Biking the Covered Bridges of America
Think nostalgic America: country roads, rolling farmland, covered bridges. Today, covered bridges are considered as historic landmarks and pieces of the past. However, during their most functional years, they served a higher purpose than shading you from the weather while on your bike tour.
In the 1800s, the covered bridge was introduced to North America as an engineering feat to help protect the wooden structure of the bridge (the truss) from the weather. Wooden bridges exposed to the elements were more vulnerable to rot, so covering them made sure that they lasted longer. The roof kept snow and rain off of the bridge while also strengthening the overall structure.
A handful of our road bike tours at Wilderness Voyageurs grant you access to rural America and some of its most historic covered bridges. The sneak peak below will give you an idea of their importance to American history and the scenery you’ll encounter while on your bike vacation.
One of Kentucky’s few covered bridges, Switzer Covered Bridge, was built in 1855 and crosses the North Elkhorn Creek. It was restored in 1906,1990, and then again after 1997 when it was knocked from its foundation after flooding. Ride across the 120-foot-long bridge for brief reprieve from the Kentucky sun.
Travel and Leisure named Sachs Covered Bridge as one of “America’s Most Beautiful Covered Bridges” in 2013, and it is also one of the most historic. Constructed in 1854 for about $1,500, Union Army soldiers used it to access the field hospital at Black Horse Tavern during the Civil War. General Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army also retreated across the bridge after a victory in the Battle of Gettysburg.
Now only open for pedestrian crossings, you will have the opportunity to explore this site during lunch on the second day of the Gettysburg and the Civil War Tour.
This bridge nestled in Middlebury, VT, is one of the oldest bridges in Vermont. It’s one of the few remaining “double-barrel” covered bridges in Vermont, and it still serves the Middlebury area as a functioning road bridge. Almost 200 feet long, it has been restored countless times over the last 200 years but it still safe for use.
The routes on this tour take you over a number of other covered bridges, as well, including Holmes Creek Covered Bridge and Spade Farm Covered Bridge,
Pennsylvania’s Amish Country is teeming with covered bridges, as PA continued to build covered bridges even after many were replaced as iron usage increased after the Civil War. The state had the most in the country between 1830 and 1880, coming in at least 1,500.
Among the covered bridge crossings on this tour are Herrs Mill Brige, Eshleman’s Mill Bridge, Erb’s Mill Bridge, Zook’s Mill Bridge, Bitzer’s Mill Bridge, and Hunsecker’s Mill Bridge. Pennsylvania still has the most remaining covered bridges in use in the USA, with 212 in 37 counties.
All the bridge photos above were taken on our bike tours. Join us on tour if you’d like to see and ride through these bridges yourself. If you have any questions about these tours, feel free to call us at 800-272-4141, or request a detailed itinerary here. Start planning your bike tour with this easy tour calendar.