Pedaling Through the Promised Land

Before long, I’ll be writing about long, somewhat fast road rides. But for now, the winter that never was, continues to linger. As long as it does, shorter, slower rides through the Pennsylvania landscape rule the day.

Located 17 miles west of Milford in Greentown, PA is Promised Land State Park. About 3,000 acres in size, Promised Land State Park is on the Pocono Plateau, 1,800 feet above sea level, and is surrounded by 12,464 acres of Pennsylvania’s Delaware State Forest, including natural areas. Visitors enjoy fishing and boating in two lakes, rustic cabins, camping, miles of biking and hiking trails, and exploring the forests.The forests of the park consist primarily of beech, oak, maple, and hemlock trees. Two lakes and several small streams add to the park’s outstanding scenic beauty.

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I parked in the main parking area at the DCNR Park Office. Steve, at the counter, was very helpful; he pointed me in the right direction, and handed me some maps of the park. Once outside and on my bike, I headed out to Rhododendron Trail. A rather flat but bumpy trail, Rhododendron Trail is a nice way to ease into the trail system. After about 1.5 miles, the trail turned to gravel, and winded through a small village of cabins along the main lake. It ended at the tip of the lake. Crossing the road and onto the tow path, puts you over the wooden bridge and along a gravel path, just above the beach.

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After cruising along the lake and through a few campsites, I came to Tower Trail. A technical, rocky sort of single-track, Tower Trail climbed up a few small hills, and dumped me into a dried up creek bed, before climbing back up and onto Cross Cut Trail. Like Tower Trail, Crosscut Trail is a technical trail that would have been better suited with a mountain bike. Today, I rode my Van Dessel, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. A steel 700c monster cross bike with 29X2.1 tires, she goes almost anywhere. Still, a MTB with at least front suspension would have handled the terrain a lot better.

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After navigating a section of woods, I found the Boundry Trail. A much more subtle trail, Boundry starts at the north shore of the big lake, and winds through the forest to the southern end of the lower laker, before putting you right back on Tower Trail.

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After a few more miles, I was back at the main parking area. Although windy and 45 degrees, the sun was shining, and the bare trees gave me an awesome view of both lakes from various parts of the trail. Getting in the car and driving a few miles to a place so serene and beautiful is more than worth it. Promised Land State Park will certainly feel my bike roll over it’s trails more than a few times this summer.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Golden Earring – Cut.

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Daylight Savings Time=Fun

Since moving the clocks ahead on Sunday Morning, I have been unable figure out what and where I want to ride. The when is all taken care of. The when is as soon as I leave work. With about 2 1/2 hours of daylight left when I leave the office at 5pm, I could do a road ride from work or a multitude of gravel and dirt rides from Dingmans Ferry or Milford. Today, I chose a dirt/gravel and road ride with Steve. We decided to hit the trails and gravel roads off of Old Mine Road.

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You can get to Old Mine Road from either Dingmans Ferry or from Milford. I prefer to leave from Milford. Leaving from Action Bike and Outdoor in the Heart of Milford, head out to the Milford Bridge. Once over the bridge, on the New Jersey side, hang a right onto Old Mine Road. Travel about 6 1/2 miles and make a right onto Mettler Road. Mettler is a loosely packed gravel road. When you get to the river, turn right onto Van Auken Road and thats where the fun starts. Van Auken is a mix of loose gravel and dirt, that quietly takes you into a trail after about a mile.

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The trail winds through a couple of campgrounds along the Delaware river and treats you to some beautiful views of the river and the Delaware Valley. Your probably ok here with a hybrid, cyclocross or mountain bike. There might be a bit too much rocks and roots for a road bike, though. However, I did go over the bars and into the mud after hitting a large root in the trail. Didn’t feel good at first, but I was lucky enough to pedal out of the woods. The singletrack does wind along the ledge as you climb out of the woods and make a left back onto Old Mine Road. After a half mile, you turn right and climb Jagger Hill.

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A little over a mile of climbing and you come to the top right at the Upper Ridge Road Trailhead. Thats where the climbing continues. Another 3/4 of a mile up in the loosest gravel, dirt and sand you could imagine. Alot of sand on that side of Old Mine, but a really nice section of trail with alot of up and a whole lotta downs!

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The trail comes out on Rt. 560 in Layton, NJ. You have a few choices to get back to Milford. Old Mine Road, Rt. 209 (on the other side of the Dingmans Bridge) or the McDade Trail. This ride is another example of all the terrain that can be ridden in and out of milford.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Aretha Franklin  – Who’s Zoomin Who

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Farms, Barns & Bikes

Although I have been riding a few times a week throughout the winter, I’m hesitant to bore you with the same old rides, as getting out the back door is pretty convenient this time of year. With an early spring like day, I decided to head out right after work, and meet Steve at Dingmans Falls for a quick jaunt through Northern New Jersey. A 4:30pm start gave us just about enough daylight for a nice loop through Sussex County.

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We headed out of Dingmans Falls and over the Delaware River via the Dingmans Bridge (that awesome wooden bridge, where the toll taker stands in the middle). We turned right on Old Mine Road, and immediately climbed up and over into Peter’s Valley (an Artist’s Colony tucked into the woods). At the bottom, we swung a sharp left onto Bevans Road, an old country lane, dotted with farms, separating Peter’s Valley and Layton, NJ.

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Peter’s Valley Climb

Turning left on Layton Hainsville Road, we cruised passed more farms and a few old houses of worship. Layton Hainsville is a roller coaster that twists and turns for a few miles until crossing over Rt. 206 onto Cemetery Road. Cemetery Road goes right through the heart of one of the largest organic farms in the area, and turns into New Road. New Road is as flat as it gets in the Tri State area, crossing over Deckertown Turnpike and dropping us onto Clove Road. Heading back to Deckertown, a right hand turn dumped us down a steep hill at the foot of the Milford Bridge.

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A little Sussex County History

Turning left on Old Mine Road, we went 7 miles along the Delaware River on one of the most scenic roads in the area. Old Mine is pot hole city for about 4 miles, but you hardly notice it as your eyes are fixated on old barns, trails, vistas, and an array of wild animals (White Tail Deer, Coyote, Black Bear, Red Fox, among others). There are a host of trail networks on either side of Old Mine Road. Just veer off, and explore. You won’t be sorry.

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Old Mine Road Facts and Fables

Turning right from Old Mine Road onto Rt. 560, and heading back over the Dingman Bridge to Pennsylvania, we just about had enough light to make it back to our cars.

If you want to do a road ride that is scenic and quiet (not a lot of traffic!), head down to Dingmans Falls. It only 8 miles from Milford on Rt. 209 in the National Park System.

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