Turkey Path, Leonard Harrison State Park, Wellsboro PA
Little Four Mile Run Waterfall
Hiking in the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania
Turkey Path in Leonard Harrison State Park is one route to Pine Creek and the bottom of Pine Creek Gorge. While not anywhere near as long as Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon, it is nearly as steep. This down and back one mile trail drops over 800 feet in elevation.
At the bottom of the gorge, Turkey Path connects to the Pine Creek multi-use rail trail and Pine Creek. On the west shore of Pine Creek, in Colton Point State Park, Turkey Path continues but there is no bridge over the water connecting the two trails.
Mile long Turkey Path in Leonard Harrison State Park is a down and back trail that descends over 800 feet as it courses from rim to canyon floor. A very strenuous hike, the round trip can still be easily accomplished in less than 2 hours. Hikers should be prepared with sturdy shoes and an adequate supply of water.
From the rim overlook patio, just past the visitor's center, Turkey Path starts out with a deceptive gentle grade. This easy walk soon gets more aggressive as the trail becomes a series of switchbacks.
Each outside turn of the switchbacks creates an overlook with majestic views up and down the gorge as well as to the west and Colton Point State Park. Stop for a photo, rest, or refreshment, but remember to carry out everything you carry in.
About halfway down, the trail begins to parallel Little Four Mile Run and its series of waterfalls. In 1978 a vista was built here at the upper falls by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Deep in a mixed forest, with sunlight breaking through the canopy, the waterfalls provide a beautiful backdrop for a short rest on your way down or back.
With steep descents and to prevent erosion, in 1993 the CCC completed construction of wooden decks, steps, and railings on the lower portions of the trail. While the footing is sure, the climb is still strenuous. Please stay on the trail for your own safety and to prevent damage to vegetation or further erosion of the canyon walls.
Before starting the return hike, relax on one of the benches along the Pine Creek rail trail and enjoy the sights and sounds of Pine Creek Gorge.
Turkey Path in Photos, Leonard Harrison State ParkClick thumbnail to view full-size
Little Four Mile Run WaterfallsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Pine Creek Gorge
Leonard Harrison and Colton Point State Parks have been described as "two state parks divided by a Canyon". With Leonard Harrison on the east and Colton Point on the west, Pine Creek and its over 800 foot deep canyon runs between the two.
Turkey Path takes hikers from the rim of either state park to the creek and canyon floor below. Both parks have a trail that shares the same name but, don't be fooled. The trails are not connected. When the creek level is low and the water calm, Pine Creek could be forded, but there is no bridge that connects the 2 paths.
Pine Creek Trail, a 62 mile multi-purpose trail on an old rail bed follows along with Pine Creek as it courses its way through the gorge. The trail is great for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing.
Pine Creek itself offers plenty of opportunities for kayaking, canoeing and whitewater rafting.
Leonard Harrison State Park
Ten miles west of Wellsboro, PA on PA 660, Leonard Harrison State Park is located on the east rim of Pine Creek Gorge.
Vistas from the paved overlook outside the visitor's center offer the best views of the full canyon (some steps required to reach the most distant observation points). In addition to Turkey Path, a 0.6 mile loop trail, Overlook Trail, includes a vista looking south and an inland portion that meanders past an old incinerator.
A monument near the visitor's center serves as a tribute to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and their contributions to the development and maintenance of the park.
Modern picnicking and camping facilities are available from mid-April to mid-October. The facilities include picnic tables, shelters, showers, drinking water, trash bins, and flush toilets.
The park has a seasonal visitor's center/gift shop, vending machines and public toilets.
Colton Point State Park
Six miles south of U.S. Route 6 and Ansonia, PA, on Colton Road, Colton Point State Park is located along the west rim of the canyon.
Rim Trail (not the West Rim Trail which runs several miles along the rim of the gorge) is a relatively flat 1 mile long loop trail that follows the perimeter of the point and provides several great overlooks with views of the canyon.
Turkey Path in this park is a 3 mile down and back hike with a 70 foot waterfall on Four Mile Run about 0.5 miles down. Remember, there is no bridge across Pine Creek connecting the Turkey Paths and the 2 parks.
Picnic areas, rustic camp sites, and a group tent camp site are available mid-April to mid-October. These are more rustic than the facilities in Leonard Harrison State Park. Tables, rustic toilets, fire rings, and a sanitary dump station are available, but there are no flush toilets, drinking water, or showers.
Snowmobiles may be used on the trails in state forest land in the winter.
Along the west rim of Pine Creek Gorge across from Leonard Harrison State Park
Grand Canyon Survey
What canyon have you visited?
© 2013 Mark Shulkosky