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Old 04-06-2018, 07:16 PM
Location: NJ
53 posts, read 102,313 times
Reputation: 59


I'm looking to relocate 'from' south Jersey (Mount Laurel area). I want to buy a house with lower property taxes, and also I'm looking for an area where I can go biking on paved trails (such as greenways or trail-to-trails) for long rides - off the street. I need to be near mountains or foothills since I also like hiking and the views. A good downtown area with fun shops and somewhat of a laid back vibe would be great. I've seriously looked all over the country for a new place to live over the past 4 years, and other than a few places like New Mexico, the housing prices have really gone up and so many places are congested with traffic, crazy drivers, etc. I was surprised, from places in NC to CO it's been this way - not the laid back vibe that I remembered from 20 years ago. It's amazing how many articles online say "The 10 best cities, etc", and when I do more research they're already busting at the seems and getting overcrowded. So, since I have family in NJ, I'm thinking that I can find a nice part of PA that fits what I need. It doesn't have to make the top 10 list of best places, and maybe going far away isn't the answer. The area NE of Pittsburgh in the Allegheny National Forest looks great for hiking.

Which of these towns (Harrisburg, Reading, Lancaster - or another part of PA) would provide what I'm looking for? I'm beginning to think that maybe I'm just difficult.. lol.. because I keep thinking that I'll find this magic place but when I finally visit where I've been researching it's not what I expect. For work, I'm a mental health therapist and I see a lot of clients online - so I can take half my job with me. Housing probably shouldn't be too expensive, such as $250K.
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Old 04-07-2018, 11:01 AM
23 posts, read 24,166 times
Reputation: 30
This might be of interest to you: https://schuylkillrivertrail.com/
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Old 04-07-2018, 11:24 AM
Location: Pennsylvania
17,854 posts, read 11,352,962 times
Reputation: 31945

just to get you started.
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Old 04-07-2018, 02:41 PM
4,147 posts, read 3,616,504 times
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Look into the very quaint and friendly village of Wellsboro. The 62 mile Pine Creek Rail Trail is nearby as are many state forests. The Susquehannock Trail System is an 85 mile loop through Potter County, which is next door to Wellsboro.
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Old 04-08-2018, 09:56 AM
Location: Pennsylvania
5,726 posts, read 10,386,711 times
Reputation: 9723
Lancaster has a better downtown than the other two, but lacks the biking and hiking trails. Try Bethlehem as a better blend of what you want.
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Old 04-08-2018, 01:12 PM
Location: Philadelphia
246 posts, read 163,548 times
Reputation: 637
Hello Mitak-

I grew up in north central PA (Williamsport), and in parts of my adult life, I’ve lived in Allentown, Harrisburg, and the Philadelphia area. I’d hesitate to call myself a serious “cyclist” since I ride a fairly modest hybrid bike, but I absolutely love riding my bike and have averaged as much as 20 miles per day through the past decade. I’m also in a somewhat similar position professionally since I work mostly from a home studio and have the flexibility to reside practically anywhere.

I’m not quite sure what to suggest because I don’t know exactly what type of a laid back town you’re envisioning. Maybe I’m misreading your post, but I get a mental image of a sort of Northern Exposure-like town filled with colorful characters who all know you by name. If so, Wells5’s suggestion of Wellsboro would probably be more appropriate along those lines. But definitely consider how remote Wellsboro is—I think it would be wise to try living in such a place for a month or more before committing to move.

Harrisburg, Reading, and Lancaster are certainly workaday cities as opposed to quaint towns, but I’ll add this in their favor: They’re large enough that they have various professional, hobby, and social groups and institutions, but these cities are also small enough that the groups tend to be fairly outgoing in terms of reaching out to new members. So I think it’s possible for you to find your own nice little niche within the community.

In terms of biking, I was quite happy with the opportunities available both in Harrisburg and the surrounding region. The city maintains a roughly four-mile paved path parallel to Front Street offering magnificent views of the city, the river, and the bridges linking the East and West Shores—including the bike/pedestrian bridge to City Island. This pathway is part of a 20-mile loop of mostly paved paths called the Capital Area Greenbelt which connects several parks across the Harrisburg area and offers varied terrain and scenery.

One of my favorite bike rides in the Harrisburg area is about ten miles north of the city. The Stony Valley bike trail covers 20 miles of a serene, quiet valley roughly between Dauphin and Pine Grove. The trail isn’t paved—it’s lined with crushed stone—but it was no problem riding on my hybrid bike with its fairly standard all-purpose tires. During off-peak times, you can frequently go a half hour or longer without seeing or hearing any signs of human activity—no cars, no buildings, no people...only the trail itself. The fact that such an unspoiled wilderness area is within minutes of downtown Harrisburg is, in my estimation, truly remarkable.

Another of my regular biking destinations was Swatara Creek State Park where several miles of paved trails provide easy, scenic riding opportunities. In addition to other disconnected sections of bike paths scattered across the region, a quick glance at Google's bicycle map layer reveals a few other long pathways nearby that are comparatively new: The Lebanon Valley Rail Trail spans about 18 miles between Lebanon and Elizabethtown, and the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail runs about 10 miles from Newville to Shippensburg.

As you’ll see if you look at the rail trail guides linked above by other posters, Pennsylvania has no shortage of rail lines converted into bike trails—across the Commonwealth. So almost anywhere you decide to look, there will surely be a gently graded bike path nearby.

I hope this has been of some help. Let me know if you have any questions—I’ll be happy to answer.
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Old 04-10-2018, 09:34 AM
Location: NJ
53 posts, read 102,313 times
Reputation: 59
Thank you all for this advice! This is exactly what I'm looking for. I'll check out most of these trails. I'm thinking that I'll need to be near a more populated area for socializing, additional income, etc. It's nice to get information firsthand this way instead of doing internet searches on my own.
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Old 04-10-2018, 10:08 AM
4,264 posts, read 10,162,468 times
Reputation: 3830
State College Borough and the immediately bordering townships has a working mostly paved bike trail network - not flat rail trails, but connectors alongside roads and stream corridors. Bicycling in the Centre Region - COG - Council of Governments* This relatively fast growing (for PA) suburban-ish area has employment opportunities in a number of professional fields even not directly connected to Penn State University. While hours' drive away from metropolitan cities, shopping there is honestly comparable to Harrisburg (including Wegmans, and the Trader Joe's so far missing from Hbg, and many bike shops, and a hiking/climbing outfitter now missing from Harrisburg too)
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Old 04-10-2018, 10:34 AM
36 posts, read 18,053 times
Reputation: 46
I suggest you take a look at communities along the Delaware & Lehigh corridor. D&L Map - D&L - Delaware & Lehigh In the Palmerton area it takes you past the Appalachian trail and other hiking trails.
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Old 04-15-2018, 02:22 PM
531 posts, read 196,630 times
Reputation: 1904
Mitak, your first post was interesting. The wife and I made an extremely similar journey, to recently end up here in Strasburg, Lancaster county. At different times in our lives, we though for sure that we would be moving to the Black Hills of South Dakota, the front range north of Denver, and even Wellsboro, PA. We spent 2-1/2 years wandering around in our motorhome, seriously reviewing those locations and a lot of others, including several of the "ten best! Must see" places in the Carolinas, Tennessee, Colorado, etc. We found that, once everything was accounted for, south central PA. is the best choice for us.

Briantroutman has an excellent, well thought out post. IMHO, Wellsboro is a great place to visit, but we decided against relocating there, since it's just too remote from too many things that are important to us. The other extreme would be anywhere in the Philly metro area, which is way too crowded for my tolerance. Given your requirements, I would gravitate toward the Lancaster, Lehigh Valley and State College areas. Having been a long term resident of the Lehigh Valley and The west end of the Poconos, I would be real careful about a lot of the towns along the Lehigh Canal corridor. Jim Thorpe is the only one that I could see as possibly acceptable, and many of the other towns along the river, upstream of the Lehigh Valley, I would rate from marginal to absolute dumps. Good luck with your search.
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