An Autumn Hike In The Pennsylvania Grand Canyon

An Autumn Hike In The Pennsylvania Grand Canyon

Colton Point (7 of 28)
Previous Post
Next Post

I awoke early in the Quality Inn in Mansfield, Tioga County on Saturday morning.  After a cup of coffee in my hotel, I was off to pick my nephew Mikey up at his dormitory at the University. We were soon  off to visit the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon located about 25 miles west of Mansfield.  The sun was rising as we drove through the farms fields and woodlands along our route. 

On arriving at the Leonard Harrison State Park, located on the eastern rim of the canyon,  we found only a few fellow hikers at the parking lot.  We  took the short  walk to the  overlook.  Here we  took in the impressive view of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon for the second time in my life. 

I had made a short visit here on a camping trip a few years ago. 

This time ,after taking in the views of this magnificent canyon, and reading some of the information, on its formation and history, my nephew and I began our decent to the Pine Creek 800 feet below on the Turkey Path Trail. 

The trail began as a number of  fairly steep switchbacks under a forest of mixed deciduous and conifer trees. 

Leaves from the oaks and maples covered the ground.  There were not many wildflowers in bloom along the trail. But  there were still a lot of ferns providing some green color to the browns and yellows of the fallen leaves, including these intermediate  ferns and

Christmas ferns. 

There were also some of these unique species of zigzag goldenrod in bloom,

as well as the only tree in our area that blooms in the Fall, the witch hazel tree.

After walking along a couple of switchbacks the trail became even steeper. A series of steps allowed us to climb deeper into the canyon.

There are, when there is adequate rainfall, three  waterfalls along the trail. Unfortunately, we have not had a lot of rainfall this year and the only a trickle of water flowed over the falls. 

After passing the last waterfall we reached the trail that follows Pine Creek and the bottom of the canyon. 

Pine Creek was low from the lack of rainfall. 

My nephew told me it is one of the best trout fishing streams in Pennsylvania. 

There is a trail that follows the creek on its course through the canyon. 

We rested a bit at the along the trail near the Pine Creek.  We  were soon  joined by a steady stream of additional hikers now making their way down  the canyon, At the canyon floor there were a few fall wildflowers in bloom including. these  common blue wood asters, and 

these sky blue asters. Only recently have I discovered the many different species of fall asters that bloom in our State.

After our short rest we began our 800 foot climb back out of the canyon, It was required a lot more effort than our hike down. I was thankfully for the benches that allowed us to take some much needed breaks along the way. 

On our climb up I noticed the fruit of this jack-in-the -pulpit growing along the trail. 

A few squirrels and chipmunks scurried along the trail and we heard some crows but the only bird we saw was this oven bird.

It took a lot longer to reach the rim than it did getting to the bottom.  But, eventually we made it. We again  enjoyed the views of the Pine Creek we had just visited fall below in the October morning sun. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs from our hike on the eastern rim of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, Tioga County  Leonard Harrison State Park. October 10 2020.

After reading some of the maps and other informative information about the canyon  provided at the visitor center we decided to drive to the west rim of the canyon and visit Colton Point State Park. 

Although only a few thousand feet across the canyon, it is about an 11 mile twenty five minute ride to Colton State  Park along back roads, some being only covered in lose  gravel.  We finally reached the main road , U.S. Route 6 and soon crossed Pine Creek before it entered the gorge and canyon.

Here we saw a great blue heron wading in the waters of the creek. 

The mid October sun shone brightly as we parked at the first overlook to enjoy the spectacular views of the canyon below. 

As we took in the magnificent vista  a  number of turkey vultures soared below us as the sun warmed the cool morning air and created updrafts from the canyon below. 

It would have been nice to see some bald eagles but the vultures flying below and in front of us were interesting to watch, and photograph. 

After taking in the view of the canyon and watching the vultures we decided to hike out Barbour Rock Trail. It provided another overlook high above the Pine Creek flowing in the canyon below. 

It was a nice one mile round trip under the brilliant October sun.

The colorful Fall foliage stood out under the deep blue skies. The trails were now crowded with hikers seeking out the beautiful views from the rim of the canyon. We took in one final look at this natural wonder and made our way back along the trail.

On our walk we  saw little wildlife, just a few chipmunks  gathering acorns. They will be busy the next few weeks, hiding the acorns for use in the long Winter that will soon arrive. 

It was near noon when we l got back to the parking. And we were hungry from our long hike. So we decided to drive to nearby Wellsboro where we enjoyed a hearty breakfast at the Wellsboro Diner while we discussed our vist to the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to the west rim of the  Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. Tioga County Colton Point State Park. October 10 2020. 

And preserving our open spaces or having them there for recreational purposes is one of the things that contributes to the high level of quality of life that we offer in Pennsylvania, and that also translates into economic benefits.
— Ed Rendell

This is my first post