Grand Canyon Of Pa.

Pine Creek Gorge, Pennsylvania 

The Grand Canyon of Pa is better known as Pine Creek Gorge in the eastern U.S. (for non-Americans, it`s pronouned pee-ay and is short for Pennsylvania)

The gorge covers about 160,000 ares of land in the Tioga State Forest and runs for 47 miles in a generally southward direction beginning close to the village of Ansonia. It is just south of Ansonia that the gorge passes between two Pennsylvania State Parks, Colton Point State Park to the west and Leonard Harrison State Park to the east.

At this point Pine Creek Gorge is around 800 feet (240 metres) deep and 4,000 feet (1,200 metres) from rim to rim.

Pine Creek Gorge In The Tioga State Forest

The Grand Canyon of Pa has been designated a National Natural Landark for the 12 mile section between Ansonia and the town of Blackwell to the south. It received this accolade beause "it contains superlative scenery, geological and ecological value and is one of the finest examples of a deep gorge in the eastern United States.

The gorge is not only a National Natural Landark but the creek that cut it is designated as a National Wild and Senic River.

In addition, running the length of the gorge is the Pine Creek Trail.

This is a 65 mile long trail, built on part of the old New York Central Railroad and described by USA Today as one of the ten great places in the world to take a bike tour.

This map not only shows the trail but also the gorge and surrounding towns.

Other great hiking trails in the area of the Pa Grand Canyon include the Pennsylvania Mid State Trail and the Black Forest Trail.


Even Road Signs Call It The Grand Canyon (Photo by AndyArthur)

When visitors admire the beauty of Pine Creek Gorge as they see it today, it is hard to believe that in the early years of the 20th century the area was known as the "Pennsylvania Desert."

The old-growth forests of white pine, hemlock and hard wood were stripped totally bare by logging - the only thing left on the barren slopes of the gorge were dried out tree tops which became a terrible fire hazard.


The Grand Canyon Of Pa During The Fall

Pine trees from the gorge were considered to be the best timber in the world with which to make ships masts.

Logs harvested in the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon would be floated down Pine Creek to the Susquahana River, then to Chesapeake Bay and finally the Baltimore shipbuilders. 

Also millions of rifle stocks and the famous Conestoga wagon, which would cross the prairie westwards in their thousands, were made from Pennsylvania timber.

In 1840 Tioga County alone produced over 22 million board feet of lumber!

The bark of the hemlock was also used in the process of tanning leather and after 1870 the largest tanneries in the world were in the Pine Creek area.

The opening in 1883 of the Jersey Shore, Pine Creek and Buffalo Railway was another significant date in the history of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.  Between 1886 and 1921 there were as many as thirteen different logging companies operating their own branch rail-lines in the gorge.

However, with the end of the logging era, the importance of the railroad waned and the mainline through the gorge eventually closed in 1988 and the route it once took was turned into the Pine Creek Trail. 

Nowadays the logging and rail industries are merely part of the history of the Grand Canyon of Pa.

The gorge has become a retreat, where people can get away from city life to enjoy the fantastic scenery of the woods and take part in the many leisure activities that are available.  

Barbour Rock In Pine Creek Gorge (Photo by Nicholas-T)

There are so many ways to spend your time here. As well as the mainstream pastimes such as camping, hiking, biking, riding and fishing, local outfits organise rafting down Pine Creek during the Spring rapids, motorcycle tours along the rim of the gorge and covered wagon rides beside the beautiful creek. 

Whatever you choose to do at this superb destination, I am sure you will remember the Grand Canyon of Pa for a very long time!


The Pine Creek Gorge is indicated on this map of Pennsylvania with a red star.