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A rider’s guide to Pennsylvania Route 655: The Big Valley

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A rider’s guide to Pennsylvania Route 655: The Big Valley

Pennsylvania Route 655 (PA Route 655) isn’t the kind of highly technical motorcycle road that jumps off the map. But it’s one of the best motorcycle routes in Pennsylvania—a journey back in time to one of the most peaceful places on earth. 

The locals call this place the Big Valley. 

The Big Valley is home to the second-largest Amish population in Pennsylvania, which means you can forget about your modern life and slow down to enjoy the peaceful countryside.

Navigating PA Route 655: The Big Valley

A perfect ride for both novice motorcycle riders and seasoned pros, the Big Valley is a great getaway from hectic urban roads. This gentle two-lane road meanders through beautiful countryside, forests, and historic small towns.

Where does Route 655 start and end in PA?

The southern terminus of PA 655 is the Pennsylvania and Maryland state line—a section of the Mason Dixon Line, the unofficial demarcation between the American north and the south. Route 655 travels north through the Big Valley for 83 miles, ending at a T-intersection with State Route 1005 in Reedsville.

PA Route 655 route map

Our interactive map of PA Route 655 sets the foundation for your Big Valley motorcycle ride. Over the course of these 83 miles, be sure to make additional stops and make the most of your trip.

Weather in the Big Valley

The weather in south-central Pennsylvania can be spectacular—but it can also be unpredictable. As you prepare to hit the road, be sure to pack layers and review the forecast. In the meantime, review the monthly averages for Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, to get a good idea of what to expect throughout the year.

Motorcycle safety tips

Unfortunately, crashes involving motor vehicles and horse-drawn buggies sometimes occur on PA Route 655. Horses can be unpredictable when frightened or agitated. When you ride through the Big Valley, you’re a visitor to an area that operates at a different speed of life. These tips can help keep you—and others on the road—safe:

  • Be alert for wildlife and domestic animals as you travel through forests and farmlands.
  • Exercise great caution when passing buggies and other horse-drawn farm equipment. The sound and appearance of your motorcycle can spook horses, so avoid passing too closely or making sudden movements.
  • Give yourself plenty of following distance. Tourist traffic and drivers distracted by the scenic countryside vistas can slow and stop unexpectedly.

Stops to make along PA Route 655

Amish communities have called the Big Valley home for centuries. Here are some interesting historic attractions you’ll want to check out as you ride PA Route 655.

Needmore

At first glance, Needmore, Pennsylvania (population 170), may not necessarily stand out amongst other idyllic small towns throughout the Big Valley. But if you keep your eyes open as you head northbound out of town, you might glimpse a little piece of history. A white home across the street from the post office started as a Standard Oil domestic-style gas station, which were so named because they looked like small houses with canopies.

This surviving example has a large house attached to the back of the small original gas station building. Back in the early motoring days, Standard Oil stations like this were a common sight along dusty American roads.

Harrisonville

When you come to the stop sign in the little community of Harrisonville, you’ll cross U.S. Route 30—a section of the Lincoln Highway, America’s first transcontinental road. Feel free to make a detour along this historic road before returning to PA Route 655.

Hudson Grist Mill

Built in 1850 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990, the Hudson Grist Mill is located on Old Mill Road, on your left as you pass through the small town of Saltillo. 

What is grist, exactly? When you separate grain from the chaff, you get grist, which is then ground to produce flour. As you’d expect, this made grist mills an important part of early American agricultural communities—the likes of which you’ll see throughout the Big Valley and Pennsylvania as a whole.

Related links

PA Route 655 isn’t Pennsylvania’s only historic route. Riding Route 6 takes you on a winding journey across the entire state, and Route 44—known as the Highway to the Stars—is your gateway to world-class stargazing.

Will you be taking someone with you on your Big Valley adventure? Make sure you do it safely. Review our safety tips for motorcycle passengers and share them with your riding buddy as well.

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