Black bear just outside our cabin


Pine Creek Rail Trail 2009

Last updated October 15, 2009



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Day One | Day Two | Day Three

On July 4, 2009, Norma and I biked 17.8 miles of the Pine Creek Rail Trail. She thought it would be a good place to return in the autumn with her family. Hence, on Columbus Day weekend 2009, we returned with her mother (Hazel) and her sister (Joyce).

For Norma and I, this was actually our third visit to the area in 2009. Obviously, we really like the place. Our first time was on February 15, 2009 when we walked the icy trails. It would be nice to see the area change with the seasons.

Day One, Saturday, October 10, 2009

Norma and I drove up in the rain with Joyce and Hazel driving separately. The forecast said was that it would stop later in the day, which it did.

Our first stop was the southern terminus of the trail at Jersey Shore. Though we were loaded with maps, we didn't have any that told us exactly where the trail ended so it took a little driving around and asking directions to find it. We would return here on day three.

The next stop was the town of Cammal. Here, we left Norma's car at the McHenry Township Community Center at the corner of Railroad Street and Cemetery Road. Then we all piled into Joyce's truck. We later found a plethora of trail access lots, most with restrooms and many with canoe access. From Blackwell heading south, they were all just off route 414 and spaced roughly 6 miles apart.

The four of us headed to Wellsboro where we ate lunch at the
     Wellsboro Diner
     19 Main Street
     Wellsboro, Pennsylvania 16901
     Phone: 570-724-3992
On our last trip, we stopped there but the wait was too long so we ate elsewhere. There was a pretty long wait this time around too but we were set on finding out why this place was so popular. The food was indeed very good.

With full bellies, we checked in at Pine Tree Lodge. Norma booked us two small cabins. Each had a kitchenette, shower, and heater. Compared to our usual car camping, it was like staying at the Hilton (except for the angled floor in cabin 2). The price was right at $45.78 per night per cabin.

After having digested a bit, we walked at Colton Point State Park. Here, we checked out the numerous views overlooking the canyon. The fall colors were lovely though a little more red would have been nice.
  • Photo one: Looking north in the canyon.
  • Photo two: Looking south in the canyon.
  • Photo three: See the rail trail below?
  • Photo four: Fine fall colors.

  • Joyce, Hazel, myself, and Norma (shown left to right in the fifth photo) did a one mile walk on the Rim Trail where we saw mushrooms and tea berry plants. We ate a few tea berries which tasted a little bit like toothpaste. See
  • Photo six: Mushrooms.
  • Photo seven: More mushrooms.
  • Photo eight: Tea berry plant with berry.

  • Back at the cabins, Norma made a delicious sausage and pasta dinner.

    We ended the evening by playing Bananagrams. I won.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Day Two, Sunday, October 11, 2009

    Norma, Joyce, Hazel, and I ate breakfast in the cabins.

    It was a foggy morning. The high temperature was expected to only reach 51 degrees.

    We drove to Wellsboro Junction, the northern terminus of the Pine Creek Rail Trail.

    The sun shone off and on, revealing some scenic views to the north (first photo) and the south (second photo).

    We all began biking at 1040. See the third and fourth photos.

    It didn't take long before we saw two snakes (see one of them in the fifth photo) and later a few turtles (see sixth photo).

    The four of us biked along Marsh Creek, where Norma and I paddled during the summer. See the seventh and eighth photos. The creek eventually merged with Pine Creek, where the two of us also kayaked.

    The four of us stopped at Darling Run, near mile 9. There, we checked out the visitor center and ate lunch. Some horse-drawn covered wagons passed by. See the ninth photo.

    Norma and Hazel biked a little further into the gorge then returned to Darling Run. Hazel biked a total of 12 miles that day! Norma then biked back to Joyce's truck by herself, completing about 21 miles. She picked up Hazel and returned to the cabins.

    While Norma and Hazel biked at their own pace, Joyce and I sped south, through the gorge and past several stops along the way. We maintained a good speed, sometimes reaching over 15 mph.

    In the town of Blackwell, Joyce and I passed a brick church with a pentagram window. I wonder if they were Rush fans. See the tenth photo.

    Joyce and I took a break and walked on a short path to a rocky outcropping overlooking the river. See the eleventh photo. The water below looked like a nice swimming hole for warmer months.

    Near the town of Cammal, we crossed a bridge that offered some nice views of the fall colors. See the twelfth photo.

    The two of us finished biking at 1720, having completed 41.5 miles! Our butts were sore.

    Back at the cabin, Norma made a salmon and pasta dinner.

    We played more Bananagrams. I remained undefeated for the weekend.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Day Three, Monday, Columbus Day, October 12, 2009

    While I showered, a bear walked by the cabins. Fortunately, Norma got it on film. See the first photo.

    It was considerably more sunny than yesterday morning so we went to Leonard Harrison State Park. Things worked out well because on the first day, we visited Colton Point State Park in the afternoon and saw the east side of the river illuminated by the sun in the west. This morning, at Leanard Harrison, we got to see the west side of the river lit by the rising sun in the east.
  • Photo two: Looking directly across from the park.
  • Photo three: Looking north.
  • Photo four: Looking north again.

  • We learned how the Pine Creek Gorge, also known as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, was formed over 20,000 years.
  • Before ice age glaciers covered this part of Pennsylvania, the course of Pine Creek was separated by a high land divide. The streams north of this divide flowed to the northeast. The streams to the south flowed to the southwest.
  • Over a million years ago, an advancing ice sheet blocked the north- and east-flowing streams. Meltwater lakes formed in the valleys.
  • Over the next thousands of years, ice sheets advanced and receded over Pine Creek Gorge several times. Each period of glacial scouring and water erosion played its part in the formation of Pennsylvania's Grand Canyon.
  • The meltwater lake in the Upper Pine Creek-Crooked Creek Valley overflowed into a powerful waterfall in the shallow dip of the highland divide. The force of the water began to deepen Pine Creek Gorge.
  • - from sign at Leonard Harrison State Park: "The Grand Canyon, a 20,000 Year Process"

    The four of us walked on the hilly 0.6 mile Overlook Trail (fifth photo) down to Otter View (sixth photo) and back.

    We passed what I think was a kiln of some sort. See Joyce (with her Cat-in-the-Hat knit cap) and me in seventh photo.

    Before leaving the park, we posed for a couple more photos.
  • Photo eight: Looking north with not-so-much sun behind; Norma, Hazel, and Joyce.
  • Photo nine: Looking south; Norma and me.

  • Norma and I were dropped off at Cammal to resume our bike riding at 1430. Joyce and Hazel drove to the end of the rail trail where Joyce then began riding north to meet us. Hazel had enough biking for one weekend.

    Norma and I saw the places we hiked in February. Seeing them brought back fond memories. We spent some time looking out over the creek on the bridge at Ramsey. See the tenth photo.

    The sun was hiding behind the clouds and it got colder. We were fortunate to have seen such nice autumn views at Leonard Harrison State Park earlier in the day.

    Just south of Ramsey, Joyce met up with us. The three of us biked the remainder of the trail, finishing at 1730. Norma and I biked 21 miles that day. I completed the entire rail trail! Woo hoo!

    We loaded up the bikes then bid our farewells as we prepared for the long drive home. Fortunately, traffic was light.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Sometimes after visiting a beautiful place, you want to return and share it with your loved ones. Material gifts can be nice but sometimes the ones closest to the heart are those that are experienced.