Planet   Backpacker
  "From flying monkey gods and amorous donkeys to tales of a bus caravan speeding through a terrorist-infested desert, Downes puts you right there with him."-- Ben Gohs, Charlevoix Courier
  "From flying monkey gods and amorous donkeys to tales of a bus caravan speeding through a terrorist-infested desert, Downes puts you right there with him."-- Ben Gohs, Charlevoix Courier
Biking Pennsylvania's Grand Canyon
Planet Backpacker
The Pine Creek Gorge Rail-Trail runs for 62 miles through the "Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania." Photo by Robert Downes, www.planetbackpacker.net
When a large black bear scurried across the bike path just shy of our campsite, my wife and I were introduced to the wild side of Pennsylvania.
  We were cycling an out-and-back tour of the 62-mile Pine Creek Rail Trail through what’s called the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania in the north central part of the state. It was dusk when we saw the bear, and although I didn’t worry about him showing up at our tent that night, still, we were careful to hang our food from a tree a long way from where we were bedding down.
  The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania is a beautiful gorge that runs for 47 miles along Pine Creek.  Over the millennia this creek (it’s a river, actually) cut a path 1,000 feet deep beneath the Appalachian Mountains. Although it’s not as spectacular as its Arizona cousin, the canyon’s rail-trail offers excellent cycling through 160,000 acres of the Tioga State Forest.  It’s one of six National Natural Landmarks in Pennsylvania, but still has the wild, untouched feel of a place that’s yet to be discovered.


Signed copies of the expanded second edition, featuring more than 40 routes and 1,400 miles of cycling.

$14.95

Travels With My Wife

$14.95

Check out my book -- available at amazon.com and Apple iBooks, $4.99
Bike campers will have no problem finding firewood.
 For thousands of years this gorge served as a migratory hunting and trading route for Native Americans.  In 1996, the Pine Creek Rail Trail was established, linking the small towns of Wellsboro Junction and Jersey Shore.  There are several campsites along the route in addition to a few tiny villages which cater to passing cyclists.
  It turns out that this beautiful gorge packs more black bears per square mile than almost any other region of the country; in 2010, hunters took 894 bears in the area.  The day after our bear encounter, I saw another bear swimming across the river.  Other wildlife includes beavers, deer, eagles, turkeys and otters.
  I first heard of the trail a few years back from Bob Otwell, who cycled the entire perimeter of the United States in 2011-12 with his wife Laura.  Bob said that their ride through the gorge was one of the best stretches of their entire trip.  We moved it to the top of our “must-do” cycling list after that endorsement.
  The trail is “paved” with crushed limestone, so plan to ride a hybrid or mountain bike, or a touring bike with wide tires.  Food stops are few and far between, so pack along some grub and energy snacks.  Other essentials: two water bottles, sunscreen, bug spray and the usual stuff recommended in my book: “Biking Northern Michigan: the Best & Safest Routes in the Lower Peninsula.”
  More info at: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us