The topography of Pennsylvania lends itself to two distinct types of secondary (non-interstate) highways – mountain roads and valley roads. Mountain roads traverse the numerous long mountain ridges that cut a curved diagonal across the state – these generally have a North/South tac which dictates the mountain climbing necessity. As a result – they offer more excitement with repeated tight switchbacks and significant elevation changes. In contrast – valley roads typically hug the valley floors that are nestled between the mountain ridges and they tend to follow the NorthEast/SouthWest direction. I am partial to the mountain swtichback roads. However, I often find myself lured to the calm serenity and easy pace of the valley roads. There are several valley roads that are really well suited for motorcycle touring – among them are PA75, PA35, PA 17, PA45, PA443, PA87 and US6 to name a few of the better ones IMHO.
PA45 (aka ‘Penn’s Valley Road’) ranks among the very best of the valley roads because it has so much to offer in the way of diverse nearby attractions along its 70+ miles from Lewisburg to State College and beyond. Except for a few tight tuns on the far Western end – the road is generally straight with only slight elevation changes. The road conditions are good to excellent along the entire route so you will enjoy your time on PA45 – irregardless of your skill level. These attributes serve to make PA45 an ideal road for large group rides.
Directions:I describe the route going East to West – starting in Lewisburg at US11/15 and it ends near Tyrone at PA 453.
Lewisburg, home of the prestigious Bucknell University, features a charming downtown commercial district and adjacent neighborhoods that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Rich in culture, the arts, and steeped in history, Lewisburg is an inviting place to stroll the tree-lined, lamp-lit streets, browse the distinctive shops, dine in one of many restaurants or stay overnight in a comfortable bed and breakfast. Situated near many of Central Pennsylvania’s finest motorcycle touring roads – it is easy to see why Lewisburg is an excellent base-camp option for motorcycle touring enthusiasts of all types.
Just a few miles west you will encounter Mifflinburg, another gorgeous little town rich in history and elegant Victorian charm. Mifflinburg offers many quaint specialty shops, historic homes, and the Buggy Museum. From the 1890’s to the 1920’s – horse drawn buggies were the main form of transportation in the US. William Heiss was one of the leading buggy manufacturers in a town that was known for buggy making. In its heyday, Miffinburg, boasted seventy-five buggy makers! Because of the prosperity enjoyed during the buggy building heyday, the town has retained much of its Victorian charm is is well worth a visit!
Back to the road – about 10 miles west of Mifflinburg, as you cross the intersection of PA235 (a great mountain road that will surely be featured in a future post) the road transforms from an urban hauler to a scenery machine – treating the rider to several miles of lush, tree-lined riding as you pass through part of the Bald Eagle Forest.
BTW – the grand hotel like structure on the right as you cross PA235 is the Laurelton State Village, built in the early 1900’s as a state mental facility for women – it appears to be abandoned.
Typical scenery while riding through the Bald Eagle Forest area before you arrive at Woodward.
The road offers a few gentle curves before depositing you into the valley.
As you leave the forest area and enter the expanse of the valley – you will pass by Woodward – home of the Camp Woodward action sports camp. You will see the complex on your left, Camp Woodward is a mecca for X-Game enthusiasts, gymnasts and cheerleading teams from all over the East Coast. The sedentary lifestyle is just not their thing at Camp Woodward – its a beehive of extreme physical activity.
For a less physically challenging activity, you can stop to visit the Woodward Cave & Campground . Woodward Cave is one of the largest caverns in Pennsylvania, offering walking tours led by experienced tour guides. While we are on the subject of caves – approximately 20 miles down the road you can explore Penns Cave – boasting Americas only all water cave tour. Penns Cave tours are also guided but they are by boat. Each cave tour takes about an hour.
Below is the view of the valley across from Camp Woodward.
Approximately 20 miles from the Woodward area near Centre hall – you will see the Neff Round barn on your right.
Approximately ten miles from the Neff Round barn you will find the Pennsylvania Military Museum near Historic Boalsburg. The Pa Military Museum recounts the story of Commonwealth citizen’s who served our country in defense of the nation. Their service is highlighted through exhibits and artifacts that are documented by the museum’s excellent collection of vehicles and small arms – definietly worth a visit.
After a brief encounter with civilization (ie a few traffic lights and a stop sign) in Boalsburg you will get back to more rural riding. After 15 or so miles – the road starts to throw a few more curves at you, as well as some modest elevation changes. The closer you get to Spruce Creek the more the road changes. Its along this, the final stretch of P45, that it offers a series of modest curves and slight elevation changes for you to navigate. You can avoid it by taking ‘ PA45 Truck’ – by why would you want to do that? If you do – you will miss one of the best sections of the road as pictured below.
The sharpest turns on this entire road can be found right before and right after this tight spot
You can easily make a full day of riding up and down PA45! I didn’t mention State College which is just a few miles from Boalsburg – but I figure everybody knows about State College and the attractions therein. I hope I was able to bring to light some of the less well known attractions along the way and to give you an appreciation for all that it offers.
Blog author Brad Morgan lives in Carlisle. He also own/operates a SERVPRO business in the Harrisburg metropolitan area. The link to his business website is the only compensation he receives for producing/maintaining this blog:SERVPRO of Hershey/Swatara Professionals provide fire and water damage restoration services. SERVPRO of Hershey/Swatara proudly serves Hershey, Harrisburg, Hummelstown, Lebanon, Camp Hill, and surrounding areas. We are available 24 hours/7 days a week and are ready to restore damage to your home or commercial structure