A drive across Pennsylvania from Erie to Raystown Lake takes us to Presque Isle State Park, Trough Creek State Park, Lincoln Caverns, and other scenic sites.

Erie to Raystown Lake Region - Erie to the Raystown Lake Region: A Drive Across Pennsylvania

I was a guest of Visit Erie and HCVB, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

A Drive Across Pennsylvania

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In Pennsylvania, I first learned a term to describe myself I had never heard before.

I was in conversation with a local who was inquiring about my job as a travel writer. I explained to him that I was a roadtripper and that my website was called Backroad Planet because I prefer scenic routes to major highways.

He said, “Oh, then you're a shunpiker.”

Having never heard this term before, I asked him to elaborate.

He explained that shunpiking was the act of shunning, or avoiding, turnpikes.

With a bit of research, I learned that the term originated years ago with drivers determined to avoid toll roads. Today, the definition is a bit more broad, including travelers who prefer taking scenic backroads, as well.

I had to admit I was truly a shunpiker at heart, and I was about to prove it on a drive across Pennsylvania.

Erie, Pennsylvania

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My colleague, Melody Pittman from Wherever I May Roam, and I flew into Erie to join a small group of travel writer friends on a 36-hour whirlwind tour of this city on the Great Lake that shares its name.

I wrote about our experiences in the article Presque Isle State Park & Other Things to Do in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Readers and travel planners can read the full post or navigate to sections of interest from the list below:

Presque Isle State Park

Tom Ridge Environmental Center

A Driving Tour through Presque Isle State Park

Commodore Perry Monument

Horseshoe Pond Houseboats

North Pier Light

Escape Game Erie

Mazza Chatauqua Cellars

The Great Lakes Seaway Trail

Sara’s Diner

Molly Brannigan’s Irish Pub

Dave’s Diner

A Drive Across Pennsylvania

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At the end of our time in Erie, we rented a car for the 4-hour drive to the Raystown Lake Region. We could have opted for a quicker ride on interstate highways, but true to our nature, we chose the scenic route.

Although Melody and I travel together frequently, this would be our first real road trip. Melody volunteered to drive, I slipped into my comfortable role as navigator, and with a “yacht rock” playlist blaring, we set off on our drive across Pennsylvania.

The Allegheny National Forest

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The Allegheny National Forest covers more than 800 sq. miles of Pennsylvania. Even though the forest has been lumbered, and fossil fuel deposits are currently extracted, Pennsylvania's only national forest maintains its role as a “land of many uses,” including camping, hiking, fishing, and other recreational activities.

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Many state and federal roads criss-cross the national forest, including PA Route 666.

This route marker triggered a memory of the time I had traveled a segment of Arizona's Route 666, also known as The Devil's Highway.

But there was nothing to fear. Both drives were lovely and ended well.

Ridgway, Pennsylvania

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We stopped briefly for lunch in the borough of Ridgway, a picturesque town that is also the seat of Elk County.

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This historic town is considered the gateway to the Allegheny Forest and is home to the Chainsaw Carvers Rendezvous, the largest event of its kind.

Raystown Lake Region, Pennsylvania

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Our drive across Pennsylvania ended in what I consider to be one of the state's best kept secrets. We spent a couple of days exploring the area, and I wrote about it in our post Discover Raystown Lake & Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.

This off-the-beaten path hidden treasure is a region filled with scenic and recreational opportunities. If you are planning a Pennsylvania road trip itinerary, you don't want to overlook the Raystown Lake Region.

As before, feel free to enjoy the post in its entirety or navigate to an area of interest listed below:

Raystown Lake & Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania

Raystown Lake

Historical Downtown Huntingdon

Trough Creek State Park

Isett Heritage Museum

Lincoln Caverns

Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau

Spring Flowers

Bear’s Paw Lodge

Stone Town Café & Gallery

Marina Café at Lake Raystown Resort

Standing Stone Coffee Company

Top’s Diner

The Riverside Grill at Edgewater Inn

Planning Note

The two posts linked in this round-up contain a wealth of resources for readers considering a visit to Erie or the Raystown Lake Region of Pennsylvania.

The route we took between the two was a scenic drive through the Allegheny National Forest and small-town Pennsylvania.

When planning a road trip itinerary, be sure to explore all of your options, whether you follow our exact route, explore either of the two destinations, or design a unique itinerary to specific sites within the key destinations.

Map It!

We Would Love to Hear From You

We enjoy dialogue with our readers, especially when they share off-the-beaten-path destinations and useful travel tips. Have you ever driven across Pennsylvania? If so, we would love to hear about your experience. We invite you to leave your comments and questions below, and we always respond!

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Erie to Raystown Lake Region 2 - Erie to the Raystown Lake Region: A Drive Across Pennsylvania

Helpful Links

Presque Isle State Park & Other Things to Do in Erie, Pennsylvania

The Allegheny National Forest

Discover Raystown Lake & Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania

How to Find Unique Sites for Your USA Road Trip Itinerary


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Howard Blount is founder and editor of the travel web site Backroad Planet. He has traveled internationally since boyhood and lived abroad in Mexico, Chile, and Paraguay. Now his passion is navigating the roads-less-traveled of this amazing planet in search of anything rare and remote. On the stuffy side, “Mr. Blount” has been a writer, consultant, and published author with the likes of Simon & Schuster and McGraw-Hill. Recently retired from a 35-year career as a middle school teacher, Howard enjoys spending his time on anything that includes mountains, waterfalls, dachshunds, gospel choirs, books, restored classic movies on Blu-ray, HDTV, autumn, sandhill cranes, hot springs, Florida springs, rain and other gloomy weather, log cabins, cracker shacks, abandoned sites, unearthed history, genealogy, museums, documentaries, To Kill a Mockingbird, scenic and historical sites, castles, cathedrals, the Civil War, cold sheets, National and State Park Passports, quotes, the Rambos, Dionne Warwick, Steely Dan, Doobies, Diet Pepsi, Fish City Grill, anything Apple, all things British, Jesus, and lists. And on a random note, Howard is a fourth cousin once removed to Truman Capote.