Back in my hometown of Fairmont, WV for a week! I didn’t start riding until I had already moved to Seattle, so I’ve never ridden in my home state. Leave it to my childhood pal Rob to plan an epic trip above and below the Mason-Dixon line. Today we’re riding south to Cheat Mountain then north to Ohiopyle State Park before heading back home.
Cruisers are not usually my forte, but my dad’s friend Randy let me borrow his massive Honda VTX 1800. This baby was loud and fast (and heavy) and was perfect for cruising the mountains of rural West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The VTX 1800 was the largest production V-Twin in history until recently and certainly the largest bike I’ve ever ridden. My Tiger 1050 felt like a bicycle in comparison!
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How about that epic route? Rob planned a really great one, covering mostly unfamiliar ground for me.
Cool Springs, WV
The route took us through the old downtown of Grafton, up and down mountains and through some great switchbacks leading into the roadside curiosity that is Cool Springs Park.
This strange place is a combination restaurant, curiosity shop, petting zoo, general store, and playground. It was a popular roadside attraction when US Route 50 was a more popular road than it is today.
Rob and I both remembered coming here on a school trip when we were younger. Cool Springs has animals, fish to feed, rusty trains and old cars to climb on. All aboard the tetanus train!
If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, surely the fine trinkets inside will do the trick. I bought a little rock of pyrite (fool’s gold) just the same as I bought here as a kid.
After gassing up, it was off to Rowlesburg, WV. Rowlesburg was my paternal grandmother’s place of birth. It looks very different today than it did then, or even 30 years ago when the massive floods of 1985 all but wiped out this little town of 600.
Following the Cheat River northward, we dodged the winter’s potholes all the way up through Albright, past the National Guard Canter at Camp Dawson, through Bruceton Mills and into Pennsylvania.
Ohiopyle State Park
About 50 miles north of Cool Springs is Ohiopyle State Park. Located in the incredible Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania, the centerpiece of the 19,000 acre state park is Ohiopyle Falls on the Youghiogheny River.
Nearby you’ll find Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwater and his not-as-famous Kentuck Knob. I’ve been to both of those, but oddly I have never visited Ohiopyle Falls before today.
Along the road opposite Ohiopyle Falls (State Route 381) you’ll find lots of little shops and adventure companies willing to take you on a rafting trip or let you rent a kayak. There are also some cute general stores and restaurants to serve the tourist trade. Rob and I opted for ice cream.
After this, I didn’t take any photos but the ride home was spectacular. I’ll rely on Google Maps to help me out.
National Pike (Route 40)
Just outside of Ohiopyle, Rt. 40 continues north. Just after a short climb, you’ll be treated to this view of Uniontown and the valleys and mountains for miles beyond. I didn’t expect it to open up like this!
The roads in Pennsylvania were much better maintained than the roads in West Virginia. The difference was even starker once we hit the state border. Smooth roads – state border – potholes everywhere.
Our day ended at the Boston Beanery in Morgantown with a couple of well-deserved post-ride beers.
A solid route, Rob! Until next time!
Visit Ohiopyle State Park
Ohiopyle State Park is open 24/7 with no fees to access its viewpoints and trails. Get a map at a local adventure guide shop or general store – those 19,000 acres can be a little overwhelming! All over the Laurel Highlands there are signs helping drivers navigate to their intended spot. From natural wonders to the two Frank Lloyd Wright homes, you should be able to get around pretty easily.