Road Trip Guide: Pine Creek Gorge

The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania is home to many waterfalls.
The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania is home to many waterfalls. CDT file photo

Visitors to Pine Creek Gorge, better known as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, can see the wonder in a variety of ways.

They can check out the scenic Tioga County landmark, which reaches a maximum depth of 1,450 feet as it carves the land for 47 miles, by foot, horse, mountain bike and even plane.

But for sheer novelty, nothing beats a covered wagon.

Out of nearby Wellsboro, Ole Covered Wagon Tours, www.olecoveredwagon.com, takes visitors in horse-drawn covered wagons along the canyon floor for much of the almost 60-mile long Pine Creek Rail Trail.

But you don’t have to be as hardy as pioneers to enjoy the tours. The giant buckboard wagons have modern springs and padded seats.

The tours are one of the canyon’s popular attractions, said Colleen Hanson, of the Tioga County Visitors Bureau.

“People come from far away just to do that,” Hanson said.

“They plan their whole trip around them.”

On Wednesdays during the summer and fall, special Waterfall Wagons bring passengers to a spot where they can walk to cascading water. But all excursions go back in history as knowledgeable guides recount the canyon’s colorful past.

For those who would rather control the horses themselves, Tioga Trail Rides, 570-724-6592, offers horseback riding for novices to experts.

“They have a horse for every skill level,” Hanson said. “They’ll take you to see scenery that you can’t see otherwise.”

From horses to horsepower, aerial sightseeing tours are available at the Wellsboro Johnston Airport, www.wellsborojohnstonairport.com. For a more grounded perspective, trails through the overlooking Leonard Harrison and Colton Point state parks lead to breathtaking vistas.

“You’re on top of the world looking down,” Hanson said. “It’s amazing.”

In Leonard Harrison State Park, the Turkey Path winds past waterfalls, dense groves and huge rock outcroppings before descending a mile down to the canyon floor. Before the bottom, hikers can enjoy a detour along the Overlook Trail, a short scenic loop.

More trails abound in the surrounding Tioga State Forest’s 165,000 acres.

Bicycle rentals and guided rafting tours can be reserved through Pine Creek Outfitters, www.pinecrk.com.

While you’re there ...

• Tioga Central Railroad,


, operates excursion trains from Wellsboro to just south of Corning, N.Y., 34 miles of track away. Regular trains run Wednesday to Sunday, with dinner trains added on Friday and Saturday, from Memorial Day through September.

• Since 2003, the Endless Mountain Music Festival,


, in Wellsboro and nearby Mansfield has blended classical, jazz and contemporary music for two weeks of heaven for music fans. This year’s festival will take place July 26 to Aug. 10.

• Highland Chocolates,


, in Wellsboro sells a variety of sweet delights, including its famous pretzel bark, but also employs 25 local people with disabilities under the ownership of Partners in Progress, a Mansfield nonprofit advocacy group.

• Wellsboro boasts several popular restaurants, but the Wellsboro Diner, 19 Main St., 570-724-3992, is a local landmark, an authentic 1939 dining car.

• The Gmeiner Art & Cultural Center,


, a nonprofit gallery in downtown Wellsboro, has been showing art exhibits since 1969. Comics will be the focus in July.

• The Pennsylvania State Laurel Festival,


, follow festival link, has been an annual Wellsboro tradition for 72 years. This year’s week of arts, crafts, music, food and races will take place June 14-22.

• Animaland Zoological Park,


, contains more than 200 wild and domestic animals, including exotic cats, monkeys and kangaroos, in natural settings overlooking the Grand Canyon near Leonard Harrison State Park.