Day One – Saturday May 20th, 2017
The morning of day one started out as a rainy morning. As we had breakfast at home with the family that morning the rain began to fall. After breakfast we packed up the car and left the house at around 8am.
We arrived at the trailhead on Railroad Street in Jersey Shore, PA at 8:45 ready to begin out bike trip. After a brief stop at the restrooms at the trailhead, we proceeded to park the car and unload the bikes and gear out of the car. We loaded the gear onto the bikes and checked our tire pressures under a steady cold rain. Not having planned for this cold rain, both Colton and I were glad to have found some sweatshirts/jackets that had been left in the car. Donning our sweatshirts/jackets we departed the parking lot. heading east out of the parking lot on our way to our first destination, the true southern terminus of the trail located about 1 mile east of the trailhead parking lot at the end of Seminary street. This section of the trail is paved and we covered these 2 miles of trail (1 mile out one mile back) quite quickly. Although our quick pace made for cold hands and legs in the steady rain, as our bodies had not had time to really warm up yet. After arriving back at the parking lot we took a few minutes to get some pictures in front of the caboose located in the parking lot and stopped in the visitors center located inside the caboose. It was the first week for the center to be manned for the summer and we had a brief conversation with the lady manning the center before grabbing a spare copy of the trail map and embarking on the rest of our trip.
We got about a mile further down the trail before we had our first incident. Colton was using a camelback to carry some of his water supply, and he all the sudden noticed that his leg was soaking wet. apparently the bite valve at the end of the hose had popped off about a quarter mile back and had been draining out onto his leg. We biked back, found the valve, and reinserted it, securing it in place with some electrical tape before continuing on our way.
At about 4.3 miles after leaving the parking lot for the second time, we crossed our first old railroad bridge. I quickly learned you do not break to fast on the wooden bridge deck in the rain. I did not fall, but came pretty close when I grabbed to much brake and slid to a sideways stop. I did get a couple of cool pictures of Colton and the bridge.
At 7.6 miles from the parking lot we stopped for our first bathroom break at Bonnell Flats, by this point in our trip the rain had gotten lighter . It was nice having bathrooms spaced along the trail every 5-10 miles, while we did not need to stop at every one, the spacing worked out pretty good and we did not very often find ourselves without access to a bathroom when we might have needed one. Bonnell Flats is also the location of the most southerly primative campground along the trail. We did not take the time to go down into the campground, but we were able to see 2 tents set up at one of the sites from where we were stopped along the trail. The sites appeared to be equipped with picnic tables and fire rings. After this brief stop we continued to make our way down the trail.
Our next stop was at about 12 miles from the Jersey Shore parking lot at the Waterville access area. We stopped here and had our first snack of the day breaking out our first granola bars. This is also the first place we saw people since leaving Jersey Shore. I think the rainy weather had kept people at home till this point. When we got to Waterville Access Area, the parking lot was starting to fill up with cars as people unloaded there bikes and kayacks. This seems to be a popular access area for people doing day trips on the trail or the creek.
Snapped these pictures just passed the trail maintenance garage at Callahan Run. by this time it had warmed up enough that Colton had shed his sweatshirt and rolled up his sleeves. (15.9 miles from J.S. parking)
Somewhere around 18 miles from the parking we came across these cool caves along the side of the trail
A couple of miles later we had our second incident of the trip. We had been talking about racing and how much tighter formation you would ride in race situations. It was at this point that I got closer to him to show him the spacing that you would ride in a race. A moment or 2 later, one of us twitched, we are still not sure who moved, but we touched and both went down hard. I hit my head on the ground hard enough to put a crack in my helmet and give me a little headache. Colton scraped up his knee a little. We were both able to get back up and continue on a little worse for wear.
Our next stop was at Black Walnut Bottom Campground (24.6 miles+/- from J.S.) where we stopped for another granola bar and and to use the bathroom again before getting back on the trail. It was at this stop that we ran into a nice couple who was on the trail for a day trip riding there Fat tire bikes. We had passed them getting ready to get to get on the trail at the Waterville access area, they were heading for a restaurant somewhere up the trail for a lunch break and then heading back to Waterville. The Black Walnut Bottom campground looked nice, but was very crowded to to it being only a short walk in from a parking area. This made it an ideal base camp for many fisherman.
We left Black Walnut campground and got back on the trail, but our time on the trail was short lived as about a mile further down the trail I heard a hissing sound and looked down to realized that I was getting a flat on my rear tire. As luck would have it this happened right in front of Tomb Flats campground. We pulled into the campground and were able to pull into an open site and use the picnic bench to set our stuff as I went about changing the tire. We were planning on waiting to have our lunch till we got to our campsite for the night since up to this point we had been making good time, but since we had to stop anyways to change the flat, we decided to just Eat lunch at Tomb Flats. While I changed the tube, Colton made us up some Peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches. It took about an hour to change the tube and eat lunch since I had to take of the rear panniers and rack in order to get the rear wheel off do to the way I had the rack mounted. My bike is not designed for installing a rack, so I had it rigged with the rear skewer.
Shortly after getting back on the trail we met 2 ladies from the Williamsport area who bike with the Susquehanna Valley Velo Club SVVC. We biked along with them for a few miles chatting about there ride plans and telling them about our plans for our trip. After a few miles of riding together we decided to continue on our own, and I asked Colton if he wanted to fall back and let them go ahead or to take the lead and go ahead of them. He said he wanted to go ahead, and his competitive nature kicked in and he kicked in the afterburners and we were off, putting a good distance between us and the ladies. He certainly does not like the idea of other people beating him.
A little over 11 miles later we arrived at Hoffman’s Campground. By the time we got to camp Colton’s legs were pretty tired. To this point in the day we were 36+ miles from the J.S. Parking lot and had biked about 39 miles including our trip to the southern terminus and the back tracking for the camelback valve. Its amazing how kids can spring back to life, Colton looked so tired the last couple of miles into camp, but once in camp he was running around exploring checking out the water pump and the path down to the creek. We arrived at Camp about 14:45 (2:45pm), explored for a few minutes and then set up camp. After setting up camp we decided on an early dinner. While I got the stuff for dinner out Colton laid down for a few minutes, but was quickly back up to help with making dinner. Hoffman’s campground is a really nice campground. It was far enough from the closest access area that it was quiet. Each night there were only 2 other groups of campers in the whole campground. The camp had picnic benches and fire rings at each of the sites, it also had nice pit toilets, and a water pump as well as a nice pavilion that would be great for a picnic. The pavilion appears to have been an eagle scout project. There is also a path from the camp down to the creek making it easy access to both the trail and the creek. We talked to one other group who was camping there. One was from North Carolina and the other was from South Carolina they had come up to bike and kayak for a week. They apparently make this trip to the pine creek valley every year, staying at Hoffman campground each time they come up.
After dinner Colton and I decided we wanted some Ice Cream and we had passed an Ice Cream shop about 4.5 miles back down the Trail. We got back on our bikes and headed back out on an Ice Cream run. On the way down we stopped in to talk to Joyce Ludwig at Ludwig’s Trailside Bed and Breakfast. I had previous talked to Joyce on the Pine Creek Rail Trail Facebook Group when I was looking for a church to attend Sunday morning. She told me if I stopped in she would tell me how to find the church, so we stopped in and had a great conversation with the Ludwigs. If you are looking for a a nice bed and breakfast right on the rail trail I would definitely recommend them. The Ludwig’s are very nice people.
After meeting with the Ludwigs we headed to the Ice Cream shop in Cedar Run taking a few pictures of a trailside waterfall and a neat little tent cabin along the way.
After getting back to camp we had completed 48.70 miles in 4 hours 51 minues of riding time for an average speed of 10.02 miles per hour. It was a great day of riding, our previous highest mileage day was 26 miles, But was that enough for Colton, No, after getting the bear bag hung up he decided we should go for a walk and we went on a 2 mile walk up to the town of Blackwell and back. We got back to camp just as it was getting dark. It was a fun day full of adventures, and we went to bed excited about doing it all again the next day.
To read about the rest of our trip follow the links below.
- Pine Creek Rail Trail Trip – Introduction
- Trip Day 1 – May 20th 2017
- Trip Day 2 – May 21th 2017
- Trip Day 3 – May 22th 2017