Abandoned PA Turnpike Tunnel Ride Planning Thread

JedidiahStolzfus

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Lancaster, PA
Anyone interested in a ride of the abandoned PA Turnpike tunnels in spring? The weather is starting to get bad here now for such a ride, PA is getting snow right now, but the spring time this could be a lot of fun.

There are 3 tunnels in about a 10.5mile path that can be accessed at various point. On the eastern side, you can park on the west bound side of the TP and ride up the old TP path to the tunnels. On the western side, they can be accessed right outside of breezewood, but there's a steep hill right off the start from what I'm reading.

It appears that all the tunnels can be ridden through, but we'd have to go slow to watch out for hazards. Bright lights would be a requirement.

This page has a lot of information about them and some nice pictures: https://uncoveringpa.com/abandoned-pa-turnpike

Here's the route, you can use google earth to look into the area in more detail, just search for Sidling Hill Plaza or Breezewood
Ge6f1y.png


Most people don't even know these tunnels exist. Anyone up for a ride in spring? I live a little more than 2 hours from the eastern side, but I'd have to get off at Breezewood and loop back to that point. That might be the best point to meet depending on how many would want to go because there's lots of parking there, and it's limited access. Vehicles can be pretty much hidden from the road too.
 

JedidiahStolzfus

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Lancaster, PA
The scene outside of the tunnel was filmed at the Rays Hill Tunnel in Bedford County, PA; part of a 13-mile stretch of what is called the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike. The tunnel was originally built in the 1880s to serve as a railroad tunnel but was never used. In the 1930s, the tunnel was repurposed to become part of the new Pennsylvania Turnpike system. In the 1960s, a 13-mile stretch of the turnpike was re-routed to relieve traffic congestion and this original part, which included two tunnels, was simply abandoned.

Come and see the place where Viggo Mortensen wanders around with a short person while being attacked by evil.
 

Viking1

Member
Region
USA
City
RV Living FullTime. Home is where we park it.
I am not too far from there and would be interested. I probably won’t be back in that area again until July though. I am going to RV training academy to become a certified RV service technician in the spring in Texas and won’t be back until then.
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Northeast Pennsylvania
I've ridden the abandoned tunnels at least a dozen times with my brother over the last 10 years. It is indeed a unique place and I would definitely be interested in a spring ride.

Here are some pics from previous rides:
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P1060979a.jpg


P1060975a.jpg
P1060976a.jpg


P1060986a.jpg


Parking on either end is not convenient. The western Breezewood end has a steep bank which requires you to drag the bike about 200' uphill. The eastern end is difficult to find since it is accessed off a private driveway. Both locations have limited space and won't accommodate many vehicles

The best place to park is midway between the Ray's Hill and Sideling Hill tunnels off Oregon road. It is a large DCNR game land parking lot at the same elevation as the trail, connected by an easy 50' packed dirt path. I can provide specific directions and GPS coordinates if anyone is interested.

The trail is the old abandoned roadbed of the PA Turnpike and is strewn with debris. Switching back and forth between the eastbound and westbound lanes is necessary. Flats are a distinct possibility so be prepared.

Be aware that vandals sometimes boobytrap the tunnels with broken glass, tacks, nails, pieces of pipe etc. Hence all the graffiti. The DCNR occasionally patrols the tunnels and clears the debris but not that often. A good light is absolutely essential.

The last time I was there 2 years ago, the eastern 1 mile section between SR4007 and the turnpike was closed.
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
I believe only 2 tunnels can be accessed. Laurel Hill Tunnel is leased by a racecar engineering firm for testing.

Screenshot_20221116-102328_Chrome.jpg



I'd be up for a spring ride.
 

JedidiahStolzfus

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Lancaster, PA
I've ridden the abandoned tunnels at least a dozen times with my brother over the last 10 years. It is indeed a unique place and I would definitely be interested in a spring ride.

Here are some pics from previous rides:
View attachment 140308 View attachment 140311

View attachment 140309 View attachment 140310

View attachment 140312

Parking on either end is not convenient. The western Breezewood end has a steep bank which requires you to drag the bike about 200' uphill. The eastern end is difficult to find since it is accessed off a private driveway. Both locations have limited space and won't accommodate many vehicles

The best place to park is midway between the Ray's Hill and Sideling Hill tunnels off Oregon road. It is a large DCNR game land parking lot at the same elevation as the trail, connected by an easy 50' packed dirt path. I can provide specific directions and GPS coordinates if anyone is interested.

The trail is the old abandoned roadbed of the PA Turnpike and is strewn with debris. Switching back and forth between the eastbound and westbound lanes is necessary. Flats are a distinct possibility so be prepared.

Be aware that vandals sometimes boobytrap the tunnels with broken glass, tacks, nails, pieces of pipe etc. Hence all the graffiti. The DCNR occasionally patrols the tunnels and clears the debris but not that often. A good light is absolutely essential.

The last time I was there 2 years ago, the eastern 1 mile section between SR4007 and the turnpike was closed.
I'll defer to your knowledge of the area. And it appears in the post after this one we can't go through the Laurel Hill tunnel.
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Northeast Pennsylvania
I'll defer to your knowledge of the area. And it appears in the post after this one we can't go through the Laurel Hill tunnel.
As J.R. says, the Laurel Hill Tunnel is on the other side of the active turnpike and is not connected to the Pike to Bike Trail at this point.
 

JedidiahStolzfus

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Lancaster, PA
As J.R. says, the Laurel Hill Tunnel is on the other side of the active turnpike and is not connected to the Pike to Bike Trail at this point.
Ahh. I missed that. I've been wanting to go through them since I first heard about them a few years ago, but I'd never go up there alone, and my family isn't ready for such a trip yet.

The booby trap thing is a concern, but I think if we have a enough bikes with bright lights and go through slow we should be able to see anything coming up. I wouldn't want to zip through the tunnels anyway, I'd rather have a nice leisurely ride. Maybe we should carry a small broom in case there is debris like that in the tunnels.

I had intended to carry an extra tube and tire with me and my daypack. No reason to not carry a lunch with us.
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Northeast Pennsylvania
Ahh. I missed that. I've been wanting to go through them since I first heard about them a few years ago, but I'd never go up there alone, and my family isn't ready for such a trip yet.

The booby trap thing is a concern, but I think if we have a enough bikes with bright lights and go through slow we should be able to see anything coming up. I wouldn't want to zip through the tunnels anyway, I'd rather have a nice leisurely ride. Maybe we should carry a small broom in case there is debris like that in the tunnels.

I had intended to carry an extra tube and tire with me and my daypack. No reason to not carry a lunch with us.
In the dozen or so times I've been there, I've only seen this sort of vandalism twice. It's something to be aware of but not a reason to avoid the place.

It's also a good idea to carry a backup light. The tunnels are long and you could be in the dark for some time.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
I think I've been through them in a bus in 1980. Don't like the access only by car barrier. I don't drive a car anymore. Been thinking of accessing many PA bike trails from Pittsburg & DC Amtrak stations.
I've been through abandoned rail tunnels on C&O (Cabin Creek to Big Coal river valley WV) and Western Maryland near Paw Paw WV. Was walking WM right of way in 1980, didn't have a flashlight, chickened out at 300' in because I couldn't see any possible snakes. Lots of copperheads in Appalachian mountains.
 

sc00ter

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Norfolk, VA
Oh my this looks fun! I lived in Philipsburg PA but was always working (18 wheeler) and never got to do anything fun. But I'm now back in Norfolk, VA at a normal job. I'd be super down with this though! I'll keep checking in for a proposed date and time window.
 

JedidiahStolzfus

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Lancaster, PA
Oh my this looks fun! I lived in Philipsburg PA but was always working (18 wheeler) and never got to do anything fun. But I'm now back in Norfolk, VA at a normal job. I'd be super down with this though! I'll keep checking in for a proposed date and time window.
Norfolk? You ok with a 6+hour drive?
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Oh my this looks fun! I lived in Philipsburg PA but was always working (18 wheeler) and never got to do anything fun. But I'm now back in Norfolk, VA at a normal job. I'd be super down with this though! I'll keep checking in for a proposed date and time window.
Spent a good bit of my youth on the other side of the creek outside Cape Charles. They are working on a 50 mile Eastern Shore Rail Trail there.



Kind of expensive toll to get there for a bike ride, but the shore has good roads to ride on and no hills anywhere. Kiptopeake is a good place for a swim in summer.
 

sc00ter

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Norfolk, VA
Oh yeah! My wife and I drive further than that for punk rock/hardcore shows with only 100 drunks in attendance. But instead of turn and burns we'll get a room and catch some sleep. I'll keep watching this thread. I LOVE abandoned places!
My favorite is the Proper People on YouTube. Class act from those guys.
 

JedidiahStolzfus

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Lancaster, PA
Oh yeah! My wife and I drive further than that for punk rock/hardcore shows with only 100 drunks in attendance. But instead of turn and burns we'll get a room and catch some sleep. I'll keep watching this thread. I LOVE abandoned places!
My favorite is the Proper People on YouTube. Class act from those guys.
I don't know if you know anything about Breezewood, but it's basically the city of hotels. You should be able to find a room there.
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Northeast Pennsylvania
I don't know if you know anything about Breezewood, but it's basically the city of hotels. You should be able to find a room there.
When I ride the Pike to Bike Trail, I usually stay a few days in Cumberland MD. It's around a 45 minute drive from Breezewood via US 220 and US 30. Cumberland is convenient to the GAP, C&O and Western Maryland Rail Trails as well. If you're a tunnel fan like I am, there are three on the GAP trail within an easy ride from Cumberland, including the 3291' Big Savage Tunnel. There is also the 3118' Paw Paw Tunnel on the C&O Canal Trail.

If you're only doing a one night stay, as Jedidiah says, there are several good hotels in Breezewood.
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Northeast Pennsylvania
Who's gonna pack ammunition, spares etc.
Night vision ensemble. Guided tour?
You joke, but the place is so spooky, I actually carried a handgun the first couple of times I was there alone. No need really, once you know the place.

At least one LBS in the area used to sponsor guided bike tours of the tunnels but I'm not sure they still do.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
I go out with a NIJ class 3A vest and sabre pepper spray. If a scooter rider slapped my back at 30 mph (which has happened) it would hurt him more than me. Have used spray on a pack of dogs.
In hunting season out of town there could be random spent rounds. In Louisville yesterday two perps sprayed at each other with uzis on a street I sometimes ride my bicycle to shop on. 2 injured; no knowledge of whether they were firing or not.
Saving up for class 4 plates. Four mass shootings in groceries recently. Buffalo NY, Collierville, TN, Louisville, KY, El Paso, TX.
 
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