The 13+ Best Things to do at the PA Grand Canyon

things to do at the pa grand canyon

The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, also known as the Pine Creek Gorge, is one of the most scenic destinations in all of Pennsylvania and begins just south of Ansonia in the Tioga State Forest. With gorgeous waterfalls and steep canyon walls, it offers beautiful views as far as the eye can see. One trip there and you’ll understand why families flock to this FREE destination to take in the views from the amazing vista. The maximum depth of the canyon is nearly 1,500 feet at its deepest point! We’ve put together a list of the best things to do at the PA Grand Canyon to make your trip a memorable one.

The can’t-miss stunning views are best seen at Leonard Harrison State Park and Colton Point State Park.

The history of the canyon begins when English settlers first came to the area. The Seneca Indians who once inhabited the area called the creek, “Tiadaghton”. Due to some confusion over their location, the white settlers thought the creek was Lycoming Creek and settled on the name “Pine Creek” due to a large number of trees in the area. It wasn’t long after that all those trees started to come down.

The white settlers began a process of deforestation that affected both the Seneca Indians and the wildlife inhabiting the area. Eventually, a railroad was built that further contributed to the loss of their natural habitat. Sparks from the trains ignited the bark and were the cause of many forest fires.

The last train traveled the tracks in 1988 and since then, conservationists have worked tirelessly to return the land to a prosperous space for its natural inhabitants. River otters were reintroduced to Pine Creek in the early 1980s and several birds and mammals are part of the Pine Creek Gorge Natural Area.

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13+ Things to Do at the PA Grand Canyon

There are so many things to do in the state parks, but did you know that there are a lot of family-friendly activities just outside the PA Grand Canyon, too? Here’s our list of 17+ things to do at Pennsylvania’s favorite National Natural Landmark, the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.

Explore the Visitor Center

If it’s your first time traveling to the PA Grand Canyon, we recommend starting at Leonard Harrison State Park where you’ll find plenty of parking, modern facilities, a gift shop, and a small visitors center where you can pick up maps and other educational materials. There are picnic areas available and also a food truck on-site that operates seasonally.

If you’re traveling with small children, there are a lot of things to do at the PA Grand Canyon from the vista including taking in that amazing view. The kids will like looking for birds and wildlife, seeing some of the (stuffed) wildlife in the visitors center, and walking the small loop. Save the hiking trips for when the children are old enough to handle rough terrain.

Shop the PA Wilds Conservation Gift Shop

The PA Wilds Conservation Shop operates inside of Leonard Harrison State Park seasonally from mid-April until the end of October when they close for late fall and winter. Around 90% of the products sold in the PA Wilds Gift Shops are made right in this Pennsylvania region.

Hike & Bike the 62-Mile Pine Creek Rail Trail

If you love hiking and mountain biking, then you’ll want to take an opportunity to jump on the Pine Creek Rail Trail. The rail trail is a converted railroad bed that runs the length of Pine Creek Gorge at the foot of the canyon. It covers 62 miles of trails with plenty of ways to explore it — by bicycle, hiking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing in winter, or there are even special areas for horseback riding, too.

The Pine Creek Rail Trail is perfect for anyone wanting to hike with small children because you can choose to hike just a portion of the trail. As a biking trail, there is easy access for families, too. It’s mostly flat terrain, so you won’t get in over your head with little ones in tow.

Walk the Leonard Harrison Main Lookout Hiking Trail

The 585-acre Leonard Harrison State Park is where we tell all families to go first if it’s their first time to the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. Located at the east rim of the canyon, Leonard Harrison is where you’ll find the visitors center, the modern bathroom facilities, the gift shop, and also a fantastic Main Lookout Trail that is a short and sweet 0.3-mile hike just through the stone building of the visitors center.

Wagon Ride Tour through the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon

Families visiting the PA Grand Canyon can take a Covered Wagon Ride with Ole’ Covered Wagon Tours. Pulled by a pair of horses, the wagon rides travel along Pine Creek and the Pine Creek Rail Trail offering a view that you just can’t get from anywhere else.

Go Whitewater Rafting

Pine Creek Outfitters makes it easy to spend a day whitewater rafting at the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. They have all the sporting and safety equipment that you need, as well as experienced tour guides, to take you on a whitewater rafting trip that you’ll remember for years.

Visit the Town of Wellsboro, PA

Not from Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon is the quaint and idyllic downtown Wellsboro. Teeming with shops, restaurants, and seasonal activities and events, it’s one of our favorite small towns in Pennsylvania to spend the day and visit all the local shops. There are toy stores for the kids, family-friendly eats at the local diner, plus places to pop in for a beer or glass of wine for moms and dads after a long day exploring. You’ll find Arcadia Theatre and the Tioga Central Railroad here as well. For a comprehensive list of things to do in the Wellsboro area, visit this post.

Staying the night? Check out one of Wellsboro’s historic sites, the Penn Wells Hotel. Built in 1869, it’s one of the town’s most recognizable historic landmarks.

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Be on the Lookout for Bald Eagles

No matter where you are in the thousands of acres of park, be on the lookout for Bald Eagles who frequently nest in the steep cliffs of

Hike the West Rim Trail at Colton State Park

The Rim Trail at Colton State Park is one of the easiest hikes on the west rim of the canyon. At just 1 mile long, the Rim Trail offers several vistas to enjoy the view and it’s ideal for families or people who don’t have a lot of time for a long hike.

Visit a Local Winery

Located just 20 miles south of the visitors center at Leonard Harrison State Park, you’ll find family-friendly Oregon Hill Winery in Morris, PA. On summer weekends, you’ll find Oregon Hill Winery hosting lots of live music and themed events that have face painting and activities for the kids and their specialty, PA Mountain Wine, for the adults. To find Oregon Hill, drive 18 miles south of Wellsboro, PA to Oregon Hill Road just off Route 287.

Kayak on Pine Creek

The “Upper Pine” portion of Pine Creek offers Class I-II Rapids and is good for beginners or for people looking for a relaxing kayaking trip on the water. Pine Creek Outfitters offers float trips if you’re looking for a guided tour and has equipment available to rent as well.

Go Fishing on Pine Creek

Pine Creek is a popular place to go fly fishing. It’s a great place to find Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, and Smallies. Fishing has always been a family favorite when it comes to things to do at the PA Grand Canyon. How cool is it to say you convened with nature right there with all those acres of forest?

Hike the Turkey Path Trail

I can speak from experience when I tell you that the Turkey Path Trail is not for little kids, so save this hike for a weekend away with your spouse! The Turkey Path Trail at Leonard Harrison offers scenic views of the Pine Creek Gorge as well as beautiful views of waterfalls. Hikers should wear suitable footwear because it can be slippery and slightly treacherous on the 800-foot descent to the bottom of the canyon. With the return hike, the total distance is around 2 miles. This is a down-and-back trail and as you can imagine, going down is much easier than the hike back up. There are no rides out from the bottom, so make sure you come prepared.

No matter what you choose to squeeze into a daytrip or weekend excursion to Pine Creek Gorge, we hope you found plenty of things to do at the PA Grand Canyon.

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