Just south of State College in north-central Pennsylvania, the 30 mile R3 combines single-track with forest roads for over 4,600 feet of vertical. The route links up the technical single-track of Shingleton Gap, the rough and twisty descent on old Gettis Ridge Road, the wild Benson Trail, the long ascent on the Detweiler Trail, and finally, the dream-mountain bike ride down Long Mountain Trail. Along the way, the R3 passes three Designated Natural Areas, including ancient hemlock forests.
With the Purple Lizard trail map in hand, start riding west up Bear Meadows Road. Turn right on Laurel Run Road. Watch for the yellow gate on the right and turn into the Shingleton Gap loop. After returning to the yellow gate, continue up Laurel Run to the next yellow gate on the right and follow the Little Shingleton Gap Trail. Turn right following the blue-blazes. At Bear Gap Road, turn west and climb to the summit. Descend the rocky Gettis Ridge Road through tight switchbacks. Turn onto the marked Benson Trail (which can be difficult to see).
Once on the Benson Trail, climb steeply to Beidehiemer Road. Turn left and mountain bike ride south for a couple miles merging into Bear Meadows Road. Watch for a yellow gate on the right and turn onto the Detweiler Trail for a long climb. Turn right on the Thickhead Mountain Trail for a couple miles and then right again on the Long Mountain Trail. Get ready for a long climb. At the summit, start a nice 3 mile double-track descent leading back to Bear Meadows Road. Turn right heading east for 3 miles. At the final summit, turn left briefly on North Bear Meadows Road and then right onto Lonberger Path for the final descent back to the parking area to finish this epic adventure.
To reach the mountain biking trailhead from, State College, head south on US322 for 6 miles. Turn right on Bear Meadows Road heading west. Park on left just past the Tussey Mountain Ski Area.