Riding Pennsylvania’s Northeast Corner
Kenneth W. Dahse
June 6, 2014
Filed under Featured Favorite Ride, Motorcycle Features: Bikes, Blokes, Culture and Beyond, Touring and Rallies
When I want to enjoy a fantastic ride, I look for a place with a diversity of sights, great roads, and the opportunity to cruise through scenic areas with farms, lakes, rivers and small towns. My Favorite Ride that fulfills all of those criteria is in Pennsylvania’s northeast corner. The area runs from Milford north to Lanesboro on the New York border.
Cruising backroads across northern New Jersey’s hinterlands brought me to the Milford Bridge, where my Kawasaki Nomad 1600 glided high above the Delaware River, with views of the mountains hugging the river’s banks. Riding through Milford, I rolled west on State Route 6, weaving my way through forest parkland toward shimmering Lake Wallenpaupack, which is Lenape (Indian) for “The Stream of Swift and Slow Water.”
With over 52 miles of shoreline, Wallenpaupack covers 5,700 acres, is 13 miles in length and is one of the largest lakes in Pennsylvania. Its numerous resorts and motels make it a good place to spend the night. Ehrhardt’s Waterfront Resort/Restaurant is one of the nicest. A nearby lake walkway gave me the opportunity to stretch my legs while the warm sun and fleeing breeze wrapped their arms around me.
North of Hawley, State Route 6 is a bit slow. At State Route 652, I headed east to the Narrowsburg Bridge, turning left onto State Route 1017 just before the bridge. This rural road (which turns into State Route 1004) snakes along the western bank of the Delaware River passing backwoods homes, weaving through woods and past small farms. It feels more like you are cruising through the 19th century than the 21st.
At Damascus Township, the undulating and scenic State Route 371 cuts its way west deep into the heart of rural Pennsylvania. This is one great ride through farmland and forest with more cows in sight than people. At its halfway point, I stopped for lunch at the Rileyville Café in downtown Rileyville, which consists of the café, store and gas station. The ambiance is pure country, the food is delicious and the prices are low. Try a slice of their homemade pies. Nothing tastes as good as down-home country pie. No globs of added sugar or industrial sweeteners here—just the real nitty-gritty.
Cruising Route 371 west from Rileyville is like gliding over swaying waves in a sailboat. It is also a feast for your eyes as farms and forests line the horizon and flow into the valleys. To the south and west, you see the giant wind turbines of Waymart cresting the mountaintops. Their massive blades slice through the heavens like dancing celestial swordsmen. At Belmont Corner, Route 371 descends to Route 171 with views of the ski slopes at the Elk Mountain Ski Resort in Union Dale.
Heading toward Lanesboro, I stopped briefly at Arlo’s with its packed dirt parking lot, gas station, general store, bar and inn. Named in honor of folk musician Arlo Guthrie, it is decorated with Guthrie memorabilia and worth a quick looksee. Arlo is also the son of the famous Depression-era minstrel and social activist Woody Guthrie.
Leaving Arlo’s, I blasted north on Route 171, riding the high country of Pennsylvania’s northeast corner to Lanesboro, population 506. Lanesboro is home to the massive Starrucca Viaduct. Built in 1848, it is 1,040 feet long, 100 feet high and 25 feet wide. Parking at minimalist Luciana Park, I enjoyed quiet solitude, a cascading stream and views of the viaduct dwarfing the nearby houses and trees.
From Lanesboro, on roads my daughter Shannon once described as “riding on cow paths,” I entered the hinterlands of the northeast corner. Bouncing along on State Route 1011 to 1009, I rumbled by streams, farms and an occasional backwoods home. At Starrucca, I took State Route 4012 east, which is even more rustic and challenging. Glad that I had filled my tank at Arlo’s, and that my Nomad was dependable. I rolled along watching out for the ever-present deer.
With threatening storm clouds building on the horizon, I was happy when I rode into Shehawken, and State Route 4016 bounced me into Preston Park to the more civilized State Route 370. The storm never materialized; nevertheless, I was relieved to be out of the boonies and off the “cow paths” where I could find shelter if needed. From here, I picked up State Route 247, heading southwest toward Waymart.
Route 247 to 296 to Waymart is all smooth sailing, with expansive views of the rural lands of Pennsylvania’s northeast corner. At Waymart, I continued on Route 296 to State Route 3028, a rustic route back to the Lake Wallenpaupack area, where I would spend the night before retracing the last leg of my journey home.
While listening to my pulsating Nomad sailing through the wind, I thought of a previous run through this area with two friends: Joe Loverchio and Lynn Sehein. Joe observed, “Ken, this is one superb and challenging ride.” And Lynn added, “Yes, and totally exhilarating as well.” And they were right: superb, challenging and exhilarating aptly describe this ride through Pennsylvania’s northeast corner, and the reasons why I keep riding it time and again.
(This Favorite Ride article Rustic, Rolling Backroads was published in the June 2014 issue of Rider magazine.)