On the west rim of Pine Creek Gorge, the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, the 368-acre Colton Point State Park resonates with the rustic charm of the Civilian Conservation Corps era of the 1930s. The rugged overlooks offer great views of the canyon. On the other side of the canyon is Leonard Harrison State Park.
About 100 picnic tables are available for year-round use. There are also five, reservable pavilions throughout the park.
Fishing is available to those visitors who wish to make the long, steep hike to the bottom of the canyon to Pine Creek. Species include trout, smallmouth bass and panfish. Nearby trout streams include Marsh Creek, Stoney Fork Creek, Asaph Run, Straight Run and Four-Mile Run, which is along the Turkey Path Trail. Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission regulations apply.
Hiking: 4 miles of trails
The trails traverse very rugged terrain, passing close to many steep cliffs, and may have slippery surfaces. Stay on designated trail surfaces and wear appropriate footwear.
Do not overestimate your ability or stamina; think “Safety First” and take your time to enjoy your experience. Avoid the temptation to get on rock overhangs for a better view. Stay behind the railings and fences.
Rim Trail: 1 mile
Not to be confused with the West Rim Trail, Rim Trail follows the perimeter of the ‘point’ and links all of the overlook view areas together into a wonderfully and mostly flat hike.
Turkey Path: difficult hiking - 3 miles, down and back
This difficult trail descends 1.5 miles to the floor of the canyon. The highlight is a 70-foot cascading waterfall less than 0.5-mile down. It is a down and back trail. There is no bridge across Pine Creek at the bottom.
Pine Creek Trail:
The 62-mile Pine Creek Trail is a multi-use trail for hiking, bicycling, and cross-country skiing. Located at the bottom of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, one mile of this trail is in Leonard Harrison and Colton Point state parks. Horseback riding is only permitted on the dirt access road immediately beside the Pine Creek Trail for a nine-mile length from Ansonia to Tiadaghton. Horseback riding is not permitted on the limestone gravel trail. The Horseback trailhead is along Marsh Creek Road near the junction of US 6 and PA 362 at Ansonia.
The opportunities for sightseeing are endless. Trail users can view dramatic rock outcrops, waterfalls, and wildlife like, eagle, osprey, coyote, deer, wild turkey, heron, river otter, black bear and many others. Diverse plant life, scattered old-growth timber, historic pine and spruce plantations, and several foundations from the Civilian Conservation Corps era can be found along the trail.
Stay the Night
Camping: vault toilets
The campground is open from the second Friday in May until the third Sunday in October. Rustic toilets, tables, fire rings and a sanitary dump station are provided. Campsites at Colton Point are not reservable but are available first-come, first-served. Pets are prohibited.
Free Camping for Campground Hosts: 1 host position
The campground host site currently does not provide any amenities. Hosts are required to assist park personnel for 40 hours per week. A two-week minimum stay is required. Contact the park office for additional information and availability.
Organized Group Tenting:
Qualified adult and youth groups may use this 90-person capacity area from the second Friday in April to the third Sunday in October, weather permitting. It is equipped with picnic tables. Advance reservations are recommended. This area is rustic in nature and so no vehicles are permitted in the camping area.
Explore the Winter Report for the current snow and ice depths.
Registered snowmobiles may use the trail network on state forest land daily after the close of the deer season in December. The park provides parking, picnic tables and restrooms.
ATVs are not considered snowmobiles.
Environmental Education and Interpretation
An environmental interpretor presents resource-oriented programs and interpretive walks April through October. Major topics and seasonal programs include: Watershed Education, astronomy, fall color, old-fashioned cider squeezing and summer campfire programs. Educational information is available at the visitor center or park office.
The environmental interpretive center, at the Leonard Harrison main overlook entrance, is open during the summer season through the fall foliage season. A video and educational displays interpret the area and its wildlife. Call the park office for visitor center hours or to schedule an appointment for your group tour.
Leonard Harrison and Colton Point state parks are on opposite sides of Pine Creek Gorge, called the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. Many scenic vistas offer spectacular views into the 800-foot deep, glacially-carved canyon. The scenery at these parks is superb in every season of the year and is especially stunning in late September through mid-October. The large abundance of deciduous hardwood trees display beautiful autumn shades of yellow, orange, red and purple. Pockets of evergreen trees provide a dash of green year-round.
The “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania” begins just south of Ansonia, along US 6 and continues south for about 47 miles. At its deepest point, Pine Creek Gorge is 1450 feet deep and nearly one mile wide. At Leonard Harrison and Colton Point state parks, the depth of the canyon is about 800 feet and these parks have the most spectacular scenic overlooks.
Many recreational opportunities are available in the Canyon. Some of these activities are regulated by the Bureau of State Parks or by the Bureau of Forestry, which have slightly different rules and regulations. Visitors can hike, mountain bike, horseback ride, fish, seasonally whitewater boat, hunt, camp and birdwatch.
Human Influence on the Canyon
American Indians used the Pine Creek Gorge as a major travel route. Pine Creek Trail follows the same general route as the original path. Just north of the park at Ansonia was a seasonal hunting camp.
The lumbering of the native white pine and later, the hemlock and assorted hardwoods, led to the settlement of this area. Logs were floated in huge rafts each spring to mills at Williamsport. Lumber from this area helped to make Williamsport the lumber capital of the world in the 1880s. Hemlock bark was peeled and hauled to several local tanneries to turn hides into leather. By the 1900s only a few small areas of native forest were untouched in all of Pennsylvania.
Due to the mass deforestation, massive forest fires, and unregulated hunting and trapping, the wildlife populations declined greatly in the Commonwealth. White-tailed deer, beaver, and elk were reintroduced to the state in the early 1900s. More recent additions to the canyon include the reintroduction of river otters in 1983 and the reintroduction of fishers in the mid 1990s. Bald eagles, once an endangered species, began nesting in the gorge in the late 1980s.
Prior to being a world-class multi-use trail, Pine Creek Trail was an active railroad. The Jersey Shore, Pine Creek and Buffalo Railroad began in 1883 by carrying timber to the sawmills in Tiadaghton, Cammal, and Slate Run. The railroad also transported coal north to New York State and vast amounts of hemlock bark to several local tanneries for use in the leather industry. By 1896, the railroad was carrying seven million tons of freight and three passenger trains on daily runs between Wellsboro Junction and Williamsport.
The railroad changed hands several times and was eventually taken over by Conrail. The last train passed through the canyon on October 7, 1988. Today, the rail line has taken on a new life as a part of the state’s extensive network of railtrails.
In 1968, 12 miles of the canyon were designated a National Natural Landmark by the U. S. Department of the Interior. In 1993, the Canyon became a State Park Natural Area, which will protect it in a natural state for future generations. In 1992, Pine Creek was designated a Pennsylvania Scenic River.
Colton Point was named in the late 1800s for Henry Colton, a lumberman who supervised harvesting of trees in the area. Logs were floated down Pine Creek to sawmills in Williamsport. The park was established from state forest lands purchased in the early 1900s.
Colton Point State Park was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) from 1933 to 1936 and opened to the public in 1936. The CCC’s contributions are still visible today through the five stone and timber pavilions in the park. Three of the five pavilions have fireplaces. In 1988, the CCC built facilities were added to the National Register of Historic Places.
c/o Leonard Harrison, Wellsboro, PA 16901-8970