Mountain Biking in Pennsylvania State Forests and Parks
Mountain biking is an activity for all ages and abilities. In Pennsylvania, DCNR trail systems open to mountain biking range from broad, fairly smooth forest dirt roads to single-track, highly technical trails specifically created and designated for mountain biking.
The degree of difficulty varies considerably. Some trails are ideal for beginners and families while other trails appeal to the seasoned mountain biker, the expert looking for that next challenge.
Mountain Biking in State Forests
Approximately 3,800 miles of state forest trails are open to mountain biking and of those, 447 miles within 11 state forests are specifically designated and maintained for mountain biking.
While most state forest trails and roads are open to this activity, trails that are not open to mountain biking include:
- Natural areas
- Designated hiking trails (blazed with yellow or orange)
- Trails specifically marked closed
Those not permitting mountain bikes will be posted as closed to that activity.
Some state forests have produced maps either specifically for mountain biking or for specific trail systems that are multi-use trails. Check with state forest offices for details and multi-use trail maps.
Pennsylvania state forests that are favorites among mountain bikers include:
Mountain Biking in State Parks
Mountain biking is permitted in 32 Pennsylvania state parks. Each park offers specific opportunities and restrictions for this activity. State parks are open daily from sunrise to sunset throughout the year.
State Parks with especially popular mountain biking trails include:
Please check with individual parks for mountain biking opportunities and trail details.
Mountain Biking on Pennsylvania Rail Trails
Many rail trails have been developed for mountain biking on abandoned railroad grades throughout the state, and many transect the state forests.
Some have been surfaced specifically for this use and the cyclist does not have to worry about motorized vehicles on these trails.
Some rail trails, such as the 62-mile Pine Creek rail trail, have developed trailheads and camping facilities. Most of these trails also have specific trail maps developed for users.
Connecting with Other Mountain Bikers
Most mountain bike clubs and organizations promote and preserve mountain biking by:
- Hosting local group rides
- Organizing mountain biking events
- Building and maintaining trails
Participating in a group ride is a great way to get started and provides the opportunity to get outdoors and spend time with other active people.
Organized rides frequently incorporate a mix of distances and skill levels to include a range of abilities.
Mountain Biking Trail Rules and Etiquette
Many state park and state forest trails are used for multiple activities. In order to enjoy, preserve, and protect this common resource, all trail users must maintain a mutual respect for one another and practice trail etiquette:
- Follow all rules and regulations.
- Keep alert and avoid startling other trail users.
- Yield and dismount to oncoming trail users unless they have already yielded.
- Pass slower trail users only when safe to do so, and only when they are aware of your presence and giving way for you to pass them.
- Generally, uphill travelers should be given the right of way.
- When approaching horses: speak calmly, slow down, and move off the trail to the downhill side of rider and animal.
- Allow 24 to 48 hours after any storm for the trail surface to dry out -- riding in wet conditions can destroy trails and cause trail closures.
- Practice Leave No Trace Principles:
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of trash properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimize campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of other visitors
Mountain Biking Safety Tips
- Wear a properly fitting helmet and eye protection.
- Children under the age of 12 must wear approved helmet -- Pennsylvania Act 72 requires bicyclists under the age of 12 to wear an ANSI, SNELL, ASTM, or CPSC approved helmet when riding a bicycle (helmets must be worn level and snug on top of the head with the chin strap securely fastened).
- Many trails are in areas open to hunting; be aware of the hunting season calendar and wear fluorescent orange accordingly, or limit riding to Sundays during hunting seasons.
- Ride trails appropriate for your skill level and understand that terrain and difficulty level can change along a trail.
- Always ride with a partner and let others know your plans.
- Dress according to weather conditions and be alert to changing conditions.