Photo: Brett Rothmeyer

Quebec Run Wild Area

Pittsburgh Mountain Biking: Quebec Run Wild Area

Ride in solitude in this sparsely used trail system in Forbes State Forest.

Many state forests in Pennsylvania have “wild areas.” These areas are just what they sound like: places set aside to remain wild, with no permanent developments allowed. You’ll find no parks, playgrounds, pools, pavilions, or improved campsites. Wild areas are best known for hiking, dispersed camping, fishing, and hunting, but the trails of Quebec Run are excellent for mountain biking as well. (Unlike federal wilderness areas, Pennsylvania’s state wild areas allow biking.)

Forbes State Forest lies near the West Virginia border and encompasses 50,000 acres. Quebec Run is a 7,500-acre portion of the park on the eastern slope of Chestnut Ridge. Major logging operations were completed here by 1940, and now the forest has healed and is full of maples, pines, rhododendron, and ferns. You might be surprised to learn that the healthy-looking forest is primarily third-growth timber.

This is a legacy trail system; there’s no modern trail work, like berms, to be found here. Even though the trails have been around forever, they have a raw and organic feel, with a sporty serving of rock gardens, roots, streams, and general eastern tech. There are no massive elevation changes, but the trails are rarely flat. 

With upwards of 65 miles of trails, this area which be a tangle of confusing intersections. Plan a route and carry a GPS. Even though you are never far from civilization, cell service can be spotty, and there’s a chance you’ll spend a night in the woods if you get lost. Extra food and a rain shell aren’t a terrible idea no matter the time of year. Hunting is legal here, so keep that in mind during the fall.

Photo: Brett Rothmeyer

Recommended Route

Start at the Grist Mill Trail parking lot. Ride south on Quebec Road for a few hundred yards to enter the trail system on Grist Mill Trail. This connects to Mill Run Trail and a clockwise loop including Brocket, Tebolt, Hess, Rankin, Miller, and Mill Run trails. There is plenty of climbing on this 16-mile loop, but much of it is on dirt roads. 

Getting There

Quebec Run is an hour and a half south of Pittsburgh, almost to the West Virginia border. Route 51 will get you most of the way there on two lanes or take the turnpike and Route 119. 

More info

https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/StateForests/FindAForest/Forbes/Pages/Wild_NaturalAreas.aspx

Where to Eat

Planning on a morning ride? Leave early and stop at the Maywood Grill in Chalk Hill for breakfast. Pack some treats from their famous bakery for the trail. 

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.

MORE STORIES