Meandering Through the Hinterlands of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania motorcycle ride
A solo rider flying the twisties of the Hawks Nest high above the Delaware River. Photos by the author.

When I head out for an overnight adventure, I like to ride back roads in the hinterlands that are devoid of the traffic and complexity of the 21st century. I seek the simplicity in life that naturalist writer Henry David Thoreau advocated more than 150 years ago. Cruising alongside lakes and rivers, through forests, over mountains and by farms on rolling, serpentine two-lane roads make my trip. Meandering through the hinterlands of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania suits me as an excellent favorite ride.

Pennsylvania motorcycle ride
Map of the route taken, by Bill Tipton/compartmaps.com.

I began my journey on Westbrook Road in Ringwood, New Jersey, crossing the Westbrook Bridge over the expansive 2,310-acre Wanaque Reservoir. Views of sparkling blue water licking the mountainous shorelines north and south of the bridge are impressive. Snaking along the bumpy shoreline road, I turned right onto Stonetown Road, a favorite of local riders. This rolling, weaving road runs through forests and past country homes before bursting into the open sky at the Monksville Dam and Reservoir. A parking area on the other side has a walkway across the dam and provides a scenic opportunity to stretch your legs.

Pennsylvania motorcycle ride
The Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church in Union Dale, Pennsylvania, started as a farm church for European immigrants in 1904 and was built at its current location in 1923. It gives you the feeling of being on the Russian steppes rather the farmland of Pennsylvania.

From the dam, I continued on Route 511 cruising through Long Pond Ironworks State Park and crossing over the reservoir toward the eight-mile-long Greenwood Lake, which is half in New Jersey and half in New York. You can ride along the east or west shore; both are scenic but Lakeside Road (the west side: Routes 511/210) has more expansive vistas of the lake. Rumbling along the sun-drenched Lakeside Road, I drank in the views of the sparkling water, boats and the forested mountains rising from the shoreline. Cruising into the Village of Greenwood Lake with its 1950s vibe, I connected with Route 17A, which serpentines up the mountain to The Bellvale Creamery overlook.

Pennsylvania motorcycle ride
Thanks for the delicious ice cream!

There the hinterlands spread out before your eyes like a smorgasbord of farmland and forest, and the ice cream isn’t bad either. Gliding down the mountain on my 1,700cc Kawasaki Voyager to Warwick, I sailed over the waves of Routes 1A and 1, through the black dirt farmland of Pine Island while breathing in the sweet aroma of its many onion farms. Just northwest of Port Jervis is one of New York’s premiere motorcycling roads, the Route 97 Upper Delaware Scenic Byway. This fantastic road snakes alongside 70 miles of the mighty Delaware River. The famous Hawks Nest section has scenic overlooks hundreds of feet above the Delaware River, where Route 97 cuts into the mountainside and has more curves than a sidewinder.

Thundering northwest while paralleling the Delaware River is a rider’s dream: weaving in and out of forests but with river vistas of rapids, smoothly flowing sections and river runners. You might even spot a bald eagle nesting or swooping down from the heavens like a World War II dive bomber to snatch a tasty fish for its lunch.

Pennsylvania motorcycle ride
“In the middle of the night I go walking in my sleep From the mountain of faith To the river so deep” —Billy Joel, “In the Middle of the Night” The mighty Delaware River flowing below the Hawks Nest.

Crossing into Pennsylvania at Cochecton on the Damascus Bridge, I headed west on the winding and rolling Route 371, which travels into Pennsylvania’s lush farmland. At the Route 191 intersection, I headed northeast, continuing into rural Pennsylvania with its country churches, farms and woodlands. Soon this snaking road drifted back toward the forested western shore of the Delaware River. Reaching Route 370, I again headed west toward my night’s destination: an old inn at a great location. Unfortunately, I discovered it was much in need of improvements, so I shall say no more.

Pennsylvania motorcycle ride
“Almost heaven, [Pennsylvania] Younger than the mountains blowing like a breeze Country roads, take me home” —John Denver, “Take Me Home, Country Roads”

The next morning I fired up the Voyager and headed southwest on Route 370 to Route 670, both great roads that sail smoothly through the wide-open Pennsylvania countryside. At Belmont Corner, the rustic and bumpy Belmont Turnpike (Route 4023) leads through backcountry farmland; no gentleman-farmer farm stands here, just the real deal: cows, barns, manure and corn.

Pennsylvania motorcycle ride
How sweet it is breathing in the scents of the Pine Island black dirt farm region.

I rode the bumpy Route 4023 south to Routes 247/296, which are equally scenic but a far less rustic ride with smooth pavement. Thundering toward Waymart, its mountaintop wind turbines stand guard over the territory below like centurions. South of Waymart, I turned onto Route 3028, bouncing my way through the countryside until I took respite at the humongous Lake Wallenpaupack. From there I cruised over the rolling hills and through the forests of U.S. Route 6 to Milford, where I stopped for lunch and a looksee at the motorcycle apparel and gear store: Life Behind Bars.

Pennsylvania motorcycle ride
A lone kayaker enjoys some rays while feasting his eyes on the 5,700-acre Lake Wallenpaupack.

Riding across the Milford Bridge, high above the Delaware River, I felt like an eagle gliding through the heavens. Heading north on the sinuous Route 521 to Port Jervis, I decided to take the same route home from whence I came. With the sun bathing my face and the low rumble of my Voyager humming in my ears, I knew it would not be long until I again meandered through the hinterlands of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. After all, this favorite ride has a wild river, farms and forests, country churches and fantastic roads to ride.

Pennsylvania motorcycle ride
My Voyager gazes west into the hinterlands.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here