Wellsboro, Pennsylvania Shamrock Tour®: Among Penn’s Woods

Text: Alfonse Palaima • Photography: Alfonse Palaima

Pass through any restaurant or transportation center in or near the state of Pennsylvania and you’ll find brochures for every type of tourist attraction imaginable: adventure parks, amusement parks, historical landmarks, wacky and wonderful private collections of stuff, and more. One brochure in particular is unique; instead of promoting a singular place, it’s for a road, U.S. Route 6, which crosses the entire state, making it an attraction unto itself. Stitching together highlights and landmasses, Route 6 generally runs along the northern border with New York.

In this Shamrock Tour®, we’ll set up basecamp in the middle of the state and explore regions north, south, east, and west. There’s something for everyone to enjoy, from skiing to stargazing, and history to simply kicking back. Let’s ride. 

“Take the High Road” they suggest in the brochure, leading not only general travelers in the right direction, but motorcyclists specifically. The brochure and accompanying website suggest landmarks and routes for riders to follow, making our job here at the magazine a tiny bit easier. But choosing which of nine loops to ride returns the challenge right back to our court. Each loop is dotted with scenic vistas and heritage sites between the Pocono Mountains in the east to Lake Erie, 400 miles west. 

Called one of “America’s most scenic drives,” by National Geographic, U.S. Route 6 dates to 1807. In 1925, the route was incorporated into the national highway system, becoming one of the country’s first transcontinental highways; it’s also one of the longest, beginning in Cape Cod, MA, and terminating in Long Beach, CA. I grew up around here—100 miles east of Wellsboro—yet this route is entirely new to me. It took me 20 years, and moving to California, to realize the beauty of a backcountry road. Riding this one from coast to coast has long been on my bucket list; this ride is a step in the right direction.

Route 6 crosses though many of the state’s counties; we’ll focus mostly on two in the middle, Potter and Tioga, making four day loops out of Wellsboro, the county seat of Tioga, named for Mary Wells, the wife of one of the original settlers in 1806. From there we’ll go hunting for covered bridges, waterfalls, and dark skies. 

Falling Water & Pouring Stones—North Loop, 148 Miles

Head north out of Wellsboro and stay on Route 287 toward Tioga. If you want to stay off the highway, Route 287 will take you to Corning, NY, in about 45 minutes. Or you can hop on the highway and speed up your approach to the city. Crossing into New York state on the slow road, at the terminus of the Mid-Atlantic Backcountry Discovery Route in Lawrenceville, PA, I met some adventure riders taking selfies at the border sign. This region appeals to every type of rider. 

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the July/August 2019 back issue.