Favorite Roads for Bicycling in Adams County

by Eric Meyer

Adams County is a beautiful place to live and there are some great country roads that showcase what the county has to offer. While they are enjoyable by car, there’s something special about experiencing the backroads on a bicycle. At bicycling speed, I can take in the landscape – by sight, sound, and even smell – that seems to just blur by when I’m enclosed in a car with the A/C and radio on. And the scenery keeps changing with the calendar, so there’s something new to experience on almost every ride. The days are now getting longer and bike riding season will be here before we know it.

In past articles in this column, some HABPI board members have described their favorite rides. I’m going to describe a few of my favorite roads for experiencing some of what the county has to offer. They are quiet – usually 35 mph or less with light traffic. Unless otherwise noted, they are fairly flat with no serious climbs. Hopefully, you can put together a nice route from your home or a nearby parking area that allows you to enjoy them as I do.  

Horses! There are numerous horse farms in the county and Hoover and Sells Station (close to Hanover) are two good roads to see a few of them – especially in early to mid-May when the foals are born. Racehorse Rd is also lined with great horse farms (including Hanover Shoe Farm) but be prepared for a bit more traffic. Speaking of horses, Swan Lake Stables at School House and Flatbush Roads hosts equestrian show jumping many Saturday mornings in the summer. It’s definitely worth a stop.

Apple blossoms and harvest. Each spring and fall I try to take a ride north of Gettysburg to orchard country to see the trees in bloom or laden with fruit. It’s pretty hilly so be prepared for a good work out. Some of the best roads to ride through orchards include Quaker Valley, Orchard Lane (duh), Wenksville, and Middle Roads.

Flat out fun. Barlow and California Roads (located between Gettysburg and Littlestown) are long, flat roads that slice through farm fields with a number of s-turns. With a little tailwind, this is as close to flying as I get peddling on two wheels. Nice scenery with an occasional glimpse of the mountains to the west adds to the enjoyment. Barlow and California meet at Route 97. With good line-of-sight in both directions, this is a good place for crossing Route 97.  

Battlefield and Eisenhower Farm. With low speed limits, most of the battlefield roads are very enjoyable – especially if traveled when tourism traffic is low. The battlefield, of course, provides a solemn, yet inspiring, landscape to reflect upon as you roll by. My favorite road through the Park is West Confederate from the Armory to Emmitsburg. I love riding through McMillan, Spangler, and Pitzer Woods with cannons flanking the left side and views over fields that once saw Pickett’s Charge. Further on, Big and Little Round Top rise into view. Upon reaching Emmitsburg Road, I turn right and then immediately right into the Eisenhower Farm. The Farm is currently open to bike travel and the entrance provides one of the best views in the area. The Farm road exits onto Millerstown Rd for further riding.    

There are many other sights and many other roads out there. I hope you enjoy exploring them as much as I do.  

Eric Meyer is vice president of HABPI. He and his wife, Betsy, have been exploring the backroads of Adams County on bicycle for the past 12 years.