LEONARD HARRISON STATE PARK
On the east rim of the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, 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.
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.
Camping: rustic sites, some with electricity
The campground is open from the second Friday in April until the third Sunday in October. Picnic tables, fire rings, water, rustic toilets and a sanitary dump station are provided.
Leonard Harrison State Park is located near Wellsboro
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.
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.
Do not overestimate your ability or stamina; think ?Safety First? and take your time to enjoy your experience. Avoid the temptation to get on rock overhangs for a better view. Stay behind the railings and fences.
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 and Colton Point state parks. 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.
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 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.
The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania
Leonard Harrison and Colton Point state parks are on opposite sides of the Pine Creek Gorge, called the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. Many scenic vistas 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.
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 and Colton Point state parks, the depth of the canyon is about 800 feet and these parks have the most spectacular scenic overlooks.
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.
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 has carved the spectacular Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.
For 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.
Stony Fork Creek Campground
658 Stony Fork Creek Rd
Penn Wells Lodge
4 Main St
To reach the 585-acre Leonard Harrison State Park on the eastern rim, take PA 660 west from Wellsboro for ten miles.