NYC Route Scouting – Homestead to Loretto

So then, Reddan used his amazing networking skillz to assembly a motley crew of randoesque folk to partake in a leisurely Sunday ramble amongst sylvan dale and babbling brook.  Ok, enough vocabulary for now…

Yeah, we wanted to scout the first 100 miles or so of the NYC route.  So, we devised an out and back starting in Homestead (at the site of one of organized labor’s bloodiest battles in U.S. history) and turning around in Cresson  (located at the top of the first railroad to breach the Allegheny front) and heading back.  Full route being a solid 300K.

There were seven starters, and four finishers of the full route (Chris, Steph, Jim, and Bill).  Three of us (Reddan, Sarah P., and meeself) decided to turn around at mile 70 and make a ‘short’ day of it.

Seeing as this route was totally untested from about mile 10 onwards, we all had no idea what to expect.  Some significant observations were made:

1.  The West Penn trail is an actual TRAIL with garlic in it’s soul, not a stevia sweetened low calorie rail trail bon bon.

2.  The West Penn trail gets confusing at one critical point not far from the Conemaugh Dam, and it’s easy to be lured into bushwacking.  Not that we would actually do that, you see.

3.  Hey, this is a great route.  All of the roads intended for the one way NYC route are keepers.

4.  If we can eliminate a little Ghost Town Trail for some roads, that might not be a bad thing.  But not totally necessary either in the context of a one way ride.

5.  Dillweed is a place, and they have a nice country store there.

6.  Sarah is a tough lady.  After wiping out in the soft shoulder of the GTT whilst trying to pass a lady on a motorized trike with dog-holding sidecar (not joking) she merrily mended her wounds with baby wipes, neosporin, and duct tape and continued to ride another 70 something miles without complaint.  Then she worked a 13 hour day starting the next morning.

Anyhoo, the routes were..



Early Morning Roll Out in the Pgh Burbs.  Photo by Reddan

Dan futzing with his brakes.

Me, futzing with MY brakes.  Photo by Reddan

Cruising along the watershed near Slickville

Interesting trestle on the West Penn Trail (at this location it takes the form of a road)

Our heroes, emerging from the forest shadows….

Dan and Sarah after the navigational funk

Dan, looking for insectious nutrition

Nice country near Blairsville


The Ghost Town Trail is a great crushed limestone rail trail, if you’re into that sort of thing. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Photo by Reddan

Chillin’ in Dillhole…err, I mean Dillweed.  Photo by Reddan

The Stick, The P-38 (Stillers style), and The Sparkly Straggler at Sheetz. Photo by Reddan

Rest of the pics I took are here:

Reddan’s Pics:



About rothrockcyrcle

I am an endurance cyclist always looking for new ways to maximize fun and minimize BS.
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4 Responses to NYC Route Scouting – Homestead to Loretto

  1. Dan says:

    Very nice. Not to take anything from the randoesqueivity (borrowed word ;)) you’ve reignited my interest in Homestead. And you have me wondering about Dillhole. What?!!!

  2. Dillhole is an unkind way to describe the fine hamlet of Dillweed. A person of my particular generation will (might) find humor (or at least some level of meaning) in the term dillhole. We were of an impressionable age when Beavis and Butthead was on television. Somehow most of us turned out ok.

  3. SRU Ed Tech says:

    I did my first marathon on the Ghost Town trail back in November 2012 with the Indiana PA Runner’s Club…Saylor Park to Dilltown and back. Slightly boring, but pleasant. Yeah, on the way out I was convinced that Jim’s GPS had lost its mind on the West Penn Trail and was routing us way off course. On the way back it was actually kind of fun.

  4. The W Penn Trail is very well marked except at that one intersection where the chain was strung across the trail, and there were three paths to choose. One marked “1”, one marked “2”, and the third unmarked option (which ended up being the correct one). Dan, Sarah, and I chose “1”, and we found ourselves doing some significant hike-a-bike. Hoisting a 6 foot long, 40 lb recumbent over a wet pile of logs 4 feet tall is ‘fun’.

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