What’s your favorite PA snowmobile trail? What trail do you ride in your sleep and dream about during the day? Where is it and why is that one trail special? Is it the trail its self or a special ride or person that makes it stand out. If you’re like most sledders this is a really tough question. There’s been so many memorable rides with special people or exceptional conditions and special moments. So pick one.
There’s always been something mythical about the ANF Loop, the Alleghany National Forest and the renown snowmobile trail that loops around it. Before sleds had the reliability, the big gas tanks and got the gas mileage that they do today, completing the ANF loop’s 125 miles in a day was a tough feat. Modern sled technology and the grooming efforts of the 3 or 4 clubs in the area have made the loop a less daunting task. And certainly a much more enjoyable one. But that’s getting a little ahead of the story. Remembering back to the ‘70’s, when Marienville was the capital of snowmobiling in PA and renown throughout the east, the home to PSSA, and the location of some renown sled races, only the hard core sledders and sled wrenchers, made the whole loop. The shear length of the ride, the challenge of fuel, and the harsh winters of the ’70 made completion of the loop a coveted prize.
Today the ANF Loop is still a challenge, particularly if you’re trailering in for the day. But a challenge worth taking for the beauty of the Forest, the wonderful trails and the great trial side amenities that now include gas and some great food stops. And let’s not forget the history that can be found along the trail. New this year is the MJ2KB Trail that allows you to ride your sled in to the Kinzua Bridge State Park and Skywalk. Also new this year is the trail improvements and grooming that Willow Creek SMC is doing just north of the loop toward NY and ASP, Alleghany State Park in NY. A must see and ride is the LongHouse Scenic Byway which is open to only snowmobilers in the winter, be careful not to miss it because it’s not on the main loop trail ANF 1. This is one of my all-time favorite sections of trail. It always seems to have more snow than the surrounding trails and landscape. And they seem to always have it groomed to perfection. This leads to Jakes Rocks and gives incredible views of the Kinzua Reservoir and Dam. Each section of the Loop trail offers special riding experiences as well as some great food. Although there’s many good places to eat on the trail be sure to stop at Cougar Bob’s and get the hamburger. It’s big and made to order so be sure to allow time for this. If you hit it right, Chapman Dam and Marienville both have winter festivals that add to the fun, make it a weekend ride, not just a day. Another virtue of the ANF Loop is that it frequently benefits from Lake Effect Snow that happens early in the season and can pile up quickly. Look for early riding here or riding right after cold spells. The local clubs are real good about reporting conditions on Facebook. The Loop occasionally gets a black eye when logging and oil companies plow roads lower than they should, just heads up for that. But even with today’s sled technology and grooming, completing the ANF Loop is still an very rewarding snowmobile experience. When you say “the Loop”, knowledgeable sledders know what you’re talking about. And there always seems to be a gleam in the eye of a sledder who says, yea, I did the loop last weekend.
Are you willing to share your Favorite Trail? If so, Keystone Snowmobiler would like to hear from you too. Send your story and pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org . Be sure to put Keystone Snowmobiler in the subject line. Share your sledding favorites with your fellow sledders. PA has some great places to ride, let’s hear about them.