With its roots dating back to the mid-’90s, the Tour de Shunk Gravel is not just a test of physical prowess but a symbol of community spirit. Conceived by a group of local cycling aficionados, the event has metamorphosed over the decades from linking local favorite routes to a full-blown race that has donated over $110,000 to charities since its inception. The event is now organized by Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Twin Tiers and traditionally a road cycling event, the Tour de Shunk Road expanded into gravel cycling in recent years which was welcomed with enthusiastic participation, so much so that it has it’s own registration! As a gravel cycling enthusiast, the lure of the Tour de Shunk Gravel’s diverse routes, set against the backdrop of NE Pennsylvania’s picturesque landscape, is irresistible and as such, it’s considered to be one of the Best Gravel Events in the Mid-Atlantic for 2023, as rated by Strambecco.
Event & Course Info
The 2023 Tour de Shunk Gravel promises a mixed surface, off-road adventure for both gravel aficionados and road cyclists. All rides have staged starts planned between 8-10 AM from Monroeton, PA. While the Tour De Shunk is a celebration of cycling, it’s essential to remember the challenging nature of the routes and train adequately.
The three gravel courses offered include a 74-mile, 51-mile, and 10-mile Intro Route. The 74-mile course kicks off at 9:00 AM, and riders can anticipate a route that meanders through State Game Lands and State Forest. Climbing the Schrader Creek dirt road, cyclists will take a loop into the Loyalsock State Forest after a rest stop at Shunk. The ride concludes with a descent through Gamelands, promising a balance of challenge and scenic beauty with over 6,100 ft of climbing.
The 51-mile option starts a half an hour later at 9:30 AM, and the route follows the 74-mile path but cuts out the extra loop into Loyalsock State Forest, presenting a slightly gentler challenge with only 3,800 feet of climbing. Designed for younger riders and adults, the Intro-to-Gravel Ride, a 10-mile course, starts from Shunk at 11:00 AM, and is a perfect initiation into the world of gravel cycling.
Regardless of the route chosen at Tour de Shunk Gravel, cyclists can expect well-placed aid stations, mechanical or SAG support, and the much-anticipated post-ride spaghetti dinner to recharge. After the exhaustive ride, the Fireflies Massage Team will be available to soothe those stressed muscles. All proceeds from the Tour De Shunk will be donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Twin Tiers, making every mile ridden count for a noble cause.
Area Accommodations & Things to Do
While there is no official lodging partner for Tour de Shunk Gravel, accommodation options include the Quality Inn & Suites, the Fairfield Inn & Suites, and the Victorian Charm Inn. If you prefer a more home-like experience, there are a handful vacation rentals in the area from cabins to guesthouses, as well as Meredith Colony RV Park and one of a kind camping locations for those that enjoy camping.
Nearby Towanda boasts a charming culinary scene that reflects its small-town charm, offering a mix of traditional American fare, local diners, and family-owned eateries that highlight the flavors and heritage of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Be sure to check out local favorites, Havens Main Street Diner, the Flying Taco, and the Community Cup.
Monroeton, Pennsylvania, tucked away in scenic Bradford County, emerges as an alluring retreat for outdoor athletes every September. Monroeton is a gateway to some of Pennsylvania’s most scenic hiking trails. As September paints the foliage in radiant colors, it’s the perfect time to explore the myriad of trails that wind through the county’s rolling hills, dense forests, and alongside babbling brooks. Mt. Pisgah State Park is located just west of Monroeton and offers a variety of recreational activities, including hiking. There are multiple trails within the park, each catering to different fitness levels. The trails weave through hardwood forests, wetlands, and along the shores of Stephen Foster Lake. The Lake Shore Trail, in particular, offers a moderate hike with serene views of the lake. While it’s a bit farther away, the Loyalsock Trail is well worth the drive. Stretching over 59 miles, this trail offers stunning views of waterfalls, dense forests, and the Loyalsock Creek. It’s a favorite for both day hikes and extended backpacking trips.
Another popular outdoor activitity is kayaking on the Susquehanna River. Flowing gracefully through Bradford County, the river offers outdoor enthusiasts a tranquil yet invigorating kayaking experience. In September, the river’s gentle currents are accompanied by the breathtaking sight of autumnal foliage reflecting off its waters.
Lastly, Monroeton’s proximity to several renowned climbing spots makes it an ideal base for climbers. Locations like Eagles Mere and Worlds End State Park, which are a short drive away, offer climbing routes that range from beginner to expert.
In addition to Tour de Shunk Gravel’s sister road event, the Tour de Shunk Road, one of the Best Road Cycling Events in the Mid-Atlantic, other best in class gravel events taking place in Pennsylvania include the UnPAved Of The Susquehanna River Valley from GRO Races and the Trans-Sylvania Gravel Epic from Trans-Sylvania Productions.
For the multi-sport athletes out there looking for premier endurance events in Pennsylvania and the broader Mid-Atlantic region, be sure to check out the Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic and the Wilderness 101 from Shenandoah Mountain Touring and part of the National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE), both are considered to be some of the Best Mountain Bike Events in the Mid-Atlantic. Top road cycling events in the state include the Gran Fondo Hincapie – Lehigh Valley from Hincapie Events which is part of the Hincapie Gran Fondo Series, as well as GFNY Pennsylvania York from GFNY and is part of its Global Series.
Trail runners have some epic in-state events to choose from as well, including Eastern States 100 which is final leg of the Pennsylvania Triple Crown of mountain running and is a qualifier for both the Western States 100 and the UTBM World Series. The Hyner View Trail Challenge and Worlds End 100k are both PA Triple Crown events and Worlds End is a Western States Qualifier.