PA 233, like so many other PA state roads, has multiple personalities. It consists of varied pavement types and quality – and it offers plenty of curves, a few tight corners and a good measure of mountain climbing too. This road meets my standard of providing at least 50 quality miles in the saddle that are relatively free of traffic, stop lights, stop signs and other irritating man-made buzz-kills! On this road you will travel through the Michaux forest and 4 different state parks:; Colonel Denning, Pine Grove Furnace, Caledonia, and Mont-Alto.
Heading North to South – enter PA233 at Landisburg in Perry County. After 17 miles – in Newville – turn right on PA 533 and then left onto Spring Ave at the 4 way stop (yes – this is a brief detour – you will like it I promise!). Follow Spring Ave for 4.5 miles to US 11; turn left onto US 11 for 2.5 miles and then turn right unto PA 233 (now you are back on track) and follow PA 233 to PA 997 in Mont-Alto about 32 miles later. Rinse and repeat
You will start-out with some steady hill climbing an good quality pavement as you head-up and over the Doubling Gap pass. Near the top you will pass Colonel Denning State Park – named after William Denning who, oddly enough was never really a Colonel. Denning was a Sargent in the Revolutionary war and is best known for his skilled manufacturing of lightweight wrought-iron cannons in service to the Continental Army.
After your decent into the Cumberland Valley you will enter a brief encounter with civilization in Newville. Here, you will take a brief detour to find a local gem called Spring Ave. Spring Ave hugs the banks of Big Spring Creek (a local favorite for trout fishermen). This 4.5 mile stretch has a nice rhythm to it – offering up a string of successive curves – its a fun little ride all by itself. At the end – turn left on US 11. After a brief 2.5 mile jaunt on the dreadfully boring US 11 you are back onto PA 233 after turning right at the light. You will glide along the valley floor for a few more miles toward South Mountain to begin the next stage of the ride.
The ride up and over South Mountain is nice – there are a few tight and slightly blind corners here. At the stop sign, you find yourself at the Pine Grove Furnace Park . If you turn left ( a brief detour from the official route) and go about 2.5 miles you will find Fuller Lake – a nice place to rest for a few minutes.
From this point-on, the road surface changes to oil-n-chip – its in pretty decent shape so it wont slow you down too much. For the next 13 miles you will ride through a canopy of trees. Be on the lookout for wildlife and the occasional hiker and horseback rider crossing the road. Before reaching US 30 you will enter the Caledonia State Park – also a nice place to take a break if you need one. The Caledonia State Park is named after Thaddeus Stevens’ iron furnace that was built in 1837. Thad Stevens was a US Representative and a noted abolitionist – he is also considered the father of the Commonwealth’s public school system . The iron furnace was destroyed by General Jubal Early‘s Confederate Calvary in an effort to damage the Union’s industrial power and (possibly) as retribution for Steven’s abolitionist stance….thus ends your history lesson for today.
After crossing US 30 you will begin another long ascent. After about 5 miles you need to watch-out for a few tight, decreasing radius downhill corners. Your route ends in the town of Mont Alto – home of the Mont Alto State Park , Penn State Mont Alto and its Arboretum. PA 233 is a great motorcycle road and when the weather is right – you will see many of your fellow motorcycle touring enthusiasts enjoying it right along with you.
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