One of the best ways to explore on two wheels is the gravel ride, and Pennsylvania State Forests and State Parks offer some amazing gravel riding opportunities.
Looking for a new place to gravel ride or just getting started? Moshannon State Forest is a fantastic place to check out. A number of gravel roads and ridable trails surround the outer borders of Black Moshannon State Park, an area affectionately known to locals as 'Black Mo'. This can be a little confusing, because Black Moshannon State Park is nestled in the larger area of Moshannon State Forest. You won't really know when you leave one area and enter the other, but the State Park is located around the lake, and has amenities like boat launches, campgrounds and rental cabins. The State Forest is just that, miles and miles of forest, with a delightful network of gravel roads throughout. This section of Moshannon State Forest sits on the edge of the Allegheny Plateau, which means that the road inclines are mostly gentle, even though some tough grades do exist.
Gentle, more rolling roads include Underwood, Clay Mine, Huckleberry and Hanna Furnace. Several 10-15 mile loops exist using these roads. A few 30-40 mile loops exist too, but you'll have to do a bit more climbing for these loops. More difficult roads include Benner Run Road, Tram Road, and North Run Road. There are also options for those who want to get off the road and explore some trails. Shared-use trails include Smays Run Trail, Shields Dam Trail, and Old Huckleberry Trail; all of which criss-cross this area. These red blazed trails are designated as Shared Use Trails on the Moshannon Quehanna Lizard Map and they are open for hiking, bicycling and equestrian use.
Several large parking areas offer a good starting point for gravel cycling. Tram Road Lot and Underwood Road Lot are both on the plateau for an easy start. Moss-Hanne Trail Lot and the State Park Beach Lot are both at low points in the area, so the ride from here would end in a downhill. It's also nice to cool your legs in the lake after a summer ride!
Cell phone coverage is very limited, so bring your Lizard Map and give your plans and expected return time to friends at home. Water is plentiful, but do not drink from Red Moshannon Creek! A great spot to stop that has year-round flowing water is a set of piped springs near Moose Head Lane. The State doesn't guarantee the purity of this water, but locals fill up jugs from this spring all the time.
Camping is also an option in the state forest. Your Moshannon Lizard Map will point you in the right direction for established State Park camping. Primitive camping and car camping are allowed in the Moshannon State Forest with certain restrictions. Contact the forestry office for more info on camping locations and get a free permit 814-765-0821.
This forest is loaded with wildlife, so don't forget to keep your head up! Most roads in the forest are also open to vehicular traffic so bring bike lights especially if you plan to ride in Six Mile Run; the canyon gets very dark earlier than roads on the high plateau.
Since it can be difficult to find new trails or find friends available and willing to explore the outdoors, Purple Lizard Maps has compiled a list of many of the weekly group events in the Central PA region that will keep you as busy as you want to be enjoying the fantastic outdoor recreation in the region.