal and timber town in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Its revitalized downtown has restaurants, bars, shops, lodging, and museums centered around the restored Elkins Depot, where you can take a scenic train ride on the Durban & Greenbrier Valley Railroad. Scottie’s of Elkins, full of locals and serving hearty, delicious comfort food, was the perfect place for lunch.

West Virginia Motorcycle Ride Elkins
West Virginia certainly lives up to its nickname, The Mountain State. Tucked between the rolling Appalachian peaks are cozy burgs like Elkins, which are great places to stay, eat, and enjoy other off-bike activities.

Riding east out of Elkins, U.S. Route 33 follows a winding path up and over the Allegheny Mountains, crossing several rivers along the way to Seneca Rocks, a scenic rock formation that’s popular among climbers. I stayed on Route 33 to Judy Gap, where I continued south on State Route 28, enjoying curves and sunshine all the way to Watoga State Park. 

After setting up my campsite, I walked to the bathhouse and was stopped by a man in his 70s who was in better shape than I am. He yelled out from across the yard, “Are you the biker lady?” I laughed and responded, “Yes sir, that’s me.”

He asked where I had come from and where I was going. When I mentioned I had planned to spend the previous night here but stayed in a hotel instead because of the rain, he exclaimed, “Oh, you sissy!” I was taken aback and momentarily hurt until he laughed and followed his insult with the remark, “Yea right. I’ve never even seen a female on a solo motorcycle trip here in 17 years of being a camp host.”

Point taken: I couldn’t possibly be a sissy given what I was out here doing. This realization and the external validation were a relief. 

West Virginia Motorcycle Ride Elkins Depot
Elkins Depot has a welcome center with information about the area. You can also board a train for a different sort of scenic ride through the mountains.

Return to Route 39 and Motorcycle Camaraderie

Rain started again in the evening, and while it had stopped by morning, my tent and tarp were still wet when I packed them up. My final campground of the trip was at Beech Fork State Park, but I had a few stops I wanted to make along the way. Plus, I wanted to ride State Route 39, which was the other reason I had come to this area – a man on a previous trip had given me a coin and pin commemorating this road (see “Along the Midland Trail: A West Virginia Motorcycle Trip”), but I didn’t get a chance to ride it at that time.

West Virginia Motorcycle Ride Seneca Trail
The landscape of the Seneca Trail (U.S. Route 219) is a remarkable mixture of rolling hills and mountains.

For this trip, I had taken a laissez‑­faire approach to planning: Pick a few destinations and the routes in between them and see what happens. This was different from my usual meticulous planning, and I ended up missing out on a few opportunities. I assumed that Route 39 would be a curvy road through towns and countryside like Route 60, but it runs through a national forest, isn’t particularly curvy, and has plenty of tourist stops along the way. Trying to beat the oncoming rain and knowing I had limited time to get to my next campsite, I didn’t stop at any of them, which I regret. 

I continued south on U.S. Route 19 back to Route 60 when I got stuck in yet another rainstorm, this time on a four‑­lane highway. Given the recent relinquishing of my harsh, self‑­imposed rules about pressing on in misery, it was an easy decision to stop in Fayetteville at Water Stone Outdoors – a befitting name for my situation.

West Virginia Motorcycle Ride Kawasaki Versys-X 300
My Kawasaki Versys-X 300 handled well in the rain, but I still felt tense and nervous on steep, winding roads.

The store had a cafe inside, and my weather app said the rain would pass in about an hour, so I settled in with a warm and comforting chai latte while perusing their clothing options, again dripping puddles all over the floor. 

A local woman approached me and said they didn’t see many motorcycle travelers around there. She asked if I was alone. When I replied that I was, she gave me a fist bump and said, “Wow, so you’re a badass!”

This woman didn’t know that I had stayed in a hotel to escape the rain nor did she care that I had ducked into a cafe to do it again. She just knew I was out here traveling on a bike, and that was enough in her book. It should be enough in my book as well. 

As the sun peeked out of the clouds and the rain stopped, I headed to Beech Fork State Park. On previous trips, I had gone to one homebase campground and then branched out on day trips from there. This time, I had planned an actual tour where I stopped at a new place each night and packed up camp in the morning.

West Virginia Motorcycle Ride Kawasaki Versys-X 300 Beech Fork Lake
My campsite at Beech Fork Lake was a beautiful retreat.

I found this to be exhausting, even with my hotel stay in the middle of it. After packing up my kit at Watoga, I had thought briefly about pushing through and riding the eight hours home just so I wouldn’t have to set up camp again. But I reminded myself that camping was half the reason I was on the trip and I would enjoy it once I was there, feeling the weight of my beloved camp equipment in my hands as I unpacked it. And for once, the weather looked clear for the next two days. 

Related: Motorcycle Camping Tips…From the Backyard?

I arrived at Beech Fork State Park and found a perfect campsite with a stunning view of a lake. I set up camp and enjoyed the quiet solitude until I heard the familiar sound of a motorcycle exhaust. A large BMW adventure bike loaded up with gear and piloted by a man in matching textile apparel pulled around the circle in front of my campsite.

“I heard there was another motorcyclist in the campground,” he said through his helmet. “I thought I might stop by and say hello.”

We chatted briefly about where we were from and where we were headed. “You’re the only other traveling motorcyclist I’ve talked to on one of my trips,” he told me, and I indicated that he was the same. I was reminded of my recent realizations thanks to the camp host at Watoga and the woman at Water Stone Outdoors. They had both taught me that being out on a bike was enough, regardless of whether you’re traveling across the world or just across a state, roughing it every night in the backcountry or sleeping in a campground with amenities, braving the elements or enjoying warm and safe shelter indoors.

Looking at this fellow adventurer, knowing we were both rare individuals among travelers, sealed the deal that my expectations of myself as a moto camper were unfair and unrealistic. I shrugged off the unnecessary emotional weight right there on the shore of Beech Fork Lake.

West Virginia Motorcycle Ride Beech Fork Lake
The sun rising above the mist on Beech Fork Lake was the perfect send-off on my final day in West Virginia.

If you need permission to ditch staunch expectations about what type of person you should be to travel on your motorcycle, take it from me: You are enough, just as you are.

See all of Rider‘s touring stories here.

West Virginia Motorcycle Ride Resources

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Source: RiderMagazine.com

The $10 New Jersey and New York Motorcycle Ride | Favorite Ride

New Jersey New York motorcycle ride Bellvale Farms Creamery Warwick New York
The parking lot of the Bellvale Farms Creamery in Warwick, New York, provides scenic views of the surrounding valleys. The Appalachian Trail crosses State Route 17A nearby, so this is a popular stop for hikers hungry for ice cream.

A good ride doesn’t have to be a long one. With only $10’s worth of gas, I set out to see how much fun I could have cruising around close to home on a New Jersey and New York motorcycle ride, and I was not disappointed.

New Jersey New York motorcycle ride

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

It was a beautiful spring day with low humidity and temperatures in the 70s. I went out to the garage to warm up my 1990 BMW K 75, a bike known as the “Flying Brick.” Adding a little throttle as it idled, the BMW sang its familiar run run run run. I’ve owned it for 32 years, and with 28,000 miles on the clock, it’s barely broken in.

With its 750cc inline-Triple, waterproof saddlebags, and a cafe windscreen, some motorcycle reviews called the K 75 the perfect bike. It can take you around the corner for a quart of milk or around the world. I gassed her up, getting only a couple gallons for my $10. The gas station attendant admired the BMW’s silver paint and blue pinstripes and asked if it was new. I told him it was almost twice as old as he was.

Related: Retrospective: BMW K75S 750: 1987-1995

New Jersey New York motorcycle ride
My BMW K 75 has been my faithful companion for more than three decades. Its smooth engine hummed right along on this $10 ride.

See all of Rider‘s BMW coverage here.

The days of the 1,000-mile weekend trip are over for me. Most of my motorcycle jaunts these days, whether alone or with friends, are designed around breakfast, lunch, and a late afternoon snack.

New Jersey New York motorcycle ride The Village Buzz Cafe Greenwood Lake
The Village Buzz Cafe in Greenwood Lake is one of my go-to spots for breakfast or lunch. If you drop in, tell Katie I sent you!

From my home in Ramsey, New Jersey, it was a quick ride north on State Route 17 to Auntie El’s Farm Market in Sloatsburg, New York. At one time just a small shack with plants in summer and Christmas trees in winter, it’s now half a block long and sells plants, garden art, and fresh fruit and vegetables. But for me, it’s all about Auntie El’s bakery, which serves up freshly baked pastries, pies, and cookies. I enjoyed a warm apple turnover with coffee.

Next, I veered west on Sterling Mine Road, curved my way back into New Jersey, and rode past Ringwood Manor, a 724-acre park with rolling hills and a babbling brook. A slow ride through the park is usually a nice diversion, but on this trip I kept going and turned onto Margaret King Avenue. A few miles later, I turned west onto Greenwood Lake Turnpike and crossed over the Monksville Reservoir, which provides water for northern New Jersey and recreation for kayakers, paddleboarders, and anglers.

It was not quite 9 a.m., and the lake shimmered in the morning light. Anglers were out trying their luck. I slipped into the parking lot with my K 75 making about as much noise as a sewing machine – even the geese on the shoreline were unperturbed. Walking out on the dock provided a taste of the natural beauty that’s so close to home.

New Jersey New York motorcycle ride Monksville Reservoir
Monksville Reservoir was created in the late ’80s by damming the Wanaque River. The idyllic lake is popular among boaters and anglers.

Continuing on Greenwood Lake Turnpike took me to its namesake body of water, which is a narrow 7-mile lake that straddles the border of New York and New Jersey. From the turnpike I could see boats bobbing in the water at South Shore Marina, where years ago I kept “Dumb Idea,” my 19-foot day sailer. Anyone who has owned a boat will understand the name. The road, which becomes Warwick Turnpike, was all mine as I curved a large arc around Upper Greenwood Lake.

My next stop was Wawayanda State Park, a wonderful 34,350-acre preserve with 60 miles of trails and a beautiful spring-fed lake with a wide swimming beach, a boat launch, and kayak rentals. It’s a great place to take a short break and enjoy the sun sparkling on the lake. I was only burning $10’s worth of gas, so there was no need to rush.

New Jersey New York motorcycle ride
The black dirt and onion farms of Pine Island, New York.

I crossed back into New York, turned west onto Route 94, then north onto Sanfordville Road. Turning west on Pine Island Turnpike took me to Pine Island, an area famous for its onion farms and some of the blackest dirt you’ve ever seen. After a quick stop in town, where there’s a great restaurant called The Jolly Onion, I backtracked on the turnpike and turned north on Little York Road, a small country road with views of the fields and small tidy houses in dappled sunlight. I stopped at the Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery, which has a cafe, picnic tables, and acres of land. As I strolled the grounds, I admired the blooming roses and made a note to return for a longer visit.

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

Continuing east on Pine Island Turnpike, I turned east at West Street and rode into the heart of Warwick, a charming town full of cafes and restaurants. There’s free parking in a large public lot right off Main Street. I sought out a power outlet to recharge my phone and had a slice of pizza while I waited.

Farther down Main Street at the far end of town is a large public park with benches under towering oak trees, providing shade that complemented the spring breeze. On a little hill is the Old School Baptist Meeting House, a majestic white church built in 1810. It’s now maintained by the Warwick Historical Society, and I enjoyed a quick tour.

New Jersey New York motorcycle ride Old School Baptist Meeting House Warwick New York
The Old School Baptist Meeting House in Warwick.

I left Warwick by riding south on Oakland Avenue (Route 94) and then turning east on Galloway Road (State Route 17A). A left turn on Kain Road took me to Bellvale Farms Creamery, which looks like a Norman Rockwell painting of a farmhouse and has an expansive view of a valley full of farms. It also serves delicious ice cream, but I didn’t want to spoil my appetite.  

One of my favorite stops for breakfast or lunch is The Village Buzz Cafe, which is in the heart of the Village of Greenwood Lake on Windermere Avenue just off Route 17A. The cafe serves up hometown cooking with welcoming smiles all around, and its menu includes all-day breakfast, sandwiches, and sweets. Their handcut home-fried potatoes with onions alone are worth a stop. Out front there’s a chalkboard with positive affirmations written in different colors, and they reminded me of how lucky I was to be up on two wheels on a gorgeous day.

New Jersey New York motorcycle ride Bellvale Farms Creamery
Nothing beats ice cream straight from the source.

By the time I returned home, I’d only ridden 89 miles, but the $10 I spent was a bargain for a great day of exploring hills, lakes, and curves.

See all of Rider‘s touring stories here.

The post The $10 New Jersey and New York Motorcycle Ride | Favorite Ride first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Cruising the Pennsylvania Wilds on U.S. Route 6

Pennsylvania Wilds Route 6
Scenic U.S. Route 6 near Coudersport, Pennsylvania.

When I hear the first whispers of the siren’s call to hit the road, my desire to rumble off on a multiday trip slowly rises to a crescendo until I have no other choice but to pack my Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic LT and ride toward the horizon. On a motorcycle tour such as the one I recently took into the Pennsylvania Wilds on U.S. Route 6, the journey is as important as the destination, so I take time to explore along the way.

Pennsylvania Wilds Route 6

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Regardless of the destination, the trip itself must satisfy my need for the pastoral – wild land, scenic roads, and the peaceful simplicity of small towns. Cruising U.S. Route 6 deep into the hinterlands of Pennsylvania fulfills all those criteria, making for a deeply enjoyable excursion. 

Riding west on Pennsylvania’s famous Route 6, a designated scenic byway, takes you through the Endless Mountains region to the north-central part of the state, known as the Pennsylvania Wilds. This region is devoid of urban/suburban sprawl and comprises over 2 million acres of public land, 29 state parks, eight state forests, ample farmland, and hundreds of miles of rural roadways to ride.

For road trip itineraries and other info the about the PA Route 6 corridor, visit PARoute6.com

Pennsylvania Wilds Route 6
A covered bridge highlights the greenery that graces PA Route 706.

Route 6 provides a diverse and scenic ride through Pennsylvania, but it also traverses the entire country from Provincetown, Massachusetts, to Bishop, California. Construction began in 1926, and it is now the second longest road in the country at 3,227 miles. Route 6 through Pennsylvania is like a wilderness path leading modern-day explorers on steel steeds deep into the Keystone State’s hinterlands, home to bear, deer, coyote, rattlesnake, fox, bald eagle, and elk.

I began my journey by crossing into Pennsylvania from New Jersey on the Milford Bridge over the majestic Delaware River. From Milford, Route 6 begins a rolling, curving climb from the river to the highlands. Throttling on the power, I flew through forests and past ponds until reaching the big enchilada – or locally, the “Big Lake” – Lake Wallenpaupack. Thirteen miles in length, with 52 miles of shoreline and 5,700 acres of surface area, it is the second largest lake within Pennsylvania’s borders. There are six public recreations areas and a wide array of accommodations, outdoor activities, dining, and shopping.

Pennsylvania Wilds Route 6
The clear waters of Lake Wallenpaupack.

Wanting to savor this moment – and location – I turned south at PA Route 507 into a parking area and stretched my legs by walking along the shoreline of Lake Wallenpaupack and atop the dam. Route 6 passes the base of the dam as it continues to Hawley, one of the typical turn-of-the-century small towns along this route. 

Mostly a two-lane rural highway, Route 6 does have a few congested areas along the way, such as in Honesdale, but Honesdale to Waymart is smooth sailing – or riding. The mountains around Waymart are capped with humongous wind turbines, which are an impressive sight, but I prefer my mountains au naturale.

Pennsylvania Wilds Route 6
Scottish Belted Galloway cows are as tough as their native Scotland. They didn’t smile for the camera.

Past Mayfield, I left Route 6 and took PA Route 107 to avoid the major congestion around Clark Summit, reconnecting with Route 6 at Factoryville. From there I cruised through the countryside to Wyalusing, where my Vulcan climbed into the mountains with confidence. 

At the summit, both Wyalusing Rocks and Marie Antoinette overlooks are must-stops. Wyalusing Rocks, located 500 feet above the Susquehanna River, was once used as a signaling point for the Iroquois Indians. The Marie Antoinette Overlook is named after the former Queen of France of “Let them eat cake” fame; supposedly she once planned to immigrate to this area.

Pennsylvania Wilds Route 6
The view from Marie Antoinette Overlook on Route 6.

The river, farmland, and hills unfolded before my eyes, embracing the blue horizon and making me think of Jimi Hendrix’s lyric “Excuse me while I kiss the sky.”

Check out Rider‘s other Northeast U.S. touring stories here.

From Wyalusing Rocks, I weaved west with the sweet sound of the Vulcan pulsating in my ears and the cool, crisp air enveloping me. Mount Pisgah State Park is just 2 miles north of Route 6 at West Burlington. This 1,302-acre park has a lake, picnic area, swimming pool, and a scenic overlook of the Endless Mountains region. The park provides a nice stop for rest and a walkabout.

Continuing west on my asphalt “river of dreams” through small villages and the countryside, I eventually cruised into Wellsboro and the rider-friendly Sherwood Motel – my base for exploring more of the Wilds.

Pennsylvania Wilds Route 6
A lush farm along PA Route 706.

Wellsboro is a gateway to this rural region and a popular destination for riders exploring the area. It epitomizes small-town 19th-century America so much so that its streetlamps are still lit by gas. Settled in 1806, it was named in honor of Mary Wells, one of the original settlers. Restaurants, stores, and parks are within walking distance of motels. The first night, I had a tasty dinner at the Steak House Restaurant. Initially, I was a bit anxious about dining solo, but the staff was friendly and welcoming, which is typical of most hinterland Pennsylvanians.

The morning greeted me with a cool but sunny day – perfect riding weather. Firing up my Vulcan, I rolled south on PA Route 287 to PA Route 414 west. Route 414 is one of the prettiest rides in the entire state. This section through part of the Pine Creek Gorge area is rustic, with a few small communities and scattered homes.

Pennsylvania Wilds Route 6
The Lakeview Store near Sinnemahoning State Park on PA Route 872 makes for a perfect snack stop.

Over thousands of years, Pine Creek carved the 47-mile gorge also known as the PA Grand Canyon. The 62-mile Pine Creek Rail Trail is used for hiking, river travel, bicycling, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing. Outside of the wilderness protected area, riders can cruise Route 414 as it slides along for miles next to Pine Creek.

Pennsylvania Wilds Route 6
Route 414 through Pine Creek Gorge crosses a one-lane steel-truss bridge.

Parking areas with comfort stations offer river and rail trail access. At the Blackwell Access area, I met a young couple from Maryland who were going to backpack into the surrounding wilderness. We talked a bit, and then I wished them luck and warned them to watch out for the timber rattlesnakes that live in the area. Each June there is an annual rattlesnake roundup festival throughout the region.

Pennsylvania Wilds Route 6
Riders stop at the Blockhouse Cafe.

Continuing my ride, I passed the quaint village of Cedar Run and weaved back and forth on bridges crossing Pine Creek. The roadway crawled up a mountainside presenting a great view. At the intersection with PA Route 44, I roared into the mountains of Tiadaghton State Forest. About 5 miles north of Haneyville, I turned west on Hyner Mountain Road heading toward Hyner Run and Hyner View state parks. With the sun on my face and the sweet mountain air filling my lungs, I was in rider heaven.

Related: Kawasaki Announces More 2023 Returning Models

The narrow, winding road to the summit of Hyner View can be challenging, but the views are spectacular. Forested mountains roll toward the sky like a vast green sea, and below, PA Route 120 winds through the valley alongside the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.

Pennsylvania Wilds Route 6
Hyner View State Park overlooks the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.

I connected with Route 120 and continued west toward Renovo, once a thriving railroad company town of more than 4,000 people that has dwindled to a population of 1,228. Entering Renovo on Route 120, I stopped at a moving memorial for the soldiers who gave their lives protecting our country. A green battle tank that matches the lush grass and surrounding forest guards the memorial.

Pennsylvania Wilds Route 6
A Sherman tank guards Memorial Park off PA Route 120 in Renovo.

Route 120 heads west alongside the Susquehanna River and the railroad tracks enveloped by thousands of acres of state forests. This route west to Sinnemahoning is beautiful and one of most desolate areas I traveled through. I rode for miles without seeing another soul. It was the first time on the trip that I felt completely alone.

Pennsylvania Wilds Route 6
Wyalusing Rocks Overlook on U.S. Route 6 provides expansive views of the Susquehanna River.

People ask if I get lonely or nervous on solo trips, but I actually don’t. Whenever I pulled over for a photo or route check, people often stopped and asked me if I needed help. Sometimes they offered advice on the road conditions or suggested a scenic stop. It reminded me of Blanche Dubois’s line in A Streetcar Named Desire: “I’ve always relied on the kindness of strangers.”

At PA Route 872, I blasted north through Elk State Forest and stopped at George B. Stevenson Dam and Sinnemahong State Park’s wildlife viewing area. Unfortunately, I did not spot any elk. From there, I cruised north out of the mountainous area into lush hills and returned to Route 6 again at Lymansville.

Pennsylvania Wilds Route 6
Tubers enjoy the pristine waters of the Delaware River, one of the few major U.S. rivers with no dams.

Turning west, I followed Route 6 to Smethport, PA Route 59 west to Ormsby, and then south to Kinzua Bridge State Park, home to the Kinzua Sky Walk. The park’s namesake bridge was once known as the Viaduct, a railroad structure that spanned 2,053 feet across – and 301 feet above – the Kinzua Gorge. Partially destroyed by a tornado in 2003, what remained of the bridge was converted into a pedestrian walkway.

Visitors can now walk 600 feet out on the remaining support towers to enjoy sweeping views of the gorge and surrounding mountains, as well as a glass platform at the end of the walkway for breathtaking views down below. The Kinzua Sky Walk is an especially impressive place to enjoy fall colors.

Pennsylvania Wilds Route 6
The 600-foot-long Kinzua Sky Walk at Kinzua Bridge State Park is a popular destination for riders. Alas, motorcycle parking on the bridge is not allowed.

Cruising along Route 6, I made my way back to Wellsboro. There are three recommended stops along the way: Larry’s Sport Center in Galeton, which sells Harley-Davidson, Kawasaki, Yamaha, and Suzuki motorcycles, and the Colton and Leonard Harrison state parks, both of which have impressive views of Pine Creek Canyon.

Back at the Sherwood Motel, I enjoyed a relaxing soak in the warm water of the pool. Afterwards, I had dinner in the lounge of the historic Penn-Wells Hotel, originally built in 1869. Conversing with the bartender and locals, I felt as comfortable as a regular.

The next day, I began my journey home heading south on Route 287 to Morris, but this time I went east on Route 414. And what a great ride it was – weaving and rolling through the countryside, passing farms and surrounded by the green hills on the horizon.

Pennsylvania Wilds Route 6
Riders leaving the summit of Hyner View State Park.

Rejoining Route 6 for a spell at Towanda, my Vulcan climbed back up the mountain by the Wyalusing Rocks Overlook, and then I rode PA Routes 409 and 706 through the Endless Mountains region to New Milford.

Somewhere along Route 706, I stopped on a downward sloped shoulder for a photo. As I dismounted, over the bike went. Within minutes, people stopped to help. We righted the bike, I thanked them, and then I continued my ride. I had once again relied on “the kindness of strangers,” and I will pay that kindness forward.

At New Milford, I took a series of pleasantly undulating state routes to Damascus, where I rested and watched Pennsylvanians enjoying the Delaware River. Crossing the bridge into New York, I rolled south on the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway (NY Route 97) toward Port Jervis, which offers expansive views of Pennsylvania and New York.

Pennsylvania Wilds Route 6
Along PA Route 872, the author’s Kawasaki Vulcan basks in the beauty of Mother Nature.

As I rumbled back home through New Jersey, I could not help but relive this great Route 6 ride through the Pennsylvania Wilds. I knew the region, its roads, and many other delights would soon be calling me back.

The post Cruising the Pennsylvania Wilds on U.S. Route 6 first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Northeastern Backroads of New Jersey and Pennsylvania | Favorite Ride

Northeastern backroads New Jersey Pennsylvania
The empty expanses of the rolling, twisty New Jersey County Route 650 beckons riders from the tri-state area and beyond. (Photos by the author)

Greenery, blue skies, and sunshine were bursting forth upon the land like an invitation from Mother Nature to fire up my machine and go forth on a ride on some of my favorite northeastern backroads. I accepted her call and began my cruise a few miles north of the New Jersey border in Pine Island, New York.

Northeastern backroads New Jersey Pennsylvania

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

Negative depictions of the state in film and television cause some people to think New Jersey is covered in urban sprawl, oil refineries, and clogged “highways jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive,” as Bruce Springsteen put it.

Although true for some parts of New Jersey close to the metropolises of New York City and Philadelphia, it’s called the Garden State for a reason. Northwestern New Jersey and northeastern Pennsylvania are blessed with farmland, forests, lakes, rivers, state parks, small towns, country churches, and most importantly, great roads to ride. Those blessings make this loop route a memorable favorite ride.

Northeastern backroads New Jersey Pennsylvania
If you had to guess, would you think this scene was in New Jersey? With farms, forests, and few people, it lives up to the Garden State name.

Check out more of Rider‘s Favorite Rides

With the sun warming my face and the sweet fragrance of greenery filling my lungs, I rumbled south on my Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic LT. I had sold my heavy Vulcan 1700 Voyager, and although I missed all its bells and whistles, I enjoyed the backroad nimbleness of the much lighter 900.

On Glenwood Road (County Road 26) just north of the New Jersey border, the Blue Arrow Farm has an impressive replica of a western Plains Indian village. In New Jersey, Glenwood Road splits, and I turned west onto the rolling, serpentine County Road 565 and stopped at the unique Farm at Glenwood Mountain. Encompassing 170 acres, it sells grass-fed, free-range beef from Scottish Highland cattle, free-range chicken, eggs, turkey, and pork, as well as local honey and organic fruits and vegetables. They also host private farm-to-table dinners and weddings.

Northeastern backroads New Jersey Pennsylvania
A “wooly bully” at the Farm at Glenwood Mountain stares down the author.

Rolling southwest toward Sussex takes you along the border of Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, which runs 9 miles along the Wallkill River (one of the few rivers in the U.S. that flows north) and protects 5,100 acres of land. Wildlife abounds in this area, including waterfowl, raptors, coyotes, deer, and bears. Throughout my years cruising through rural New Jersey, I have been lucky enough to spot several bears, as well as red foxes, a coyote, and numerous great blue herons.

Northeastern backroads New Jersey Pennsylvania
Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge is an ideal place for quiet nature walks.

After crossing over State Route 23, I passed The Village Smith and Cycle Works, a motorcycle repair and blacksmith shop where you can get new tires for your motorcycle and new shoes for your horse. Naturalist writer and gadfly Henry David Thoreau said to “simplify, simplify” your life. In rural New Jersey, we say “diversify, diversify” your life to succeed.

Northeastern backroads New Jersey Pennsylvania
A rider and passenger cruising one of New Jersey’s empty country roads on a spring day.

Continuing on 565 to rustic Plains Road, I connected with U.S. Route 206. Cruising north toward Kittatinny Mountain, I saw some interestingly named eateries, such as Jumboland Diner and Firehouse Bagels, which has a real firetruck as part of its decor.

Passing through part of Stokes State Forest, which encompasses more than 16,000 acres, I turned onto County Route 560, sailing toward the Dingmans Ferry Bridge, one of the few remaining privately owned bridges in the United States.

Northeastern backroads New Jersey Pennsylvania
The author’s Vulcan 900 soaks up some rays in Pennsylvania next to the pristine water of the Delaware River and the Dingmans Ferry Bridge.

Opened in 1900, the bridge is 530 feet long and crosses the Delaware River into Pennsylvania. Riding high above the river on a motorcycle over its wooden planks is quite the experience. This rustic bridge lies within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, which spans 70,000 acres in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. A boat-launching area next to the crossing has views of the bridge.

Two impressive waterfall areas are nearby: Dingmans Falls and Childs Park. Both are worth a stop. Dingmans Falls is reached by a short, flat stroll on a boardwalk through the forest and alongside the stream. Childs Park is more challenging, with stairs going both up and down and a rugged walkway.

Northeastern backroads New Jersey Pennsylvania
The author’s Vulcan rests proudly on one of the many curving roads that grace this rural ramble through New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

After a brief respite by the river, I fired up my machine and took State Route 739 to Silver Lake Road – a winding, rolling traverse through state forest land, lakes, and hidden gated communities. With areas of huge trees and forests lining the road, you get the feeling of motorcycling through primeval times. Route 402 north is much the same but is a faster-paced ride.

Blooming Grove Road (County Road 4004) and Well Road (CR 434), meander past country stores, rural homes, and forests. I felt like I was riding through a simpler era in America. At U.S. Route 6, a scenic byway that traverses the northern part of Pennsylvania, I roared toward Milford, a touristy town with several good restaurants.

Northeastern backroads New Jersey Pennsylvania
The stone edifice of the St. John Neumann/Good Shepherd Parish stands stoically in the aptly named Lords Valley, Pennsylvania.

After a late lunch at the Apple Valley Restaurant, I cruised across the modern Milford-Montague Toll Bridge with great views of the river back to Jersey. County Route 650 serpentines back through Stokes State Forest, which is a favorite of riders who love to challenge its rolling curves or just cruise along serenely. Traveling Routes 519 and 23 to Sussex, I headed northeast on State Route 284 to Bassetts Bridge Road, Lake Wallkill Road, and Glenwood Mountain Road.

Northeastern backroads New Jersey Pennsylvania
Riders returning from the Pennsylvania/New Jersey hinterlands while appreciating the roadside scenery.

As my Vulcan weaved through the countryside to Routes 565/517 and back to Pine Island, I reflected on what an enjoyable ride it had been. It was one I was destined to repeat.

The post Northeastern Backroads of New Jersey and Pennsylvania | Favorite Ride first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Dead Reckoning | Touring Western Massachusetts

On the Road Dead Reckoning
In early New England graveyards, such as Adams Cemetery in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, grave markers are irreplaceable historical documents that tell stories carved in stone. (Photos by the author)

“You’re riding your motorcycle to find graveyards – on purpose?” The conversation with a young police officer on a road construction detail in western Massachusetts was brief, but it motivated me to share why old graveyards are fascinating places to explore.

Rewind to the 1970s. My dad was a college professor whose academic interests included early New England graveyards. On weekends and summer vacations, he dragged my sisters and me along to find them. Long before GPS, such trips often became a quest since Dad’s approach to navigating involved dead reckoning. “I wonder where that road goes?” he’d say. “One way to find out.” It’s fair to say that Dad informed my interest in exploring on motorcycles.

On the Road Dead Reckoning

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

Since Massachusetts has some of America’s oldest communities settled by Europeans, it has some of the country’s oldest graveyards. Three of Dad’s favorites were in the towns of Longmeadow, Deerfield, and Wilbraham, all in the Connecticut River Valley of western Mass. I decide to revisit these graveyards with the benefit of an adult perspective. Since they’re not even 40 miles apart, I extend the ride a couple hundred miles using Dad’s “I wonder where that road goes” approach, and along the way I find other old graveyards to explore.

On the Road Dead Reckoning
A cut flower signifies death, an hourglass shows time has run out, but a rooster suggests a new dawn.
On the Road Dead Reckoning
With eyes looking up and wings, this effigy implies the soul’s flight to heaven.

The ride begins in Longmeadow. Along Williams Street, behind historic First Church, is the Olde Burying Ground, c. 1718, a small section within Longmeadow Cemetery. In old graveyards like this, carvings in stone offer insights into family life, social status, occupations, religious beliefs, sickness, tragedy, and the ways people conceived of death.

On the Road Dead Reckoning
The Olde Burying Ground, c. 1718, a section of Longmeadow Cemetery, is the town’s oldest burial ground.

The stone of Ebenezer Bliss concludes with this stark epitaph: “Death is a Debt To Nature Due Which I have Pay’d And so must You.” The nature of one’s death is often explained, such as from smallpox, childbirth, or drowning, although Adjt. Jonathan Burt’s stone leaves us wondering, because he “departed this life in a sudden and surprising manner.”

From Longmeadow, I point my BMW F 750 GS north on U.S. Route 5 across the Connecticut River, then west on State Route 57. To avoid built-up sections of Agawam, I cut through Rising Corner and rejoin 57 past the Southwick fire station. The curves beyond Granville Gorge entice me to quicken the pace, though as I enter the village of Granville a flashing speed limit sign convinces me to roll off.

On the Road Dead Reckoning
Center Cemetery, c. 1753, in Granville was located away from the church, a widespread practice at the time.

Up the hill beyond the town hall, I come upon Center Cemetery, c. 1753. As with many old graveyards that are no longer “active” (accepting new burials), one cannot drive into this graveyard, so I park just off the road. Also like many old graveyards, it isn’t next to a church. Some early settlers of New England, notably Puritans, located their dead away from the everyday lives of the living.

The headstone of Lt. Samuel Bancraft, Granville’s first settler, includes a slight variation of the epitaph I saw earlier in Longmeadow: “Death is a debt, to nature due. I have paid it, and so must you.”

On the Road Dead Reckoning
This headstone in Center Cemetery includes a variation of an epitaph popular in the era.
On the Road Dead Reckoning
“…on her left Arm lieth the infant Wich was still Born.”

Continuing west, I enjoy several miles of new tar, but on the steep downhill curves to New Boston I am cursing the inventor of tar snakes. Beyond the village, I notice unpaved Beech Plain Road, and a right turn takes me along stands of trees dressed in vibrant yellow fall foliage. There’s not a tar snake in sight.

In Otis, I merge onto State Route 8 north and then lean west onto State Route 23, an entertaining two-lane that hugs the contours of the Berkshire Hills. Past the village of Monterey, I see a sign for River Road. Dad explained that roads of that name are usually curvy and rarely dead end. Right on both counts!

On the Road Dead Reckoning
Any dog-loving rider needs to find out where this road goes!

Following a bridge-out detour, I arrive in Sheffield. On the other side of U.S. Route 7 there’s a sign for Bow Wow Road, and being a dog lover, I need to see where it goes. A ways after it turns to dirt, I find Pine Grove Cemetery, c. 1758. I see family plots for Olds and Curtiss and wonder if these graves include ancestors of the automobile and aviation pioneers of those names.

I continue on North Undermountain Road and Pumpkin Hollow Road. At the village of Alford, Center Cemetery, c. 1780, warrants investigation. Among the finds is this pithy epitaph: “Gone not lost.”

On the Road Dead Reckoning
Down the road a piece, Bow Wow Road turns to dirt and delivers your humble scribe to Pine Grove Cemetery in Sheffield.

Leaving the town center, West Road gets the nod over East Road, and after a couple turns I’m on State Route 41 riding north through Richmond to Hancock. History buffs can visit Hancock Shaker Village. Shakers were a religious community known for their elegantly functional barns and furniture, and for their devotion to celibacy. (The latter may account for their current lack of numbers.)

Heading west on U.S. Route 20 takes me over the New York border to State Route 22 north and Stephentown. A right on State Route 43 returns me to Massachusetts, having sidestepped Pittsfield’s population center. Another right on Brodie Mountain Road leads to U.S. 7 north. At the five-corners intersection, I turn right onto State Route 43 and follow the Green River to Williamstown, a quintessential New England college town. At the junction of State Route 2, a left leads to lively Spring Street and multiple options for eats and coffee.

On the Road Dead Reckoning
In the 18th century, death’s heads began to soften with angel wings and carvings suggesting life everlasting.

Refreshed and re-caffeinated, I head west toward North Adams and know exactly where to go: up the Mount Greylock Scenic Byway. This technical twist-fest leads to the highest point in Massachusetts (3,491 ft). Rockwell Road winds me down the other side of the mountain, and at the Mount Greylock Visitor’s Center, I turn around to ride the route in reverse. This 30-mile round trip is too much fun to pass by.

East of North Adams, the scenic Mohawk Trail (Route 2) rises through the famous Hairpin Turn, on to the town of Florida, then back down through Mohawk Trail State Forest. Exciting curves and elevation changes are enhanced by the clear autumn day. At Charlemont, I go north on State Route 8A, another twisting gem, to Branch Road, which tracks the west branch of North River east to State Route 112. This two-lane path curves quick and easy south to Ashfield where a left on State Route 116 puts me on a favorite twisty two-lane. But first, I stop at Elmer’s, an eatery popular with locals as well as motorcyclists passing through.

On the Road Dead Reckoning
A monument for the War of Nationality, 1861-1865.

While jawing with some old-timers, I learn there’s a “really old” graveyard I should see on Norton Hill Road. As I pull up to Hill Cemetery, I can tell from the styles of gravestones that it’s no older than mid-19th century, but a war memorial right next to the road rewards the stop. Erected in 1867, it includes this wording: “TO THE EVER LIVING MEMORY OF THE SONS OF ASHFIELD WHO DIED FOR THEIR COUNTRY IN THE WAR OF NATIONALITY 1861-1865.” It’s the only place I have seen the U.S. Civil War described using this term.

At Creamery Road, I turn left toward South Ashfield then savor those curves on 116 to South Deerfield. It’s easy to bypass busy U.S. 5 via Lee Road and Mill Village Road to reach the Old Deerfield historic district. There, at the end of Albany Road, is another of Dad’s favorite graveyards, the Old Deerfield Burying Ground, c. 1690s (aka Old Albany Cemetery).

On the Road Dead Reckoning
Some old graves, including these at Adams Cemetery in Wilbraham, are marked by both headstones and footstones, carved with complementary designs.

More than a dozen stones date back to the 1600s, the oldest one for Mary Blanchard, who had 10 children with her first husband, John Waite, and nine more with her second husband, John Blanchard. Notably, this graveyard includes a monument to 47 settlers killed during a raid on the town by native residents and their French military allies on February 29, 1704.

Walking the rows of stones, it’s intriguing to note how the styles have evolved over time. Early carvings with skulls gave way to skulls with wings, then winged angels, and then urns with weeping willows. Few parents still give their newborns names like these: Eleazer, Flavia, Zenas, Temperence, Dorcas, Ithamser, Arrethusa, and Thankfull Experience. Also here is a gravestone for a young woman whose name is hard to read without chuckling: Fanny Forward.

Leaving Deerfield, a short stretch north on U.S. 5 connects to another River Road, this one following the Connecticut River south to Mount Sugarloaf. Beyond the bridge, a right onto State Route 47 south follows the river’s other bank where harvested tobacco fields and the Mount Holyoke Range provide scenery.

On the Road Dead Reckoning
It’s fitting that Dad is buried in one of the graveyards that so intrigued him.

Keeping to roads less traveled, I make my way through South Hadley, Belchertown, Ludlow, and Wilbraham, to Adams Cemetery, c. 1740. Gravestones here include dozens with epitaphs that speak to the difficulty of life and inevitability of death. Consider two:

  • “Friends and Physicians could not save, My mortal body from the grave.”
  • “Youth blooming learn your mortal state, How frail your life, how short the date.”

It’s fitting that Dad is buried here in one of the graveyards that so intrigued him – particularly one that is actively preserved and celebrated as a historical resource. Even if the graveyards in your neck of the woods aren’t as old, it’s likely they’re peaceful, beautiful, and interesting places to explore. When you’re enjoying a ride, take the opportunity to experience history in outdoor museums along the way. Explore old graveyards – on purpose.

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