Pennsylvania Grand Canyon Pine Creek Gorge Leonard Harrison and Colton Point State Parks Pictures
Leonard Harrison and Colton Point state parks are on opposite sides of the Pine Creek Gorge. When you hike the trails, You'll see many scenic vistas that offer spectacular views into the 800-foot deep, glacially carved canyon. The scenery at these parks is superb in every season of the year and is especially stunning in late September through mid-October. The large abundance of deciduous hardwood trees display beautiful autumn shades of yellow, orange, red and purple. Pockets of evergreen trees provide a dash of green year-round. Tioga State Forest: The 159,466-acre Tioga State Forest provides timber products, wildlife habitat and recreation. 570-724-2868.
The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania begins just south of Ansonia, along US 6 and continues south for about 47 miles. At its deepest point, Pine Creek Gorge is 1450 feet deep and nearly one mile wide. At Leonard Harrison State Park and Colton Point state park, the depth of the canyon is about 800 feet and these parks have the most spectacular scenic overlooks.
Hiking: 4.6 miles of trails:
The trails traverse very rugged terrain, passing close to many steep cliffs, and may have slippery surfaces. Stay on designated trail surfaces and wear appropriate footwear.
Turkey Path Trail: 2 miles down and back up - This difficult trail descends one mile to the bottom of Pine Creek Gorge. Please be aware that the canyon is a wilderness area and you must be prepared for such travel if you decide to hike on our trails. Help us keep the erosion to a minimum by staying on the trail and not taking shortcuts. Not only will you risk serious injury, but will trample fragile vegetation. It is a down and back trail. There is no bridge across Pine Creek at the bottom. A beautiful vista, one-half mile down the Turkey Path Trail, was constructed by the Youth Conservation Corps in 1978. Shortly after the vista, there is a scenic waterfall along the path on Little Four-Mile Run. Major improvements on the Turkey Path Trail, including steps, observation decks and hand rails were completed by the Pennsylvania Conservation Corps in 1993.
Overlook Trail: This 0.6-mile loop takes you to Otter View, a vista looking south.
Pine Creek Trail: The 42-mile Pine Creek Trail is a multi-use trail for hiking, bicycling, and cross-country skiing. Located at the bottom of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, one mile of this trail is in Leonard Harrison State Park and Colton Point state park. Horseback riding is only permitted on the dirt access road immediately beside the Pine Creek Trail for a nine- mile length from Ansonia to Tiadaghton. Horseback riding is not permitted on the limestone gravel trail. The Horseback trailhead is along Marsh Creek Road near the junction of US 6 and PA 362 at Ansonia.
The opportunities for sightseeing are endless. Trail users can view dramatic rock outcrops, waterfalls, and wildlife like, eagle, osprey, coyote, deer, wild turkey, heron, river otter, black bear and many others. Diverse plant life, scattered old growth timber, historic pine and spruce plantations, and several foundations from the Civilian Conservation Corps era can be found along the trail.
Formation of the Canyon:
Until about 20,000 years ago, Pine Creek flowed northeasterly. Then, the Laurentide Continental Glacier, which covered most of northern North America, moved into the area, pushing rocks, soil and other debris, which dammed Pine Creek, forming a lake near Ansonia.
The abundant glacial meltwater eventually overflowed the debris dam, reversing the flow of Pine Creek to its current southerly flow. The abundant meltwater of the glacier swiftly carved a deep channel. Thousands of years of erosion by Pine Creek Gorge has carved the spectacular Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.
Leonard Harrison and Colton Point State Parks offer outstanding opportunities for fall leaf viewing. Shortening days, cool nights and warm days, wind, and adequate moisture through the preceding seasons, play a factor in the brilliance of the fall foliage. These factors also determine when the leaves will change in the Canyon. Droughts, wind, and cold temperatures can cause leaves to drop early in the fall. Each year varies on when the leaves change, however a guideline is the first three weeks in October provide a spectrum of fall foliage.
Leonard Harrison overlooks offer the best view of the full canyon. The drive up Colton Road to Colton Point State Park and the four overlooks offer spectacular fall foliage viewing opportunities.
General Fall Foliage Colors of Trees:
Human Influence on the Canyon:
The lumbering of the native white pine and later, the hemlock and assorted hardwoods, led to the settlement of this area. Logs were floated in huge rafts each spring to mills at Williamsport. Lumber from this area helped to make Williamsport the lumber capital of the world in the 1880s. Hemlock bark was peeled and hauled to several local tanneries to turn hides into leather. By the 1900s, only a few small areas of native forest were untouched in all of Pennsylvania.
Due to the mass deforestation, massive forest fires, and unregulated hunting and trapping, the wildlife populations declined greatly in the Commonwealth. White-tailed deer, beaver, and elk were reintroduced to the state in the early 1900s. More recent additions to the canyon include the reintroduction of river otters in 1983 and the reintroduction of fishers in the mid 1990s. Bald eagles, once an endangered species, began nesting in the gorge in the late 1980s.
Prior to being a world-class multi-use trail, Pine Creek Trail was an active railroad. The Jersey Shore, Pine Creek and Buffalo Railroad began in 1883 by carrying timber to the sawmills in Tiadaghton, Cammal, and Slate Run. The railroad also transported coal north to New York State and vast amounts of hemlock bark to several local tanneries for use in the leather industry. By 1896, the railroad was carrying seven million tons of freight and three passenger trains on daily runs between Wellsboro Junction and Williamsport.
The railroad changed hands several times and was eventually taken over by Conrail. The last train passed through the canyon on October 7, 1988. Today, the rail line has taken on a new life as a part of the state’s extensive network of railtrails.
In 1968, 12 miles of the canyon were designated a National Natural Landmark by the U. S. Department of the Interior. In 1993, the Canyon became a State Park Natural Area, which will protect it in a natural state for future generations. In 1992, Pine Creek was designated a Pennsylvania Scenic River.
Leonard Harrison State Park honors Leonard Harrison (1850-1929) of Wellsboro. Mr. Harrison was a civic-minded businessman and banker who con-tributed his time, energy and finances to the betterment of his home community. Leonard Harrison State Park originally consisted of 121 acres and was called “The Lookout.” Mr. Harrison owned and developed the area as a public picnic ground. He gave the area to the Commonwealth in 1922. The park was further developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the mid-1930s. A bronze monument to their achievement is on the overlook. Additional lands were added in the park in the late 1940s.
Many recreational opportunities are available in the Canyon. Some of these activities are regulated by the Bureau of State Parks or by the Bureau of Forestry, which have slightly different rules and regulations. Visitors can hike, mountain bike, horseback ride, fish, seasonally whitewater boat, hunt, primitive camp and birdwatch.
Picnicking: Nearly 100 picnic tables (seven of which are covered), charcoal grills, restrooms, drinking water and garbage containers are available. Schloder Pavilion can be reserved for a fee. If unreserved, the pavilion is available on a first come, first serve basis.
Hunting and Firearms: About 250 acres of Leonard Harrison State Park and 100 acres of Colton Point State Park are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, turkey, rabbit, pheasant and squirrel. Hunting is also available in adjacent Tioga State Forest.
Giftshop: The gift shop is open from late April to late October as staffing allows. Call the park office for times and seasonal changes. All proceeds benefit Pennsylvania State Parks. Water, soda and juice vending machines are available from late April to later October.
Environmental Education and Interpretation:
An environmental interpretor presents resource-oriented programs and interpretive walks April through October. Major topics and seasonal programs include: Watershed Education, astronomy, fall color, old fashioned cider squeezing and summer campfire programs. Educational information is available at the visitor center or park office.
The environmental interpretive center, at the
Leonard Harrison State Park main overlook entrance, is open during the summer season through the fall foliage season. A video and educational displays interpret the area and its wildlife. Call the park office for visitor center hours or to schedule an appointment for your group tour.
Nearby AttractionsFor information on nearby attractions and accommodations, please contact the Tioga County Visitor’s Bureau, 888-TIOGA-28, www.visittiogapa.com, or the Wellsboro Area Chamber of Commerce, 570-724-1926.
Colton Point State Park: Just across the canyon lies Colton Point which has camping, hiking and scenic views.
Tioga State Forest: The 159,466-acre Tioga State Forest provides timber products, wildlife habitat and recreation. 570-724-2868.
Other Attractions: Horseback trail rides, covered wagon rides, mountain biking, road bicycling, seasonal whitewater rafting, canoeing and kayaking, as well as airplane rides are available from private sources in the area.
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