The Pine Creek Gorge Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon is located in the Tioga National Forest is an area known as the “PA Wilds”. The gorge covers 165,000 acres of pristine mountains and beauty. It’s an outdoor adventurer’s dream.
There are many outdoor activities in the area from biking the Pine Creek Rail Trail to many miles of hiking trails and paddling Pine Creek. There are several state parks in the area that offer stunning views of the gorge and have their own programs for you to experience. I’ve put together a list of things to see and do so you can enjoy the Pine Creek Gorge Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon.
Leonard Harrison State Park (East Rim of the Canyon)
If you are looking for the most scenic views of the Pine Creek Gorge, Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon, Leonard Harrison State Park is the place to go. This 585-acre park is on the east rim of the canyon. There is a visitor’s center, modern restrooms and a gift shop. The park offers a large picnic area with grills for your convenience.
This 2-mile roundtrip difficult hike goes to the bottom of the gorge ending on the Pine Creek Rail Trail. There you will be at Pine Creek where fishing is available. You will pass several waterfalls along the way.
A short .6 loop trail will take you to Otto View for breathtaking views of the gorge.
Leonard Harrison State Park campground has 28 sites, only 7 with electric and is opened from late April to mid-October. RV sites are limited in size as there is only 1 site for campers over 30’ and 12 sites for RVs from 20 to 30’. All other sites are for tents and RVs under 20’.
Colton Point State Park (West Rim of the Canyon)
Directly across from Leonard Harrison State Park, Colton Point offers views of the canyon from the west side. This 368-acre park is more rugged and has about 100 picnic tables and 5 pavilions that you can rent around the park. This area only has vault toilets. Hiking trails here are more difficult as they pass near many steep cliffs, so stay on the trails.
This 3-mile up and back trail is very steep with a 70’ waterfall about ½ mile down. It goes to the bottom of the gorge to Pine Creek but doesn’t have access over the creek to the Pine Creek Rail Trail.
The Rim Trail is mostly flat hiking and links the overlook view areas together; the trail is about 1 mile.
Note: If you only have time to visit one park, the views of the gorge are much better from Leonard Harrison State Park. To drive from one park to the other, as we did, is 16 miles.
Pine Creek Rail Trail
The Pine Creek Rail Trail is a 62-mile trail where you ride through the Pine Creek Gorge. You will experience beautiful scenery throughout your ride. This is probably the most peaceful ride we’ve been too. The trail begins north of Wellsboro and goes all the way south to Jersey Shore PA. This trail offers stunning scenery as you ride on a nearly level crushed limestone surface with only a 2% grade making it easy for everyone to use. For more details and mile by mile description see my article https://ourusaadventures.com/pennsylvanias-pine-creek-rail-trail/.
Paddling Pine Creek
Pine Creek is considered easy to moderate whitewater river. During spring season it can get up to a class 3 in certain sections otherwise is mostly class 1 and 2. You can conquer the river in a canoe or kayak but it is recommended to use rafts especially in spring. Many companies offer guided rafting trips and also rent canoes and kayaks. The largest in the area is Pine Creek Outfitters, you can find out more about their services at http://www.pinecrk.com/.
Hills Creek State Park
This 407-acre park is located in Tioga County, in Wellsboro, offering all outdoor activities to enjoy. The 137-acre lake is great for boating and swimming. There is a sandy beach which is opened from mid-May to Mid-September. There are no lifeguards so swimming is at your own risk. A snack bar and modern bathroom are nearby.
There is 3 boat mooring area with a capacity of 30 boats. Non-motorized boats and electric motorboats are allowed on the lake. This is also two launch areas with concrete pads where you can launch your boats. All boats need to be licensed or have a permit from the PA Fish and Boat Commission. Permits can be obtained from Pennsylvania State Parks.
You can fish in the lake, Pennsylvania fishing license is required. The lake has largemouth bass, bluegill, carp, walleye, crappie, and yellow perch.
Lake Side Trail
This 3-mile easy trail goes around the lake for the first two miles. After the first mile, there is a beaver house so look for them. The next mile ends at the lake dam and the last mile goes through the picnic area and ends at a parking lot outside the main gate of the park.
This 1.5-mile hike starts at the cabin area of the park and goes through the forest area and fields of wildflowers. There is lots of wildlife in this section of the park so look out for deer.
Yellow Birch Trail
This 1-mile trail starts at the camping area and goes through dense forest.
The campground is open mid-April to mid-October and offers several types of campsites as well as cabins. There are 85 RV and tent sites some with electric-only and some full hookup. There are three camping cottages which sleep 5 people with electric and has heat but no bathrooms or kitchen facilities in them. Also available are camping yurts that sleep 4 and have stove, refrigerator, table and chairs and electric heat but no bathrooms.
In addition, there are 10 modern cabins with a bathroom and kitchen and have two bedrooms. These cabins are open year-round.
Ole Covered Wagon Tours
Old Covered Wagon Tours offers horse and wagon rides through the Pine Creek Gorge Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon. This is a great and fun way for people to see the true beauty of the canyon without hiking and biking. Sit back and enjoy the scenery for their 2-hour ride. These rides start at their farm 12 miles west of Wellsboro.
They also offer a Waterfall Wagon which goes to Little Four Mile Falls. This trip is around 3 ½ to 4 hours and is given most Wednesdays. It’s a very short walk to view the falls. Check their website at https://olecoveredwagon.com/ for more details.
Tioga Central Railroad
Go take a train ride on one of Pennsylvania’s scenic railroads. The train departs from Route 287, 3 miles north of Wellsboro and goes 34 miles to Hammond Lake. This seasonal train runs from Memorial Day Weekend through mid-October with the fall foliage trains beginning September 20th. This train only operates Friday and Saturday evening at 5 pm offering a Sunset Cruise with dinner (optional) and Saturday afternoon at noon for the Lakeshore Express.
Tickets for the Lakeshore Express ride is $20 for adults, $12 for children 5 to 12 with kids 4 and under are free. Tickets for the sunset trail are $25 for adults, $15 for children 5 to 12 and free for 4 and under. If you choose the dinner option tickets are $50 for age 5 and up and include your choice of dinner and children 4 and under are free.
Tioga-Hammond Lake Recreation Area
Tioga-Hammond Lakes are twin lakes located in the Ives Run Recreation Area which is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Hammond Lake at 685-acres and Tioga at 498 are a great recreation area boosting boating, fishing, water-skiing, swimming and camping (163 campsites with water and electric hookup). The area offers a fishing pier, picnic facilities, showers, concession area, hiking and has a greenhouse. There is nesting osprey in the area so make sure you look for them. Also at the end of Tioga Lake there is a 3.2 bike trail.
Camping in the Area
There are numerous campgrounds in the area to accommodate your style of camping no matter if its tent camping or RVing. I’ve already mentioned several state campgrounds and the U.S.Army Corps of Engineer facility. Below is a list of private RV campgrounds located in the area many of which offer shuttles to and from the Pine Creek Rail Trail.
- Canyon Country Campground
- Stony Fork Campground
- Pettecoat Junction Campground
- Potter County Family Campground
- Bucktail Camping Resort
- Twin Streams Campground
- Tanglewood Camping
We stayed at Stony Fork Campground when we visited the area. Its a nice clean campground with a pool and friendly helpful owners. They have a small lake stocked with small fish, a great place for kids to try fishing (its caught and release). The tent area is separate from Rvs and they also have a large seasonal section. We would definitely stay at this campground again. They do offer a shuttle to and from the Pine Creek Rail Trail.
Lodging in the Area
When considering lodging in the area you can choose from motels and hotels, B&Bs or cabin rentals. Below is a list of the ones in the Wellsboro area or ones very close to the Pine Creek Trail.
Bed & Breakfast
- Bear Mountain B&B
- Ludwig’s Trailside B&B
- Cedar Run Inn
- The Susquehannock Lodge
- Canyon Motel
- Terrace Motel
- Sherwood Motel
- Penn Wells Hotel
- Canyon Country Campground
- Potter Country family Campground
- Pine Village Rentals
- Vacation Rentals of Pine Creek
- River of Pine Lodge
- Great Valley Cabin Rentals
- Blackwell Area Vacation Cabins
- A-List Cabin Rentals
If you love the outdoors, the Pine Creek Gorge Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon has so much to offer especially with beautiful scenery, the Pine Creek Rail Trail, hiking, boating and paddling. The fall season offers natures playground with a blast of color. You won’t regret your visit to this wilderness area as its a nature lovers paradise to truly enjoy.
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