Latest Issue

The Roving Sportsman… Take a Walk or Go For a Hike, But Where?

I have been blessed to have been able to travel throughout the state and around the globe, both during my working years and now in retirement. I am always amazed that when I am away from home, my mind constantly wanders back to Northcentral Pennsylvania — the area of my roots. I feel very fortunate to have grown up here and to call this area my home. If you live here or are merely passing through, you too should feel fortunate to be able to enjoy the bounties that our surroundings provide. In particular, we are blessed with numerous options of places to walk or hike.

The Random House dictionary defines the word walk as “to advance on foot at a moderate pace for exercise or pleasure.” The word hike is defined as “to walk a great distance, especially through rural areas, for pleasure, for military training, or the like.” So, let’s take a look at a few destinations you might consider for walking or hiking.

PA Wilds Elk Viewing Area: Within just a couple of hours by car, you can be in the heart of Pennsylvania’s elk country. With around 1,000 animals, Pennsylvania is home to the largest wild elk herd in the northeastern United States. Begin the trip with a stop at the Elk Country Visitor Center at the Sinnemahoning State Park in Austin, PA, and then travel the 127-mile loop through portions of five counties, including several established elk viewing areas. If you time it right in the fall, you may even be entertained by the powerful bugling that these impressive bull elk make in preparation for the upcoming breeding season.

The Pine Creek Rail Trail: This picturesque 62-mile hiking and biking trail runs from Jersey Shore to Wellsboro, traversing both Lycoming and Tioga Counties and following the Pine Creek Gorge. The gradual grade of the old railroad bed makes for a very pleasant walk, bike ride, or, along some sections, a horseback ride. Multiple entry points along the way allow for a shorter hike or bike trip of a few hours, or the more adventuresome can travel the entire route and then enjoy a well-deserved dinner at one of the restaurants in Jersey Shore or Wellsboro. Particularly during the early morning and late evening hours, whitetail deer, black bears, turkeys, and ruffed grouse can be seen, and hawks and bald eagles can often be spotted soaring overhead.

The Pennsylvania Grand Canyon: Located in the Tioga State Forest and southwest of Wellsboro, PA, it stretches over 45 miles and reaches a depth of nearly 1,500 feet at some points. There are two vistas, Colton Point State Park on the western rim and Leonard Harrison State Park on the eastern rim, which provide excellent viewing and photo opportunities. Here, you will find the West Rim Trail, a 30.5-mile stretch that follows the edge of the Pine Creek Gorge that overlooks the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. Its level of difficulty is rated as “moderate.” The trailheads are to the north at Colton Road, south of Route 6, near Ansonia, and to the south at Route 414, 1.8 miles south of Blackwell.

The Loyalsock Trail: Developed in 1951 by Troup 10 of the Explorer Scouts of the Boy Scouts of America from Williamsport, it stretches over 59.2 miles, following old logging roads and a portion of the Towanda Path, once used by Native Americans. It is called one of the most beautiful yet rugged backpacking trails in Pennsylvania, and its difficulty level is rated as “strenuous.” The trailhead to the west is on Route 87 north of Montoursville, and to the east is at Meade Road near Laporte.

Finally, “The Loop” is the nickname given by some locals to the tract of roadways that course through northern Lycoming County and southern Tioga County and provides outstanding opportunities for wildlife viewing and enables great walking locations and hiking trails. Generally, “The Loop” runs out of Waterville northwesterly on Route 414 to Slate Run, then cuts northeasterly to Cedar Run and Blackwell. Thereafter, it angles in a southerly direction into English Center on Route 287, with a final leg along Route 284 back to Waterville. Wildlife viewing, seeing the occasional bald eagle, traveling through scenic countryside, and having some enjoyable places to eat along the way make “Scooping the Loop” a popular way to spend a few hours or most of the day.

From Forksville to Salladasburg and from Mansfield to Jersey Shore, as well as points in between, we have some of the most picturesque and interesting places to see and explore. With great eateries and some fine dining available, plan to make a day trip and take advantage of the bounty that our neck of the woods offers.