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PA 144 Scenic Ride: Touring the High Plateau Scenic Byway

I think my favorite overall ride, of many impressive drives across the state, is the PA Route 144 Scenic Ride from Clearfield County through Renovo and Hyner View. All of the roads in this region are beautiful and remote, but there is something about this specific drive that is just incredible. In certain areas you ride across the top of a mountain and have views out either side of the road to different mountains. In the final stretch as you go down the high plateau into the valley of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, you have an incredibly curvy switchback setup and aggressively gets down to the level of the River. In certain spots you have a direct view down 100 foot embankments. Along the entire route you have pulloffs for scenic overlooks. Easily dozens of them. On the day we went, autumn was giving way to winter, with freshly fallen leaves, browned out grasses and shrubbery, and some sun and light flurries that you could see move into the valleys. The landscapes are just inspiring and I really feel like this route does not get the attention it deserves for just how beautiful it is. 

PA Route 144 is the High Plateau Scenic Byway, through Clinton and Centre Counties. This is one of the nicest scenic drives in the state. Some of the curviest and abrupt changes on any road in the state can be found on this spectacular ride, with some sections looking as if they came straight out of a car commercial. To top it all off, there is a myriad of different overlooks, hikes, including the Chuck Keiper Trail, old growth forests, and so much more. Unfortunately during this trip there was lots of fog, so long distance views from this high elevation were not possible during this ride, but even with that, the ride was absolutely gorgeous. 
Fish Dam Overlook
41.2368, -77.78243

As with most of this region, the bulk of the area is covered with public land that both protects the land and opens it up for recreation for everyone. Clinton County's Letterman Wild Area is one of several designated wild areas along the route and it protects a mountainous tract of land that is home to some old growth trees and some stunning vistas. This overlook's parking area also serves as a trailhead for the excellent Chuck Keiper Trail. On a clear day you can get a tremendous view. It was still beautiful with all of the fog as well. The areas around the Cranberry Swamp, Lanterman Wild Area, and the Burns Run Wild Area.
Two Rock Run Vista
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This vista has short hikes to two different vantage points that provide stunning overlooks from an area that was home to one of the largest forest fires in the history of the state back in 1990. The forest is well on its way to regenerating, but seeing the size of the growth shows just how long this process takes. The vegetation looks very small compared to the rest within this region, which often exceeds a hundred years old. Nonetheless, it is beautiful to see how resilient nature can be after taking such a devastating blow. From this vantage point you are able to see extremely far on a clear day, but even on an overcast or foggy day this is an awesome place to explore.  

A nice glaze over some of the vegetation
One of the vistas. This area almost looks like a meadow now within this state of its regeneration. Additionally, nearly every state forest road in this area dead ends to a terrific vista. There are a number of great vistas, hikes, including the:
  • Chuck Keiper Trail
  • Kyler Fork Trail
  • Panther Run Trail
  • Rainbow Trail
  • Eddy Lick Trail
  • And many more 
Aside from the awesome scenery, there are also historic places, including St. Severin's Old Log Church, the building of a Roman Catholic Church that was built by settlers in 1850. 

All in all, exploring this region is something you want to do. Between the scenic drives around here, to the wonders of Potter CountyHyner View State ParkBucktail State Park, Renovo, and Route 120, the Pennsylvania Grand CanyonElk Country, and so much more, this region is a place that you want to check out. You are in for a real treat if you stick just to the byway, officially marked from Renovo to Snow Shoe, but you will have even more fun using it as just a guideline, exploring the different areas within this corridor of the Pennsylvania Wilds. 


1 comment :

  1. Thank you for reminding me of the places I can return to. I grew up in Snow Shoe and one part of my family is from Potter County and the other from central PA. One of my novels and many of my poems and essays are inspired from my connections to Northern Appalachia.


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