As a motorcycle rider, there’s no greater joy than finding a route that wanders left and right more than it travels straight. A route that can’t be travelled casually, but one that requires attention, requires you to read the road ahead, to anticipate where it is going next, and forces you to find the perfect balance of throttle, brake, and body position. That is the experience that motorcyclists dream of.
Last year I heard about just such a road in northern Pennsylvania, State Route 44. A 72 mile stretch of twisted highway that runs from Jersey Shore, PA to Coudersport, PA through the Susquehannock State Forest. I finally was able to find a weekend where I could head south and check it out first hand.
I wanted to hit the twisties first thing in the morning, so I decided to spend a night in Wellsboro, PA and start fresh. Wellsboro is a quaint little town near the Pine Creek Gorge, Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon. With gas lamps lighting the streets, it feels like a throwback to simpler times. The highlight may have been the Wellsboro diner, an old fashioned diner, with friendly staff and a fantastic breakfast.
With a belly full of eggs and bacon, it was time to gear up and put my Triumph Bonneville through the paces.
I took off heading south on Route 287 towards the town of Morris where I picked up Route 414 and where the ride started to get fun. 414 wanders through the state forest following along Pine Creek. It’s a very narrow stretch of road, that is often bordered by rising cliffs on one side of the road, and a drop-off into the creek on the other side. The route passes by many camps and cottages as it makes the 30 mile trek to State Route 44. Between the road width, extremely sharp turns, and sometimes questionable pavement, this was not really a high speed run, but was a grin filled run nonetheless.
Route 414 comes to a tee at State Route 44. I turned right and began to make my way the 50 plus miles towards Coudersport, PA. Route 44 started out immediately with some fast pace turns, banked perfectly, inspiring confidence as I pushed my retro bike a bit harder. With no real towns or cross roads to speak of, there was very little to slow down the pace. As the route continued north, the terrain started to vary more as it worked it’s way through the Allegheny mountains. The more the terrain varied, the more exciting the ride became. All the internet hype had been true, this was nearly a perfect motorcycle route. Before long, I was heading west on historic Route 6 to Coudersport, where I stopped to fill up the tank and plan the next leg of my journey. If there had been more time in my day, I would have turned back around and run it all over again…but it was time for me to head north and put this trip in the log book.
Pennsylvania offers a lot of great riding opportunities, but I’d be surprised if someone could find a route more perfect than State Route 44. If you live within a couple hundred miles of Wellsboro, PA, it’s worth the trip. For the rest of you, I’m sorry…you’ll have to read between the lines I’ve written and imagine what it’s like to ride it yourself.