Fall is my favorite time of the year to explore hiking trails in hopes to capture some amazing colors. The Pennsylvania Grand Canyon has been on my bucket list for a while and I’m so thankful that I made it there right as the leaves were turning.
Since the Leonard Harrison State Park and Colton Point State Park (Also known as the PA Grand Canyon Parks) is almost 3 hours from my home in Harrisburg, I decided to camp for the weekend and try to get the most out of the outdoors.
The weekend started off not so great as I challenged myself to go camping solo for the first time in about three years. But after a bumpy start, I was able to locate firewood and have a campfire while enjoying a beverage and listening to an audiobook. When I woke up the next morning it was raining – but I wasn’t going to let that get me down! I was determined to have a good time. So I picked up some coffee at the local shop in town (Wellsboro is a short 12-15 min drive from the campsite) and sat in my tent enjoying the view while staying dry, the rain slowed and I adventured to Colton Point SP. Then I did a few trails and then returned to Leonard Harrison SP for a sunset view at the overlook near my campsite.
Saturday was fantastic! After a bite to eat at the Wellsboro House I took a crawler back to the campsite. I had better luck with the fire and even managed to set up my hammock and umbrella to keep dry when the rain started up in the evening.
Waking up Sunday morning, I enjoyed sleeping in while my fellow campers were busy cooking breakfast and packing up. When I woke up, I headed over for coffee and breakfast, returning to the campsite as most others had left. Since I had until 3 PM to “check out” and I was in NO RUSH to get back home, I enjoyed laying in the hammock and watching the clouds, something I haven’t done in a long time. This was what sealed the deal for me that I want to keep solo camping. I loved the alone time, that I had not allowed myself to have until that moment. I’ve booked 2 more camping weekends in November and hopefully, the weather will cooperate.
In 2021 I have challenged myself to visit 52 PA State Parks! I’m excited to get some hiking in and share upcoming hikes on my Facebook Group, Explore PA and Beyond. If you would like to meet up for hikes, camping, stargazing, or enjoying the fall foliage, please let me know!
CURRENT TALLY OF STATE PARKS I’VE VISITED in 2021: 27
On the east rim of the canyon, the 585-acre Leonard Harrison State Park has modern facilities, a visitor center, and the most famous scenic views of the canyon. On the other side of the canyon is Colton Point State Park. Turkey Path Trail is 2 miles, round trip, and is difficult in some areas. When I visited the park the trail was closed at this waterfall (pictured above).
According to the SP website, this difficult trail descends one mile to the bottom of Pine Creek Gorge. It is a down and back trail. There is no bridge across Pine Creek at the bottom. The top half of the trail descends through a series of switchbacks to a view of Little Four-Mile Run at 0.5 miles, then on a short distance to the first waterfall. The trail continues downward along narrow switchbacks and wooden decking, bridges, and steps. The lowest parts of the trail are along with a series of waterfalls. The trail ends at the Pine Creek Trail. Major improvements on the Turkey Path Trail, including steps, observation decks, and handrails were completed by the Pennsylvania Conservation Corps in 1993.
On the west rim of Pine Creek Gorge, also known as the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, the 368-acre Colton Point State Park resonates with the rustic charm of the Civilian Conservation Corps era of the 1930s. The rugged overlooks offer great views of the canyon.
Leonard Harrison State Park is visible on the other side of the canyon. I hiked portions of the Rim Trail, a 1-mile trail that connects to Turkey Path (Colton Point SP also has the same trail name). The Turkey Path on this side of the canyon is 3 miles round trip and the most difficult hiking.
The trail descends 1.5 miles to the floor of the canyon. The highlight is a 70-foot cascading waterfall less than 0.5 miles down. The lowest parts of the trail run along with a series of waterfalls. It is a down and back trail. There is no bridge across Pine Creek at the bottom, however, I didn’t make it all the way down due to a section of the trail that was washed out due to stormwater.