Mountain bikers in Pennsylvania have it great. Right off the bat, Mother Nature blessed the state with verdant, rolling–and in some places, downright mountainous–terrain. On top of that, the State Park system hosts some of the best trails in the region. Not to be outdone, big cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh boast excellent mountain bike trails practically right in town.
We asked Pennsylvania riders to tell us which trail systems in the state are “must-ride” for natives and travelers alike, and consulted with local trail advocates and bike shop owners to get their input as well. The result: this list of five trails in Pennsylvania that are not to be missed, plus three runner-up trail systems that should be on riders’ radars.
Also known as Raystown Lake, Allegrippis features a stacked loop trail system boasting about 30 miles of rolling singletrack. In general, the trails at Allegrippis are fast and flowing, leading one Singletracks reviewer to characterize the system as “the largest pump track in North America.” Dirt Rag hosts their annual shindig, Dirt Fest, at Allegrippis in May, and there is also a campground located right at the trails for easy access throughout the year.
“For length, flow, speed, quality, layout–absolutely phenomenal. When I envision (the) perfect MTB trail Allegrippis comes to mind. Some trails are tame, some are bombers, some are butter smooth, some have a little rock gnar. Perfect for an MTB trip, beautiful surroundings! Love this place.” – Sea Loam
North Park (Pittsburgh)
With over 40 miles of trails and located just 10 miles from downtown, North Park in Pittsburgh is considered one of the best trail networks in Western Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Off Road Cyclists (PORC) help maintain the mostly XC-style trails and even host regular group rides at North Park. Getting the most out of the singletrack requires piecing together various segments connected by roads, so ask a local for the best route.
“Great trails! A little bit of everything–some roots, rocks, log-overs, and some steep climbs and descents, but mainly fairly smooth and flowy trails. Optional lines that include some more tech mixed things up a bit. There is also an extensive skills park area, pumptrack, and downhill freeride course and jumps. I went with someone who knew the trails, which was helpful. Some of them are blazed but they aren’t labeled. Overall really great trails with lots of variety! Stop at OTB after for a burger and beer.” – Helena Kotala
Rothrock State Forest (State College)
Rothrock State Forest in State College offers up some of the most technical, mountainous riding in the state of Pennsylvania. Within the forest, trails like Tussey Ridge, “Beautiful,” and Wildcat Gap are considered “must-rides,” especially for those who enjoy rocky trails. Not only that, there’s an IMBA Epic route known as the Cooper’s Gap Epic, located within Rothrock State Forest as well.
Cooper’s Gap [in Rothrock State Forest] has it all. Heart pounding climbs, rock gardens, hair raising descents, beautiful views and more. Check it out–Pennsylvania Mountain biking at its best! – Brent Rader
Wissahickon Valley Park (Philadelphia)
The Wiss, as it’s known, is a massive park system beginning at the Schuykill River just north of downtown Philly, stretching its tentacles nearly a dozen miles to the city’s northern limits. A multi-use trail runs the length of the park with singletrack trails peeling off in either direction, though not all trails are officially open to mountain bikes. However, the trails that are open to bikes offer up everything from fast flow to techy rock gardens. While there aren’t a lot of sustained climbs to be found in the Wiss, short, steep climbs and descents abound!
“Went riding here for the first time and was pleasantly surprised at how technical and enjoyable the trails are! Lots of tight singletrack with log crossings, tree roots, rock gardens, and some steep hill climbs. For being so close to the city this place is a gem!” – BigBenG
Yellow Creek State Park (Indiana)
For non-Pennsylvanians, yes, Yellow Creek State Park is located in Pennsylvania, in a town called Indiana. While less than 400 feet separate the high and low points in Yellow Creek State Park, riders will climb at least 2,000 feet while completing the 19-mile loop around the lake. Singletracks readers claim Yellow Creek has it all–flow, technical terrain, climbs, and descents–which makes it no surprise this trail system averages a 4.7 rating on our 5-point scale.
Barry Jeffries, owner of Dirty Harry’s Bikes in Verona, PA says, “You get fast flow through the big pines, creeks, climbs, and a 1 1/2 mile-long rock section. When you’re done you feel like [you’ve ridden] some of everything Western PA has [to offer].”
“RideYC!! Just enough miles to make the loop challenging all year round. There are some rocky technical areas on the North Shore. The South shore is mostly twisty, sometimes rooty, singletrack. I believe YC has some of the best trails around.” – mflinn77
Jakes Rocks is a new trail system that’s currently under development, with plans for 20 miles of trail to be completed by the end of this year. The first 10-mile section of trail is already open, and it’s garnering rave reviews!
Andy Georgakis of the Northern Allegheny Mountain Bike Association (NAMBA) says, “The unique and breathtaking arrangement of natural rock [at Jakes Rocks] surrounds the entire landscape and […] was used in construction of the trail, [giving it] the feeling of a different world.”
Riders who are looking for a technical challenge will appreciate the trails at Moraine State Park near New Castle, PA. While the main mountain bike route at Moraine State Park is just 8 miles long, don’t mistake this for an easy ride! Rock gardens abound, and there’s even a boulder-y downhill section to test riders’ mettle. Singletracks readers report the trails are well maintained and recommend bringing a map and extra tubes along for the ride.
Rattling Creek is an IMBA Epic which boasts more than 20 miles of trails and a campground near the trailhead, making it a popular weekend destination for many riders.
Your turn: Which trails in Pennsylvania do you consider “must-ride”?
Thanks to the folks at PORC and NAMBA for helping with these selections.