- July 28, 2021
Truth be told, I must have been bitten by the “travel bug” at an early age. I have always been a wanderer, frequently daydreaming about my next quest or next travel and adventure destination. My years in the Air Force only compounded my lust for travel. Now, in the retirement years, I still seek to
Truth be told, I must have been bitten by the “travel bug” at an early age. I have always been a wanderer, frequently daydreaming about my next quest or next travel and adventure destination. My years in the Air Force only compounded my lust for travel.
Now, in the retirement years, I still seek to explore new destinations and unfulfilled opportunities. But, the truth is, whenever I am away from my roots here in Lycoming County, I am often caught up in the desire to be home and enjoy the many outdoor activities that this area is well known for. On numerous occasions, whenever I relate to new friends where I call home, they ask me about Pine Creek and the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, both of which hold a world-class reputation.
The Pine Creek Gorge Natural Area is the second-largest natural area in Pennsylvania, over 40 miles long, at points 1,000 feet deep, and over a mile wide in some areas and covers over 12,000 acres. Furthermore, a large portion of the Natural Area is surrounded by additional acreage of State Forest. In 1968, the Pine Creek Gorge was designated as a National Natural Landmark. The opportunities for all varieties of outdoor enthusiasts are impressive.
Fishing is simply “World Class!” Trout and bass are the big draws, and fly fishermen from all across the United States travel here to enjoy brown, brook, and rainbow trout fishing all along the stretch of water that winds its way through the scenic canyon. Lunker brown and rainbow trout are often caught in Pine Creek, and I fondly recall as a youth growing up in this area the times, I would canoe across the main stream to test my skills at catching colorful native brook trout in its feeder streams.
Canoeing, kayaking, and rafting are all popular along the entire stretch of Pine Creek that winds its way through the canyon. There is some moderate class II whitewater, with long peaceful pools of flat water, all the time coursing through picturesque natural scenery. All during the summer months and into fall as well, water enthusiasts come from all parts of the country to enjoy the unique setting of Pine Creek. The entire length of the established boating stretch is just over 50 miles, which can take several days to complete. The good news is that there are multiple entry/exit locations to adjust your time on the water-based on your time available. If you are adventuresome and wish to travel the entire length, there are primitive camping sites located in the gorge natural area for which you need to obtain a free permit from the Tioga State Forest Office (570) 724-2868 or (570) 753-5409.
In 1996, the Pine Creek Rail Trail was open to the public. Extending over 60 miles from Jersey Shore to north of Ansonia, the trail surface is made up of crushed limestone and has a very flat grade of about 1% overall. Hiking and biking are both available and are especially enjoyed when the water level is too low to travel by kayak, canoe, or raft. This trail has been recognized as one of the most scenic and pristine bike trails in the world.
Whether you travel the Pine Creek Gorge by waterway, on foot, or by bicycle, you will be treated to the natural beauty of the surrounding hillsides, along with frequent sightings of resident birds and animals. Whitetail deer are frequently seen, and don’t be surprised to see black bears, bobcats, coyotes, and even fishers or otters. Of particular note in the bird world is the frequent sightings of birds of prey soaring overhead or perched on streamside or trailside trees.
Travelers through the gorge will often be able to observe numerous hawks and the occasional bald eagle, with golden eagles seen from time to time as well.
No matter how you plan to spend time taking advantage of all that the area has to offer, you should keep in mind that Pine Creek Outfitters in Wellsboro, (570) 724-3003, has available all types of equipment for rent and can also provide a shuttle service for boaters, hikers and bikers.
So, what are you waiting for? Plan to find out this summer what so many other outdoor people have already discovered — the World Class Destination of the Pine Creek Valley!