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Old 05-11-2015, 07:12 AM   #1
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Northern Virginia to Erie, PA - Best Route

The Mrs. and I will be doing our first big trip/tow over Memorial Day weekend and I'm looking for route advice. Our '14 Intl. Serenity is stored at a facility in Woodbridge, VA (northern VA, DC suburbs), and we're going to Erie, PA to glamp with our kids (who have a 2009 Serenity) and some other friends. We'll do trailer pickup in the 5-6 am time range and set out from Woodbridge to Erie. There is no route north or east thru DC and its suburbs which will not be gridlocked on a weekday morning.

I am a Washington area native and rush hour commuter, so I already know I won't take the direct route (I-95 north to the DC beltway, north again I-270 to Frederick, MD thence I-70 to Breezewood and the Pa. Turnpike west.) Pretty sure I'll go slightly west from Woodbridge, pick up VA I-66 West. The question is, it will be an easy against-traffic route I-66 to I-81 at Front Royal, and north I-81 to Hagerstown, MD and I-70-- around all the DC traffic, and just about 20 miles longer. My nitnoid map-reader question is, what about Route 522 north? Mapquest says 522 will take me north and west to the PA Turnpike, while I-81 jags east before it gets to Hagerstown.

Anyone had any experience using 522 in that area? Map sez its four lane open-access, so slightly more hassle than an Interstate for towing. Opinions? 66 coupe
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Old 05-11-2015, 08:12 AM   #2
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234 to 66 to 81 to 68 to 79 is the way I would run it on Memorial Weekend. I refuse to use 95. Ill go 200 miles out of the way to avoid that road.

Enjoy the weekend. We are leaving the day after for a couple of days in Gettysburg and then on to the Wally Byam Region 2 in Centre Hall PA

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Old 05-11-2015, 02:26 PM   #3
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VA to Erie PA Route -- II

Thanks Bud, I had thot of that but a friend who's used 68 west to east waved me off of it -- hilly, a hard tow (he says). He's got a 150 Ecoboost, I've got a 150 with the 6.2L V-8 so power's not a problem. 68 would skip the PA Turnpike, always a useful thought. Appreciate your viewpoint - is 68 preferable to the turnpike? tx 66coupe
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Old 05-11-2015, 03:32 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by 66coupe View Post
The Mrs. and I will be doing our first big trip/tow over Memorial Day weekend and I'm looking for route advice. Our '14 Intl. Serenity is stored at a facility in Woodbridge, VA (northern VA, DC suburbs), and we're going to Erie, PA to glamp with our kids (who have a 2009 Serenity) and some other friends. We'll do trailer pickup in the 5-6 am time range and set out from Woodbridge to Erie. There is no route north or east thru DC and its suburbs which will not be gridlocked on a weekday morning.

I am a Washington area native and rush hour commuter, so I already know I won't take the direct route (I-95 north to the DC beltway, north again I-270 to Frederick, MD thence I-70 to Breezewood and the Pa. Turnpike west.) Pretty sure I'll go slightly west from Woodbridge, pick up VA I-66 West. The question is, it will be an easy against-traffic route I-66 to I-81 at Front Royal, and north I-81 to Hagerstown, MD and I-70-- around all the DC traffic, and just about 20 miles longer. My nitnoid map-reader question is, what about Route 522 north? Mapquest says 522 will take me north and west to the PA Turnpike, while I-81 jags east before it gets to Hagerstown.

Anyone had any experience using 522 in that area? Map sez its four lane open-access, so slightly more hassle than an Interstate for towing. Opinions? 66 coupe
I've towed from Virginia Beach to Ohio many times. And I've used Route 17 from Newport News to Fredericksburg, then on to Winchester where I've picked up 522 north. You go through horse country and wine country if you stick to route 17 north of I-66 (and speed is very slow, recommend it for a destination, not a thruway).

For your trip, definitely stick to I-66, then go north on I-81 and bypass Winchester. NORTH of Winchester is where you want to get onto 522. GO all the way around Winchester before you get on 522... the first sign will put you through old town Winchester... not joyous with a trailer. (don't ask)

522 is doable and pretty, and there are DEER everywhere so be alert. It is four lane HILLY until you get to West Virginia, then it's two lane hilly most of the rest of the way to the Maryland line, but little traffic. You also go through Berkeley Springs WV - 35 MPH (speed trap!) and don't even try to use a gas station there! Get fuel before you cross into WV. Once you get to I-68 I'd stay on it. It isn't flatland like DC, but it's an interstate... There are a few long grades, but there are truck lanes on those, so use them if you don't have a super big tow vehicle. It's also a pretty drive for an interstate highway, little traffic in many places. I'd go west to Morgantown, and jog north on I-79/19.

Washington PA used to have one of the world's most awful exit ramps (full circle 25mph) but that's been eliminated... It's also a BIG speed trap, so keep below the flow with out of state tags. Next potential problem is Pittsburgh. Avoid I-79 during rush hour.... after that it's straight on to Erie.

I'd avoid the PA turnpike, it will break the bank - they charge by axle. Occasionally the Turnpike gets a hard on about using the tunnel with propane tanks open. Most of the time, no inspection but sometimes, yep! I took it EAST from Ohio to Baltimore with my Avion. Always LOTS of construction, redeemed only by 24/7 Starbucks at most rest stops.

Happy trails. Paula
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Old 05-11-2015, 04:39 PM   #5
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Paula is correct about 522...we travel it all the time when traveling from Western PA to the Eastern Shore of Virginia/North Carolina. Might consider 522/70 to Breezewood, 10 miles on Pa Turnpike to Bedford, I-99 North to Altoona, pick up 22 West to Ebensburg, 422 West to I-79 just North of Butler. It's the hypotenuse of the triangle. All roads are 4-lanes except for about 30 miles and plenty of stopping places along the way: gas, food, Walmart. No excessive hill climbing along that route. Enjoy your camping...

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Old 05-11-2015, 10:08 PM   #6
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66 to 81 to bypass around Winchester. ?.37 I think will take you to 522 north then 70 ewest to 68w 79 n at Morgantown. 68 does have some mountain climbs but pretty drive. Speed limit in Md is 65. 70 in WV. 79 in Pa a bit jouncy but ok. Washington Pa kinda goofy but it's all interstate. Watch the signs for Pittsburgh and enjoy the WV scenery.
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Old 05-12-2015, 07:05 AM   #7
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Thanks Bud, I had thot of that but a friend who's used 68 west to east waved me off of it -- hilly, a hard tow (he says). He's got a 150 Ecoboost, I've got a 150 with the 6.2L V-8 so power's not a problem. 68 would skip the PA Turnpike, always a useful thought. Appreciate your viewpoint - is 68 preferable to the turnpike? tx 66coupe

If your friend thought 68 was hilly and twisty he or she has never driven the PA Turnpike with a trailer. Hilly - Twisty and at times tight. I've run both countless times in a truck, car, truck pulling AS, Motorhome, motorcycle and I will take 68 anytime. Only one real tight and "ugly" area and that is going through Cumberland MD, so simply stay right and go your speed. I think it's a 45 MPH limit anyway. Plus you save on the much increased tolls on the PA turnpike and the booths get jammed up on holidays, especially where 70 runs into 76 in Breezewood where one actually has to get off the interstates and go into the town, by a truck stop and back onto the ramps and onto the turnpike.

Enjoy the trip and the weekend.
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Old 05-12-2015, 12:12 PM   #8
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This is right in my backyard. Looking at the map for a few minutes to see what I would do...

Your plan around Winchester sounds good. I'd suggest taking exit 310 off of 81 and go West on 37 (the only way you can go). It's an easy road. That'll take you the right way around Winchester, and then you can take 522 out of there. 522 is a scenic 4-lane divided, and if you say you're not lacking in power, the hills shouldn't be an issue. Be sure and wave at the hospital off of 37 - I'll probably be working when you're having fun

If you need a scenic place to stop, Berkeley Springs in WV is quite nice. It's quaint, artsy, and you can stretch your legs, if you can find a place to safely park a TT. I've never tried. It's a two-lane nondivided road around that area, but with a generous shoulder and occasionally an extra lane on the uphills. I think through Berkeley Springs proper, it's mostly 4 lanes but narrower. Easy to do if you don't mind straddling a white line just to flex your personal space a little (there are parked cars curbside and it's almost always filled). That being said, Berkeley Springs is only a mile or two long, and then you're back in the country. Oh, and make sure you don't speed through Berkeley Springs. The cops have nothing to do around there except ticket the speeding visitors.

Once you get up farther north, I can't comment on the quality of the road, but it's not far from there to get on I70, and then you're golden anyway.

PS - you need to change your profile - under your avatar it says "Currently Looking"
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Old 05-12-2015, 12:31 PM   #9
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This is right in my backyard. Looking at the map for a few minutes to see what I would do...

Your plan around Winchester sounds good. I'd suggest taking exit 310 off of 81 and go West on 37 (the only way you can go). It's an easy road. That'll take you the right way around Winchester, and then you can take 522 out of there. 522 is a scenic 4-lane divided, and if you say you're not lacking in power, the hills shouldn't be an issue. Be sure and wave at the hospital off of 37 - I'll probably be working when you're having fun

If you need a scenic place to stop, Berkeley Springs in WV is quite nice. It's quaint, artsy, and you can stretch your legs, if you can find a place to safely park a TT. I've never tried. It's a two-lane nondivided road around that area, but with a generous shoulder and occasionally an extra lane on the uphills. I think through Berkeley Springs proper, it's mostly 4 lanes but narrower. Easy to do if you don't mind straddling a white line just to flex your personal space a little (there are parked cars curbside and it's almost always filled). That being said, Berkeley Springs is only a mile or two long, and then you're back in the country. Oh, and make sure you don't speed through Berkeley Springs. The cops have nothing to do around there except ticket the speeding visitors.

Once you get up farther north, I can't comment on the quality of the road, but it's not far from there to get on I70, and then you're golden anyway.

PS - you need to change your profile - under your avatar it says "Currently Looking"
If you want to visit in Berkeley Springs- going north at the north end of town there's an old cement water tower on the left - and the parking lot for a Moose or Elks Club (can't remember which). It's the easiest place to pull off in the whole town. Even if a meeting is going on the lot is rarely more than half way full. It's a bit of a hike back to the restaurants, etc, but not too far.
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Old 05-12-2015, 02:01 PM   #10
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If you want to visit in Berkeley Springs- going north at the north end of town there's an old cement water tower on the left - and the parking lot for a Moose or Elks Club (can't remember which). It's the easiest place to pull off in the whole town. Even if a meeting is going on the lot is rarely more than half way full. It's a bit of a hike back to the restaurants, etc, but not too far.
Absolutely right - I met someone in that lot once. It is probably a half mile off the main strip, but yes - super easy lot for parking.
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Old 05-12-2015, 04:43 PM   #11
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No matter which way you go you've got to cross the mountains but by coming up 522 to 70 then Pa turnpike at least you come out above Pburg and after that 79 is cool. Another scenic route is to take 66 west to 81 then find corridor H (rte 48) and head west then come north through Keyser WVa to Cumberland on 220 then either head west on 68 to 79 at Morgantown or continue on 220/99 north to I think 80west to 79north
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