The Best Mountain Bike Trails in Pennsylvania...
...are not actually in PA: they’re right across the border in Delaware. I’m talking about Middle Run Park and White Clay Creek. I biked these trails with Rolly yesterday, and I was amazed by their awesomeness. I haven’t had this much fun biking in a long time. In fact I’d say these are the best trails I’ve ever ridden.
We started at the parking lot for Middle Run Valley Natural Area, off Possum Hollow Road. From there the trails go into the woods and then loop all over the place. We did 11.4 miles (in 3 hours total with 90 minutes riding time) and I’m sure we didn’t even bike half of the total trail length. We were using a copy of this map, but if you’ve got a GPS-enabled smartphone and a couple of hours to ride, you could just note the location of the parking lot, then head into the woods and ride. The trails are mostly all loops and you could pretty easily find your way back.
What’s so great about Middle Run Park is that the trails are mostly smooth dirt singletrack, without any huge hills. There are lots of hills, but they’re mostly small, so that you’re not killing yourself grinding up any mountains. Instead you’re flying up and down these small fast hills, then flying through a meadow, then flying over a creek, then flying through a creek... it’s MTB heaven. The place was apparently designed by bikers specifically for bikers, and it shows. They’ve done a great job.
There’s a nice "Skills Trail" that has log rides, wooden plank bridges, and even teeter-totters. There are some pretty big drops to be dropped too. And throughout the park there are quite a few plank bridges, some over creeks and some just for fun, some with railings and some without. It’s not exactly Kranked, but in some spots it kinda feels like it.
The terrain is pretty varied too, even in the relatively small area that we covered. There’s some plain old forests, some beautiful meadows, and we even hit a pine forest, which smelled wonderful. One of my favorite parts was a tight, windy, small-hilly section that was cut into the side of a larger hill; it had a decent drop off the one side and really just felt like a jungle to me.
Perhaps the best thing about Middle Run, for me, is the lack of rocks. I’m used to riding in places like French Creek, Wissahickon/Fairmount, and a few places near State College, all of which are essentially giant rock gardens. You ride it if it’s all you’ve got, but I would never ride those places again if I had something like Middle Run nearby. Alas, Middle Run is about 75 minutes away, but even at that, I intend to make many trips to there in the future. The difference between riding the local pure-rock trails and riding Middle Run is like night and day.