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Keystone Dreamin': A Road Trip on Pennsylvania Route 6

A mid-summer's day along Pennsylvania's Historic Route 6.

By: Jack Tumen + Save to a List

If I had to guess, I'd say Pennsylvania isn't very high on most travelers' lists of "must-see destinations." Pittsburgh and Philadelphia bookend 46,055 square miles of farmland, state forests and Amish country - none of which anyone's told me they're dying to see. Having went to school in central PA, I understand that. Trust me, it's not the most glamorous place for a twenty-something year old to spend his or her time.

Pennsylvania is, however, a gem of Americana. From auto shows and Victorian homes to classic drive-in theaters, this state promises no views of grandeur and forces you to appreciate the little things. If you look hard enough, you'll find the beauty it has to offer.

Last summer I found myself on a rare mission: I had to drive from northeast PA to Buffalo, NY. I've traversed most of Pennsylvania but had yet to witness its northern half. I had done some reading on Route 6, which meanders east to west near state's northern border. The opportunity for a new adventure was prime.

The nice thing about Route 6 is that it can be accomplished in a day or stretched out over many, depending on what you have time for. I was unprepared to camp out in a state park somewhere, so I made a day trip out of it.

After grabbing breakfast in Honesdale, I hopped on the road and headed west. On spontaneous trips like this, I find it best to travel with no expectations - that way I never leave disappointed. Surely enough, it wasn't long before something peculiar caught my eye. I simply had to snap a photo of this town's welcome sign...

Convincing, no?

The first third of Route 6 (heading west) runs alongside the Susquehanna River, which squiggles its way from Cooperstown, NY to the Chesapeake Bay. An important artery for transportation dating back to Colonial times, the Susquehanna is spotted with numerous historic towns. When I stopped to take in the view of the river, I imagined what it might be like having a life there.

The Endless Mountains; that's what they're called in northeast Pennsylvania. The landscape is nothing but rolling, sprawling hills that ramble on as far as the eye can see. While I appreciate this landscape nowadays, it used to leave me unamused. Growing up at the foot of a 3000' mountain spoiled me in that regard. This stone gazebo made for the perfect lookout point to view the landscape. It was almost as pleasant to look at as it was to look out of.

Once passed Towanda, the Susquehanna breaks off from the road; turning north toward its source in central New York. From there, Route 6 ventures into a section of the state known as the Pennsylvania Wilds. If you're ready to experience the gritty details of northern Appalachia, this is where the journey really begins.

Of all the roadside attractions scattered along the route, the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum stood out to me the most. Located in the dead center of Route 6, It was actually closed when I showed up, but I was able to catch a glimpse of an old structure belonging to this unique exhibit.

On long solo drives like this, it's always important to get out and stretch (just to keep the blood flowing.) Route 6 happens to have its own little rest area somewhere in the middle. While I'm sure you'll get out of the car plenty if you do this trip yourself, it's always nice to see state-funded services to bolster its attractions. Thank you PennDOT for this convenient little respite. 

While I find I stop often to stretch my legs and see some sights, there weren't all that many roadside turnouts to take in views along Route 6. When I stumbled upon one, I made sure to take full advantage of it. However, as I've come to learn on road trips, the best views usually don't offer pullouts; you have to find them yourself. 

Every remote destination has it's unique housing options. I immediately pulled over when I spotted this quaint lakeside cabin.

I mentioned earlier the abundance of historic Victorian homes across the state. I wont leave you hanging without this shot of a spooky one in Coudersport. Addams Family-esque.

Nowadays you see a lot of people planning huge trips to places like Iceland, Thailand and countless other global destinations. Don't get me wrong, those places are awesome - I had the pleasure of studying abroad myself. But when I returned home with a taste of the world in my mouth, I realized I needed to explore more of my own country - my own backyard - before I ventured further into the great beyond. It's an endless pursuit, and one that isn't glamorous either. America is huge, and exploring its nooks and crannies has been both eye-opening and fulfilling. It's the little trips like this one that have changed my definition of "travel" and inspired me to continue digging for the diamonds in the rough, like Pennsylvania's Route 6.

To plan your own trip to Route 6, visit their website http://www.paroute6.com/. I did this trip spur-of-the-moment, so I missed out on a lot of the attractions along the way but looking at the site is making me want to go back and do it all over again.

If you want to see the full collection of photos from this trip, check out http://jacktumen.com/pa-route-....

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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