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Pa Trail Ride

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This is my first ride report and I took the photos with a throw away camera so beware. My Brother-in-Law Scott and I decided to meet on our day off and go for a spin. Scott thought it would be kinda cool to go back to where we used to ride as kids. Neither of us had ridden in the area for 20 years or so. We met in an area close to where the Allegheny and Clarion rivers meet. We started out with one Yellow bike and one Blue bike. The yellow bike is my 2000 DRZ400E with a Baja Designs kit. His blue bike is a brand spanking new YZ250F with a home-made dual-sport kit on it.

It was a nice fall day. But one of those days where I just can't get comfortable. Too chilly standing around or riding on the road, but too warm once you're on the trails. We immediately hit an old trail I used to ride years ago. It's just about as I remember it. Grown up in some places now and changed in those places that were too tight for ATVs to get thru. But still pretty much as I remember it. A short distance down the trail and we encountered a tree down across the trail. A huge tree. Couldn't go under or over it and the hillside to our right was just too steep to get up. There was a deer trail down over the hillside to our left.

DeertrailalongTroutRun.jpg

It's a steep hillside, but the deer had been traveling down it at a diagonal, so it's not as bad as it could have been. I make it down to the bottom and stop just as my front tire stops in a small stream. I looked back to make sure Scott is coming along and kinda lost my balance. When I tried to put my right foot down, there wasn't anything under it, so over I went. Always one to hang onto the handlebars, I managed to get myself rolled over and into the creek on my back. So much for a dry ride! Scott makes it down and we worked our way onto a set of old railroad tracks that run along the Allegheny River. A mile or so later, we climbed an old roadway that I remember being made years ago as part of a sand and gravel operation. The only thing left of the road is the ATV trail that goes up it so we followed it. We jumped on a township road a short time later. It goes into an area known as Buttermilk Falls. Buttermilk Falls is near a small Pa village called Dutch Hill. Across the Township road from the Falls is another ATV trail so we jumped on that and headed into an area known as Pickard Valley. I'd purposely included that area as part of the ride. There is an area called the Slate Dumps there and every bike I've ever owned has made the trip to the Slate Dumps. It's always been part of an initiation and a test of the bikes. In years past, anyone familiar with that area who wanted see just how good their bike was would ride off of the NW slope of the Dumps and if their bike could climb back out of the woods onto the top of the slate Dump, then the bike was worth keeping. I've only had 3 bikes that made it. A 1977 Husqvarna CR250. A 1985 KX500 and a 1987 Husqvarna CR250. In years past, I'd never seen another bike make the climp back to the top. Maybe in this day and age with bikes being as good as they are it's no big deal. But I looked down off that slope and it looked steeper than it ever did ! At the bottom of the Slate Dumps it was always muddy and very soft. The run back to the Slate Dump was only about 30 ft long. Then, of course, the Slate Dump is very steep and loose. The DRZ was about to be put to the test......

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Well Neil, I'd like to know that too. I've put photos up before without any trouble. I stopped the report just so I could see if I was going to have any problems. .......

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When I rode out to the NW corner of the slope, I stopped to have a look down over. Just as I remembered, there were some pretty nasty ruts caused by rain as it washed down the slope. The rain also washed slate and other dirt down the slope and left it right at the bottom, where it would make things very soft and muddy. And, the Slate Dump just kinda runs off into the trees and you can't see what's down there. Scott is one of the most fearless guys on a bike I've ever ridden with. I was a bit shocked when he pulled up beside me and I heard him say holy crap! Are we going down that? Well, that's as good as any 'double dog dare' so down we went. To my suprise, the surface was harder than it used to be. When I was a kid, applying the back brake in this Slate would cause your rear tire to dig a 4 inch rut, and you could creep down over at trials bike speeds. You could use the front brake to the point of a 'stoppie' and even if you did over do it and flip, the surface was soft to land in. Well, not that day. It was a slippery dust type dirt on top of something close to hard pack. Throw in some ruts and a runoff area that we couldn't see, and it got real interesting. At the bottom, where it used to be soft and usually muddy, we found that ATVs had packed the dirt. So now instead of having some mud and soft ground help slow us down, we went charging off the slope and hit the woods at fairly high speed! You always did have to be on your game when you hit the bottom because the run-off was tucked back under the tree canopy and couldn't been seen. We never knew what might be lying on or across the trail. But back then, it didn't matter, because we we able to slow down and stop far easier! Anyway, we made it down and did get stopped in the nick of time and noticed that instead of the old 30 ft or so of run back to the slope, there was probably about 50 ft now. In the old days, there was no time for a shift from 1st to 2nd, so we'd start out in second. Now, I thought I'd be able to use first and shift into second just as I made contact with the slope.

ScottandBlueattheSlateDumps.jpg

These photos my give you an idea of what I'm talking about

Well, I was actually amazed at how easily the DRZ went up that hill. And Scott's YZ climbed it with ease also. I'd told him about how we used to think that a bike was a keeper if it could climb out of the woods back to the top, so for now, they're both keepers!

ItsaKeeper.jpg

We played a little on the Slate DumpsScottandtheYZ.jpg

JeffandTheRascal.jpgDescendingintotheSlateDump.jpg

ScottandOldBlue-steeperthanitlooks.jpg

It's too bad that the photos don't show just how steep those hills are. Anyway, we left the slate dumps and hit some local logging roads that took us in the direction of West Monterey. We stopped short and rode thru the village of Dutch Hill and back into Pickard Valley. We then went onto the West Freedom area and after catching some trails there, headed into Pine Hollow. Things had changed there, and old familiar trails were gone, so we rode an old township road into the 'Grass Flats' area, and worked our way out into the Clarion River valley. We found what we thought may be an old narrow gauge railroad track bed and rode it down to the Allegheny River again. Riding along the river, we came across a large tree that had fallen across the old RR bed. We made our way around it and a short distance further found where someone had started a dump right on the the old RR bed. The dump had a bunch of old junk with glass and wood with nails, but we didn't want to fight our way around the tree we'd just gone around, so we took our chances and rode over the dump. We attempted to follow the old RR but came to a gate across it. That meant doing some backtracking, and since we'd had a time getting around a large downed tree and would have to ride back thru the dump, we rode into an area known by the locals as the 'limeplant' to try and work our way back to our trailers. Fighting our way back up over the mountainside that forms the Allegheny River valley without a trail to follow caused my DRZ to overheat. I took advantage of the down time to hike out ahead and scout a way out of where we were. A few hundred yards from where we had stopped, I located the same trail we had traveled before hooking onto the old narrow gauge RR. We traveled some old trails into the 'Limeplant' area and then jumped onto a township road and in about 2 miles were back at our trailers. Back at the trailers, Scott looked down, and noticed that my rear tire was flat.......

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Here is another try at the photos that didn't come up.

ScottandBlueattheSlateDumps.jpg

ScottandtheBlueBikegoingdown.jpg

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Nice report and pix.

Where in PA do you live?

Also, roughly where in the state do the rivers meet that you described?

:applause:

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I live Franklin, PA. The Clarion River dumps into the Allegheny between Parker and Foxburg. That's about 30 miles south of Frankln and about 60 miles north of Pittsburgh. It's about 5 miles south of I-80.

Thanks to everyone for the positive comments. It was a good ride. We've got some snow now and chilly weather, so I'm glad we got it done when we did. I remember thinking after the ride that the DRZ may be a better bike than I ever thought it would be....

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We have old slag piles and sand pits up in Susquehanna Co. as well.. They are like a play ground for Dirt bikes.. I love riding with guys that do nothing but road and trail ride and come into a old quarry and rip right up the face of an old sand pit.. They always stop and think twice if they have never done it before.. It makes me smile every time!! Nice report!!

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