If you’re an avid bicyclist and have done the local IRT and D&L trails but seek new areas to explore, you may want to pick up Patricia Vance’s “Backroad Bicycling in Eastern Pennsylvania,” book. Within this 200-page softcover she details 25 rides for Touring and Mountain bikes in the Keystone State.
Aside from being a research science associate at the University of Pennsylvania, Vance is a member of Bicycle Club of Philadelphia, the Bicycle Coalition of the Delaware Valley and has authored “Cyclotouring: The Traveler’s Guide to Bicycle Touring,” so she knows of what she writes.
Her well detailed book covers the areas of Philadelphia, Valley Forge, The Brandywine River Valley, Bucks County, the Poconos, the Endless Mountains, Pennsylvania Dutch Country and Gettysburg. And the trails she includes are for both road and mountain bikes and for cyclists of all abilities.
Vance has ridden and logged the trails she writes about which includes the most scenic, uncrowded and enjoyable cycling over country roads, mountain trails, bicycle paths and city streets. Her rides range from a 10-mile spin through the row houses of Old City Philly to a 55-mile ramble in the rolling hills of the Poconos. There’s even a covered bridge tour.
Each chapter includes a detailed map, mile-by-mile tour directions and information on mileage, terrain and difficulty. She also lists places to eat and nearby bicycle rental and repair shops (important if your bike gets a blow-out or chain should break). As an added feature, Vance provides commentary on the history and culture of this picturesque region.
As an example of her work for the nearby Poconos and Promised Land State Park, she writes, “This ride overlaps on PA 402 and at 26.4 miles on the Promised Land ride, you’ll cross the Pocono climb at 9.8 miles and when combining the two routes, results in a loop of about 86 miles. You can create a two- or three-day trip with overnight stays in Promised Land, Canadensis, Dingmans’ Ferry, Otter Lake or Lake Wallenpaupack. The terrain (here) is moderately rolling throughout. All roads are paved and suitable for any bike.”
Most importantly, her bike shop listings include, Cedar Bicycle, about 25 miles east on I-84 and 629 Pittston Ave., Scranton, 570-344-3416; Action Outfitters on US 6 and PA 209 in Milford on I-84, 570-296-6657; and Pocono Bikes on PA 940 in Pocono Lake about 10 miles southwest of Canadensis, 570-646-9443.
A portion of her history lesson on this locale is as follows, “The first European inhabitants of this area were a group of Shakers, a religious sect who came here from New England. The Shakers cleared the land of trees only to find it too rocky to farm. When the colony failed, they bitterly named the area “The Promised Land.”
Of course Vance includes a trail map of this state park as she does with all the 25 trails in her book.
For the “Ride” segments, she zero’s out the location by starting at the Promised Land park office on PA 390 and Pickerel Point/Lower Lake Road. From here she instructs to go South on PA 390. At 6.5 miles, the road crosses a small creek leading into Mountain Lake. This is part of Sky Top Lodge. There is a walking path around the lake with benches next to the road. From there she lists mile markers and directions to the next mile post and mile marker.
Vances' book is published by The Countryman Press (Back Country) in Woodstock, Vermont, and lists for $16.95. Its 8.25x5.5-inch size is compact enough to carry in a seat bag or backpack.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.