~ Leonard Harrison State Park ~
Pennsylvania's Grand Canyon - Pine Creek Gorge

Do not expect sights as you would see in Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, when you view the following photos. Millennia of erosion has taken thousands of feet from the heights of the Appalachian Mountains and the depths of the canyons there. That does not mean that the sights are not spectacular in their own right. Pine Creek Gorge was formed by the forces of ice sheets and glaciers over a million years ago. It is presently 1450 feet deep at it's deepest point and nearly 4000 feet from rim to rim. The Indians call Pine Creek "Tiadaghton," which meant river of pines. During the 1800s the pines were clear cut, forever changing the effects of nature on the area. Trees are back now, but the damage had been done, a creek that could once be navigated by canoe all summer now is rock strewn by August each year. The soils which had retained water to supply the creek year round had been eroded away. The Pine Creek Gorge was named a National Natural Landmark in 1968.

To get to Pine Creek Gorge I travelled across northern Pennsylvania on U.S. Route 6. I passed through too many small towns to count viewing one of my favorite sights while traveling, Americana. Every small town, no matter its location, looks much like any other, yet they are all vastly different. Each has its own attributes to offer to the country. These small towns are a part of the reason that I prefer to travel the U.S. and State Route systems rather than the Interstates.

U.S. Route Six

U.S. Route 6 on the left. One of the small towns I passed through was Coudersport, PA, which is the photo on the right.
U.S. Route 6, also called the Grand Army of the Republic Highway, a name that honors an American Civil War veterans association, is a main route of the U.S. Highway system, running east-northeast from Bishop, California, to Provincetown, Massachusetts. Until 1964, it continued south from Bishop to Long Beach, California, and was a transcontinental route. After U.S. Route 20, it is the second-longest U.S. highway in the United States and is the longest continuous highway. U.S. Route 20 is interrupted at Yellowstone, because U.S. Routes are not numbered in national parks.

Another small town on U.S. 6

And another

Driving along US 6 I spotted this flower. It looked much like the Fireweed that I had seen on my Canada trip in 2007. I had also seen it in the Northwest in 2011. I did not expect to see it this far south or east. But there it was.

Pine Creek Gorge and Leonard Harrison State Park

Leonard Harrison SP lies on 585 acres on the eaast rim of Pine Creek Gorge. The original 121 acres of the park were given to the state by Harrison, in 1922. The additional lands were added in the 1940s. On the west rim lies Colton Point State Park.

To get there I had to drive roads like this one

Approaching the rim

First look down

The bottom in the lower right corner

Views to the north

A look to the west rim

Me at the overlook

A look to the south

And to the bottom

Another view of the bottom on the left. On the right is the forest heading up the mountain, which is above the viewing area.

These views of the forest were taken on my walk to the Turkey Path, a trail to the bottom of the gorge.

The Turkey Path

The canyon wall is very steep and the Turkey Path has many cutbacks like the one on the lower left photo. I took the photo from an cutback apex. The trail goes up to the left and down in the center. The photo on the lower right is looking down to the next cutback, which is visible about one-third of the way up from the bottom of the photo.

Down and down goes the path. I was definitely not in hiking condition, so I only took the trail about half way down into the canyon. As time went on, during this tour of the Northeast, I would get in better shape.

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