Hike into the Clouds: The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania

Well, our autumn seems to be as soggy as our summer was. We visited Pine Creek Gorge, “The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania” for a week, hoping to see the mountain trees aflame in color. While it wasn’t as full of color as I’d hoped, we enjoyed ourselves just being out in nature.

Unlike the Grand Canyon in Arizona, with its muted shades of orange, yellow, and red in a mixture of limestone, sandstone, and shale, Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon is thickly forested mountains dressed in white pines, chestnut, beech and white ash, many kinds of oaks and maples.

One morning we awoke in a veil of clouds. Hoping the sunshine would soon make an appearance and burn off that veil, we drove up West Rim Road, an “improved dirt road” according to the map, up into the Tioga State Forest. We were in search of trails to hike and overlooks to gaze down into the valleys. 

Some of the overlooks were still shrouded in clouds. Nonetheless, we ventured out on the Gundigut Hollow Trail to the West Rim Trail because the map depicted more overlooks. We hiked through trails crowded with mountain laurel and fallen trees.

The leaves were damp upon the path; the forest smelled of earth. I prayed for sun to trickle through the trees to show us the trail. The markers, painted rectangles on tree bark, were far between. Many trees had fallen, roots clogged with rocks. Rugged. Rural. Beautiful.

But as we hiked back to the car, the sun did appear; bright shafts slanting through the trees. My hopes of glorious overlooks increased. We visited Colton Point, an amazing overlook on the West Rim of the canyon complete with interpretive signs. Once there, we saw another overlook across the valley. So we continued down our “improved dirt road,” drove through the town of Wellsboro, and over to Leonard Harrison State Park, a park with a museum and a video about the area. We love watching these informative videos. Of course, the view from Harrison State Park was spectacular.

The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania!

We drove on many dirt roads around and over the mountains in the Pine Creek Gorge of Pennsylvania. By the time we returned home, we had slow leaks in two tires and needed to purchase a whole new set for our Yaris and a new fuse for our cigarette lighter in the car. The reason why the cigarette lighter is so important is because the GPS is connected to it. No working cigarette lighter; no working GPS. For us. And in the middle of the canyon and mountains, with few roads, a GPS is essential. We obtained a hardcopy of a map of the area to help us get around. Another essential for driving in unfamiliar areas.   

Thanks so much for reading Camping with Five Kids. We were truly off the grid on this trip. No cell phone. No internet. I’ll continue our adventures next month.

Do you mind hiking into the clouds on a mountaintop if you can’t see the valley beyond? Would you take a hike in nature if the leaves were all soggy and you couldn’t crunch? This one was difficult for me. I’m a born “cruncher.” I tested every leaf I found on the ground, hoping to hear even a faint crunch.

I pick up the bright leaves I find on my walks at home and decorate my dining room table with them. Do you do that?

We’re looking forward to some dryer and cooler weather. How about you? Happy [still?] autumn.

6 thoughts on “Hike into the Clouds: The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania”

    • Yes it does, Alex, however… I still like hard copies of things. Like maps, manuscripts I’m working on, books to read. Yep! I’m a tree hugger who likes to hug physical books, too.

      All best to you, sir! Thanks for reading Camping with Five Kids.

  1. Sometimes the weather does not cooperate, but it does not ruin the adventure it just changes it’s character. A dry day may change to a landscape of cascading water or misty hill sides presenting a vastly different experience.

  2. You are so right, Bill Marshall! It can be a different adventure each visit you make. This is why my husband and I plan to return to the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. It is truly a spectacular place to hike in any season.

    Thank you so much for sharing your insight here at Camping with Five Kids. All best to you, sir!

  3. How nostalgic! We loved off-roading and camping when we lived in Utah. Every canyon in Utah has a different personality.

    Then we moved to Central Texas. No mountains! Um, how does one camp without the lovely vista of the mountains? Plus, Texas in the summer is ghastly! Eeeek!

    I have 5 kids too! My question is: how do you write with five kids around? Do they actually let you write? Aaaack!

    ♥.•*¨Elizabeth Mueller¨*•.♥

    • Hello and welcome to Camping with Five Kids, Elizabeth! I’m so glad you’re here. So cool, you have 5 kids too! The answer is, no. I cannot write with five kids in the house. The good news is they have *finally* all left. The bad news is, they visit or call daily. Sheesh!

      We’ve camped in Utah with the kids in a pop-up trailer. With no air conditioning. In the summer. When the kids weren’t in school. We visited Zion, Bryce, and Arches National Parks. Utah is gorgeous. There’s so much to see in this beautiful country. We haven’t gotten to visit Texas. Yet.

      Have a beautiful week, Elizabeth! Thanks for visiting. Please stop by again!


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