An increased interest in outdoor recreation in recent years has led many people to discover the natural beauty of our public lands and rail trails. All along the PA Route 6 corridor, dozens of great trails are just waiting to be explored. However, not all of these public lands are managed the same way or governed by the same set of regulations, especially in regards to bicycle travel.
Here are a few resources to check out when planning a bike trip on public lands in Pennsylvania.
If your trip crosses state game lands…
The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) owns and manages more than 1.5 million acres of state game lands throughout the Commonwealth. Many of these game lands host a network of designated bicycle routes. However, these multi-use roads are only open at certain times of year. Riding activities are not permitted (except on Sundays or on roads open to public travel) from the last Saturday in September thru the third Saturday in January, and before 1 p.m. from the second Saturday in April thru the last Saturday in May unless you are lawfully engaged in hunting, trapping, or fishing on state game lands. All routes open to travel are marked with appropriate signage.
You can learn more about these routes and their locations on the PGC website.
If your trip crosses land owned and managed by the DCNR…
The Pennsylvania DCNR manages several different types of public lands, including state forests and state parks, and each comes with slightly different regulations. If you’re looking to get even more “off road” and explore some mountain biking options, check out this page on the DCNR website dedicated to Mountain Biking in State Forests and Parks.
If you’re bicycling in a group…
Be sure to check regulations on various types of public lands before planning a group trip. Riding any roads or trails on state forest land, for instance, which is managed by the DCNR, requires permits for groups of 10 or more. Other public lands may have similar requirements, so it’s always good to know the rules before you go.
If your trip is scheduled to occur on public lands during hunting season…
State agencies manage public lands as multi-use destinations. During hunting season, especially, some public lands receive peak traffic as hunters, bikers, hikers, and other user groups all want to be outside enjoying nature. It’s always a good idea to know hunting season dates before you plan a trip. Visit the PGC website to see a full list of hunting season dates as well as any regulations that may apply.
If you ride an e-bike…
E-bikes are not permitted for travel on state game lands any time of year. Only Class 1 e-bikes are permitted for travel on lands owned by the DCNR. A Class 1 e-bike is defined under the following standards:
- Electric motor less than 750 watts
- Fully functional pedals
- Weight not exceeding 75 lbs.
- Maximum speed less than 20 mph
- Does not have capacity to be completely self-propelled (must be pedaled to engage electric motor)
Here is a great resource that answers many questions regarding the use of electric bikes on public lands in Pennsylvania.
If you’re riding on public routes of transportation…
Even if you’re not riding on public lands or back roads, it’s good to know what you can or cannot do on public routes of transportation. A quick stop by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation website will provide a quick rundown of laws pertaining to bicycles, bike travel, and safety.
Pennsylvania’s Vehicle Code considers “pedalcycles” as vehicles and provides that every person riding a pedalcycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and responsibilities applicable to a driver of a vehicle, with certain exceptions. To view those exceptions, as well as to know your rights as a cyclist on public routes of transportation, visit the PennDOT website.