It’s tough to review Pennsylvania’s network of mountain biking trails and not come up with such descriptors as harsh, unforgiving, and technical. And while there are easy and intermediate trails to be found in Pa, it seems like most of them are just really really hard.
That’s almost entirely due to the rocky terrain of this northern state. It seems like every trail is littered with rocks. This makes for trails that range from tough to extremely hard.
Pennsylvania’s trails are spread across the state with trails in both rural and metropolitan areas from the Wissahickon Loop just minutes from center city Philadelphia to IMBA Epic Rattling Creek in the rural central part of the state.
The highest concentration of trails can be found around State College, which is home to massive Penn State University. Trail systems in this mountainous area include the aforementioned Rattling Creek and Rothrock, another IMBA Epic.
Although the trails on this list are spread over hundreds of miles, there is one thing you will find plenty of on all of them; rocks.
Here are 10 of the best mountain bike trails in Pennsylvania.
1. Wissahickon Loop, Bala-Cynwyd
You’d be hard-pressed to find a mounting biking trail more accessible to a major city than the Wissahickon Loop, which is located just miles from the city center, Philadelphia.
Circling the Wissahickon Creek Gorge, this trail has a surprisingly backwoods feel for a trail in such an urban area.
This trail is a difficult technical loop skirting the Wissahickon Creek Gorge that includes a creek crossing and some tough climbing. You’ll also face a fast downhill section that features a number of jumps and some nice flow sections.
Expert options are sprinkled throughout the trail including some skinny bridges and some tough steps sections.
2. Best of Laurel, Boswell
This trail includes a medley of the top trails in the Forbes State Forest. You won’t find much in the way of climbing here, but you will face plenty of rocks.
This is a technical ride that involves riding through crevices, navigating across large rock formations, picking your way through never ending rock gardens, and hopping gaps between boulders.
There is so much rock here that you mind find yourself wondering if there’s an actual trail underneath it all.
And if that’s not enough, you’ll also have the option to take on a few skinny bridges and log piles if you choose.
3. Rattling Creek, Lykens
Located just north of chocolate town Hershey, Pa., you’ll find some of the sweetest (pun intended) singletrack in the state at Rattling Creek. This is a grizzled old school MTB trail, that, if it could speak, might tell you that flow is for sissies.
This 23-mile loop, one of two IMBA epics in the state, is signature Pennsylvania singletrack with plenty of rock gardens and features to navigate.
This aptly named Epic will rattle your skull as you navigate rocks both big and humongous. A dual-suspension mountain bike is highly recommended.
That said, the Rattling Creek trail itself has a few sections rock-free enough for some satisfying and much needed downhill fun.
4. Rothrock State Forest, Boalsburg
Located near Penn State University, Rothrock State Forest, which includes the state’s other IMBA epic, offers the most mountainous trails you can find in the state.
With more than 20 trails spanning more than 20 miles with nearly 5,000 feet of ascent, this is one behemoth of a trail system. Be prepared to climb but also be ready to snap some photos as this trail system offers some tremendous views of the Appalachian Mountains.
And true to Pennsylvania mountain bike riding, the terrain is thick with rocks. Expect to navigate many a rock garden on this trail system. It’s not all technical, though. Some sections have been renovated to feature more flow.
5. North Park, Allison Park
Located just outside Pittsburgh, North Park offers more than 40 miles of rugged backwoods singletrack.
You’ll find a lot of varied terrain in this extensive system, including long winding trails through tall hardwoods, challenging technical rock gardens, and some flow sections with plenty of whoop-dee-dos.
Although this trail does not have a huge amount of elevation change, it does feature several fast and flowy descents.
North Park also boasts an impressive freeride area with plenty of jumps, skinny bridges, and drops to help you work on improving your skills.
6. Jake's Rocks True Green Loop, Warren
For a relatively short loop, it’s hard to beat the impressive variety offered by Jake’s Rocks. This trail is remote, located in the rural northwestern parts of Pennsylvania, but well worth it.
Start off with the F Trail, which leads you on a moderate climb that quickly pays off with some stunning views of the adjacent reservoir. Continue on for some gentle climbs and descents before hitting Coal Knob, where Jake’s Rocks gets its name.
Over the next couple of miles you’ll bike across a massive sheet of rock and over plenty of slick rock sections that aren’t challenging but offer interesting changeups in terrain.
Once you’ve mastered this section you can expand to some of the tougher trails at Jakes Rocks.
A relatively newer trail designed specifically for mountain biking, Allegrippis features some 30-miles of single track loops that incorporate long climbs, thrilling descent, and stream crossings with some of the most beautiful lake views you’ll find in the Pennsylvania.
The loops are stacked, allowing you to create countless combinations for riding.
Allegrippis is a true testament to the modern way of designing mountain bike trails. These trails are uncharacteristically smooth and flowy as Pennsylvania trails go, giving you a break from the state’s typically rocky terrain.
One of its most impressive features is one of its newest, which is the Allegrippis skills park that debuted just a few years ago.
8. Yellow Creek State Park, Clymer
Technical, narrow single track with plenty of rocks both large and small to navigate; this is classic rocky Pennsylvania mountain bike riding.
This very technical trail winds through dense western Pennsylvania forests. It makes excellent use of the terrain with plenty of creative options for going up and over boulders.
And while most are doable by intermediate riders, the sheer number of rock features makes this an expert only course.
There are more than 20 miles of singletrack here, but don’t expect to cover it all in a couple of hours. Though there are some flow sections, many natural rock features and gardens will keep most riders’ overall pace slow.
9. Twisted Furnace Ride, Biglerville
For those twisted few who love to punish themselves with killer climbs, there’s the Twisted Furnace Ride. With this trail, you get steep climbs to go with the requisite Pennsylvania rocky terrain.
The sufferfest begins at the start of the ride with a tough climb through a series of rock gardens.
That climb is hard enough, but it’s the ascent that begins at around mile eight that really challenges. It’s a two-mile slog up a painfully steep logging road aptly named Dead Woman’s Hollow.
After challenging your cardio abilities, the trail then tries your bike handling skills with a steep and technical 2-mile descent.
10. The Raven, Milroy
If you’re into enduro mountain bike riding, or just like punishing your body, then the Raven might be for you.
This trail, which serves as the location for the popular Raven Enduro race, will test you in all kinds of ways.
The terrain is rocky and extremely technical. Prepare for your brain to be bouncing around in your skull for much of this ride. That said, this trail gives you a nice mix of terrain.
At one point you’ll be bouncing through rock gardens on a trail that is almost indiscernible while at another point you’ll be riding flowy trail over soft pine needles through tunnels of rhododendron.