One of Pennsylvania's largest and oldest state parks is within bicycling distance, in Beaver County. The area it's in is pretty interesting in its own right; it's about here that the forested hills of the Alleghenies start giving way to the more open, rolling hills and flats which mark the beginning of the transition from Northeast to Midwest. Two well-known old federal highways, the Lincoln and the William Penn, also go through this area. Now largely passed over in favor of the interstates (and in the case of the Wm. Penn highway, a parallel freeway), these two-lane roads run through small rural villages, and avoid the big hills in favor of more gentle rollers.
If I had a car, I would probably start the ride on the old Steubenville Pike. (Take the Parkway West to the junction with Rte. 60, take the exit to stay on route 22/30 West, and then exit 1/4 mile later, park, and get out the bicycles. This cuts off the heaviest traffic, and about 20 miles from the total distance posted above.)
But the best direct way to get there on a bike is probably to take rte. 60 "northbound" (actually, southwest) from the south end of the West End Bridge. You'll head up a long, but not particularly steep, hill. Go up a while, then hang a left onto route 50. Follow 50 into Carnegie, until you pick up the Yellow Belt, then follow the Yellow Belt up Campbell's Run Road, which eventually parallels the Parkway. Campbell's Run ends on Route 60 near IKEA and the Robinson Town Center. Turn left, and bike carefully along the right shoulder for about half a mile till you get off on Old Steubenville Pike. On the last bit, you'll have to deal with getting past some exit ramps, but overall this route is the most direct route which doesn't involve large hills or bad traffic. Follow the Old Steubenville Pike west. (This is the old route 22, and has light to moderate traffic most of the day.) After about 4 miles, you'll reach US 30.
A more scenic (and slightly longer) route can be done by following Noblestown out of Carnegie. (Take the same route as above, but when Campbell's Run goes off to the right, stay straight.) Eventually you'll cross under I-79, and not too long afterwards go through some very pretty areas in Collier Township and at the back end of Settler's Cabin Park. Continue to follow Noblestown through its various hairpin turns, until you reach Oakmon. Turn right onto 978 (which is also the Orange Belt at that point) and follow 978 north. When 978 crosses under route 22, it become US 30.
When you reach US 30 (Lincoln Highway), follow it northwest through Imperial and into Beaver County. It's a two-lane road, not too heavily trafficked, but since the road is narrow, be wary of trucks overtaking you on hills. (Coal trucks tend to run along the road on weekdays, and take up the entire lane. I don't know if they run on weekends.)
A couple of miles after entering Beaver County, you'll come up on the "Raccoon Creek Wildflower Area" on the right. This section of Raccoon Creek park has a number of short hiking trails, a nature center, and (in the right season) many varieties of wildflowers, so it's worth a stop. (You can also find a map of the park here.)
Just a little bit farther down the road is the main entrance to the park. If you turn left here, you'll go up a road toward a dammed lake. (Roads and trails continue west to route 18 eventually, though they wind a lot). If you continue down route 30 instead, you'll hit a food-stand shortly after the entrance. If you continue for a couple miles more, you'll hit the intersection with route 18. You should really turn south here, if you haven't turned off Route 30 yet. (If you're feeling especially gung-ho, I suppose you could continue on to East Liverpool and make it a 3-state ride, but doing this will add at least 30 miles to your trip, and allow less time to enjoy the park.)
In any case, whether you continue to the 30-18 intersection or go west through the park, you'll eventually hit the Route 18 entrance to the park. There is a park office here, where you can pick up detailed brochures on the park and other places. A couple hundred meters south of the park office is a path going up to a waterfall and a semi-restored "mineral springs spa" building almost 200 years old. It's not far off the road, and the walk is worth it.
Continue south on route 18 into Washington County. You'll hit rolling hills through this section, but nothing really bad. Ride until you hit Florence, which is a 4-way intersection with a Stop-N-Go on the far right corner. You've just hit Old Route 22, the older William Penn Highway. (If you ride past Star Lake Amphitheatre or a modern expressway, you've gone too far.) If you haven't restocked on food and drink, this would be a good time to do so.
Turn left on Old 22 (now inconspicuously designated as SR 4004). This road will run roughly parallel to the modern Route 22, sometimes in sight of it, and sometimes not. Just go straight down the road until you hit route 980, where the road will appear to end. Turn right, go under the highway, and turn left where you see the sign for the onramp to East 22. Stay to the right, and you'll avoid the on-ramp and instead go onto another 2-lane road past a coal strip-mine, back under the highway, and continuing all the way to the intersection with Route 30. (A library is on the left just before you hit route 30 again; it can be a nice place to stop and take a break if it's open.) You've completed the loop; now just continue riding east back towards Pittsburgh.
Last updated 9-Mar-1992 by John Ockerbloom (email@example.com)