Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Ride around Huntsville Reservoir

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

It’s been far too long since I wrote something here. I’ve done some rides, but most of them have not been particularly noteworthy. The last really good ride I did was back on February 8, when I rode around Huntsville Reservoir. Here is a map of the route

View Larger Map

It was a surprisingly warm day, with highs reaching into the 40s or so, and sunny. There was still a bit of snow on the ground, but I heard it melting around me throughout the ride, dripping persistently.

I started by riding up Bunker Hill Road. This long climb gets more difficult as the winter wears on and I fall further out of shape. It’s slow going for a couple of miles, but the next two miles were downhill. It was invigorating, and would have been thrilling if I hadn’t had to worry so much about traction on the wet, sandy road.

Unfortunately once I hit Sutton Road, I had a couple more miles of climbing to do. The elevation change was nothing like Bunker Hill Road, but it was plenty challenging. I enjoyed some beautiful views of snowy fields and neighboring mountains. I rode through here once before, when I rode to Harvey’s Lake, but it looked much different on this ride, with all the snow.

Sutton Road

Field and mountains

Curving climb

Eventually, I reached some rolling hills, which were a nice break from the sustained climbing, but every time I built up some momentum, the road immediately turned back uphill. It was a little discouraging.

Wet road

From this point, it really didn’t take too long to reach Huntsville Reservoir. I had planned a route around it, and I hoped that the roads circumnavigating the lake would be fairly flat. At first, they were. The lake was still frozen over, except for some surface melting that made for some interesting patterns and reflections as the road skirted the water’s edge.

The dam


Huntsville Reservoir Panorama1
Huntsville Reservoir Panorama

My bicycle

The riding wasn’t easy for long. As I crested the top of a rather large hill, I had a surprise; the pavement ended. Normally, I embrace riding on unpaved roads, but the dirt road was greasy and soft. I prefer not to get the Trucker this dirty, but it handled these conditions with aplomb. I was very impressed.

Dirt road

View at a power line right-of-way

I soon changed my tune. I reached a “Road Not Maintained” sign, and at that point the mud ended and the snow began. The road was just covered in icy/slushy snow. I tried riding on this surface, but I had a difficult time retaining any kind of traction. If it had been flat, it would have been more doable, but I went downhill for a while and then had some climbing to do. I just could not get enough traction, and ended up walking the bike for a while.

Road Not Maintained

It was so quiet and peaceful and beautiful in those woods that I really didn’t mind walking. In fact the scenery was quite nice, with a few glimpses of the lake, and a small stream.

Snowy woods

Traction was very poor

The unmaintained road didn’t last very long; soon, I reached pavement and saw a big climb up ahead. As I approached it I got distracted by some more great views of the lake and lost my momentum. But the climb turned out not to be as bad as it looked.

Big climb

Huntsville Reservoir again

After some rolling hills and even a farm or two (there aren’t many around here), I reached PA Route 118, which was a bit busier than most roads I ride on, but there was a nice wide shoulder and it ended up being quiet pleasant.


PA 118

I followed the side of the lake to complete my trip around it. After a little climbing, I enjoyed a nice, fast (albeit wet) descent toward the town of Huntsville.

Wet descent

In fact, the next 2.5 miles or were almost entirely downhill. It was wonderful to let loose and let gravity do most of the work for a while. I certainly didn’t break any speed records, but I really enjoyed myself. In particular, Huntsville Road between Huntsville and Chase was a fantastic, long, curvy (but not too much), flowing descent. I will definitely have to ride that section again.

Huntsville Road


Once I reached Chase, I knew I had a big climb ahead, up Larksville Mountain. It’s not as long as the Bunker Hill climb, and the elevation gain is a lot less from this side of the mountain, but it is steep for quite some time. Some switchbacks help, but it is brutal any way you look at it. The first time I rode in that area I saw a pickup truck drive up this road and by the time it reached the top, there was smoke pouring out from under the hood. Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting to do too well on this climb, especially this late in the ride, but I did a lot better than I thought I would.

Climbing up Larksville Mountain

Dirt road

Looking back at the undulating road

Looking back at the valley below

Looking back again

The grade eased up, but there was still some more climbing. Soon it turned downhill and then leveled out for a few minutes before plunging some 900 feet back to the Wyoming Valley. I’ve ridden this way a few times and I knew it would be a steep, winding decent. The sand on the road did not instill confidence, but I kept my speed down and all was fine.

Looking toward Wyoming Valley

Almost home

I loved this ride — but next time I head out that way, I want to go to Harvey’s Lake and ride all the way around it. I got some tips about some other dirt roads out in that direction, and I’m looking forward to checking them out.

2 Responses to “Ride around Huntsville Reservoir”

  1. Jon Grinder Says:

    Good to see a post from you. One of these days, I will visit my sister in PA and I will definitely hook up with you for a ride. I love that area, on a bike.

  2. Tim Says:

    Glad you could get out with such a busy schedule. I’m envious b/c yet again you managed to do some “mixed terrain” in your new digs. And as for the climbing, it does give nice views at the top, doesn’t it. have a good one.

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