The Pine Creek Gorge is one of the state’s most scenic areas. Recently, my niece expressed interest to see the gorge, otherwise known as the “PA Grand Canyon”. I was happy to show her. So, with the kids in the car, we headed down Route 6 and through the beautiful town of Wellsboro to the canyon. However, I made it clear there would be some off-trail exploring to find a hidden waterfall.
The Pine Creek Gorge was formed by glacial meltwater. Pine Creek used to flow to the northeast, towards Cowanesque. However, glaciers blocked the creek, which spilled down a drainage to the south, carving the canyon. Today, the canyon is almost 50 miles long, and 1,500 feet deep at its deepest point. At Leonard Harrison and Colton Point State Parks, the canyon is 800 feet deep. It is designated as a National Natural Landmark, and Pine Creek was one of the original rivers in the country to be considered for National Wild and Scenic status.
We reached the rim at Leonard Harrison State Park. A frigid wind blew across the canyon. The leaves had long fallen from the trees, giving the forests a purplish hue, as the green white pine trees offered a nice contrast in color. Everyone loved the views, but the cold wind prohibited us from lingering. We soon escaped into the woods and down the Turkey Path to see some waterfalls.
While the Pine Creek Gorge is beautiful in its own right, its true highlight are all its sidestreams and tributaries which have carved into the canyon walls, creating glens and dozens of waterfalls. Many of these secret glens are rarely seen, and they harbor waterfalls of impressive height and number. I once bushwhacked up the gorge of Fourmile Run to see beautiful waterfalls encased by ledges and cliffs; it was as beautiful as the Pine Creek Gorge itself. These glens have carpets of moss, large pine and hemlocks, smooth waterslides and crystal clear pools.
We walked down the Turkey Path to see its waterfalls along Little Fourmile Run. Thanks to recent rains, the falls had a lot of water, and their roar filled the glen. We sat along Pine Creek at the bottom of the gorge, to take a break and eat a snack. The next stop was to find Owassee Slide Falls. We drove down Owassee Road, driving through mud puddles at my nephew’s insistence. After turning around, we found Owassee Slide Run and began our bushwhack. At first, the concept of bushwhacking was foreign to the kids but they soon realized a trail was not required to explore as we climbed up the steep glen. The falls soon came into view, and they were impressive, about 70 feet tall. The kids had fun exploring the falls and hopping across the creek. Next we hiked to views of the canyon from Barbour Rock and Colton Point. The clouds lifted as the sunlight angled into the gorge, casting Pine Creek into shade, leaving it a silver ribbon.