Location: Oil Creek State Park – Titusville, Pennsylvania 16354
Distance from That Was Exciting Office: Erie P.A.: 41 miles / 58 minutes
Total distance: 38.3 km / 23.8 miles
Total Time: 7 hours 42 min. (including exploring and breaks)
Height gain: 2,703m / 8868 feet
Height loss: 2,671m / 8763 feet
Max height of terrain: 501m / 1643 feet
Min. height of terrain: 328m / 1076 feet
Starting Temp: – 6c / 21f
Riders: Sean and Adam
Oil Creek State Park is 6,250 acres waiting for you to explore. The park is next to Drake’s Well Museum. The site of the first successful commercial oil well. It follows Oil Creek between Titusville and Oil City. Some attractions there include hiking trails, biking, running, skiing and water activities. When the weather is nice, you can enjoy canoeing and fishing. If you keep your eyes open and look around, evidence of the first oil boom towns are all around. You can learn more about the area’s history at the Drake’s Well museum; this should be your first stop. On the day of our ride, the museum areas where closed. It has been quite a few years since I’ve been to the museum. I’ll be putting it on the list of coming adventures so look for a post and review when the weather gets nicer.
Knowing that we wanted time to explore, we started our ride out early and freed up a whole day for this adventure. Hearing reports all week that temperatures where going to climb up into the mid 40’s had us excited and looking forward to this January ride. On Friday morning, we loaded up our gear and we were off. Only a hour drive from Erie made for lots of time to bike. Hopping out of the truck that morning was refreshing to say the least with the thermometer reading only 21 degrees! That made for the ongoing joke of the day…….. “is it 43 degrees yet??
When out on winter adventures prepare for changing temperatures, even if it’s not being reported. Add some items to your pack that will make you comfortable in these condition (e.g. full fingered gloves and an extra pack-able layer of warmth). The right gear can make your adventures more enjoyable. Also, proper gear could be the difference between having a safe trip or a dangerous one.
The trail we rode is narrow and is not set up the best for biking. There are a lot of tight spots, narrow bridges and even areas that have rough stairs. For an experienced rider, the trail is enjoyable. There are only a few sections that you’re going to be pushing or carrying your bike. If you’re only a beginner the Titusville rails-to-trails is the place to start. With over 9 miles of well-maintained paved trail it is easy for everyone.
We only crossed the rails to trails once on our ride. We did see it again later in the day when we took a snack break where both trails came together. The picnic area had a few tables and nice little restroom. A cool stone bridge, where the rails-to-trails crosses a stream, gives the area a neat and rustic feel. We had planned on riding the paved path back to our starting location, but after taking a wrong turn, we ended up taking the long way back.
On the trail, you’ll notice a few overlooks and areas to rest with benches. These are perfect spots to check out the scenery and some spectacular views. The woods seemed mature with lots of big trees and signs of wildlife.
Oil Creek State Park
On your ride you’ll notice structures, metal pipes, and little buildings. All these things are relics from the past oil boom. Some of the neatest spots are where giant rock formations stick up out of nowhere. One area in particular stands out, with rock walls stretching up over twenty feet above the forest floor. If you like to hike or want a more challenging bike ride check it out. Overall this was a great trip and will be worth revisiting during a different season.
Now the not so enjoyable part…..
Once again, taking a wrong turn was about to change our day. Exhausted and super hungry, we now find our self’s walking up one of the steepest hills. After climbing 2/3 of the way to the top, the beep-beep-beep, of my cell phone battery dying came from my pack. A few yards up the hill, we came upon a bench and overlook area. We stopped so I could use my reserve power pack to give my phone a charge. This turned out to be fortunate for us. After a quick look at the GPS, I noticed we are headed in the wrong direction. Here we go again, running low on daylight and it starting to rain. We made our way out onto some roads. The temperature was dropping fast. Serious thoughts of hypothermia crossed our minds. When you are soaking wet, in the dark, with temperatures in the 30’s things begin pop into your head. We had 13 miles of bad conditions to fight through to get to dry cloths and a warm truck. Needless to say, we survived another great adventure.
Sean’s Tip – After further research I have discovered some of the trails shown are off limits to biking. Any trails marked hiking have these limitations. There was only one small section on their website talking about mountain biking and being new to this area of trails from where we started out there wasn’t any good signage saying where you could or couldn’t ride. Hopefully things are marked better in the future. Remember to always respect the trails and follow the guidelines.
Oil Creek State Park
202 Museum Ln, Titusville, PA 16354
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