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The PA Grand Canyon Offers History, Arts, and Recreation

The Pine Creek Gorge, commonly referred to as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, is surrounded by approximately 165,000 acres of the Tioga State Forest, making it a perfect vacation destination. Embrace breathtaking views, culture, artisans, hiking, biking, hunting, and more.

“Potter and Tioga Counties have something for everyone, from outdoor adventures with stunning views to quaint shops, artisans, and activities,” said Colleen Hanson, Executive Director of Visit Potter-Tioga, the area Visitors Bureau. “Be sure to stop at the full-service visitors center, five miles from Leonard Harrison State Park, to gather maps and brochures.”

Located in the Tioga State Forest, the Pine Creek Gorge, also known as the Grand Canyon of PA, stretches for over 45 miles with depths of nearly 1500 feet. It features exquisitely forested views and steep canyon walls. Leonard Harrison State Park offers must-see scenic vistas on the east side of the canyon. The park provides easy-to-navigate walkways to viewing areas where you will enjoy more canyon walls and waterfalls.

Colton Point State Park brings charm to 368 acres with its rugged pavilions and overlooks. It is full of the history and rustic charm of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) era of the 1930s. You will find interpretative signage and a statue of a CCC worker. The CCC work Statute is a series spread across multiple US States, intending to educate Americans on the legacy of the CCC and the value of natural resource conservation and stewards of public land.

One of the most popular attractions to the PA Grand Canyon is the Pine Creek Rail Trail, often called the “Jewel of the Gorge.” This trail was converted from a railroad bed traveling along the Pine Creek Gorge at the canyon’s floor. USA Today has named Pine Creek Rail Trail one of the ten great places to take a bike tour worldwide. The trail offers easy pedaling for low impact and is also a multi-use trail for hiking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing. 

Take a scenic tour along the bottom of the canyon on a large, covered wagon led by a beautiful and majestic team of Belgian draft horses and embark on a beautiful scenic ride to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Close your eyes, take in all of nature’s sounds, such as birds chirping and animals stirring, and then open your eyes and add beauty to what you hear. Listen as your tour guide tells of the history throughout this two-hour tour.

Sightseeing opportunities are endless on this trail, from dramatic rock outcrops, waterfalls, and wildlife such as coyote, deer, wild turkey, heron, river otter, black bear, eagle, and more. Several foundations from the CCC can be found along the trail, adding a touch of history.

Enjoy one of the eight Potter and Tioga County lakes, including Tioga, Hammond, Cowanesque, Hills Creek Lake, Hamilton, Lyman Run, Nessmuk, and Beechwood. The smaller lakes offer motorless boating and fishing. As where the larger lakes are known for boating, swimming, fishing, camping, hunting, and more.

Explore Cherry Springs State Park and enjoy stargazing like never before. The park is rated as one of the seven best places in the world for stargazing. On a clear night, around 30,000 stars fill the sky. Keep your eyes open for a glimpse of Asteroids, Venus (the evening star), Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights), Meteor Showers, and more. The discoveries are endless. Private guided star tours and photography workshops are offered.

Potter and Tioga counties offer more than just outdoor life. Take in a movie at the Coudersport Theatre or the Arcadia Theater. Both were built in the early 1920s and have an old-time theater feel but with an updated digital movie system showing newly released movies. In 1941, Joan Crawford visited the Coudersport theater remove on the same evening her film,” A Woman’s Face,” was showing.

Discover the Eliot Ness Museum, which celebrates his career as an American Prohibition agent known for his efforts to bring down notorious gangster, Al Capone. There is fun for the whole family.

A favorite destination since 1955 is the Black Forest Trading Post & The Deer Park. Visitors will find souvenirs, traditional Irish items, jewelry, Minnetonka Moccasins, gem mining, ice cream, gourmet coffees, and more. Find all your needs for cycling, archery, paddling, and outdoor adventure gear. The Deer Park does not carry the equipment, but they take the time to ensure one understands the use and is fitted correctly.

Visit other attractions such as The Coudersport Arboretum, featuring a botanical variety, and Veterans Honor Wall; Draper’s Super Bee Apiaries, where you can observe beehives and purchase honey and other products; The Gmeiner Art and Cultural Center highlighting local artists and more; Cream n Sugar serves Penn State Creamery Ice Cream, artisanal coffee, candy and more.

The Pennsylvania Lumber Museum is a fun and educational experience for the whole family. Step back in time and discover the courageous yet reckless spirit of PA’s lumbering past. Interactive exhibits include swinging an ax, sawing a tree, piloting a log raft, and racing locomotives. Head outdoors to see the exquisite 10-acre campus including a re-recreated early 20th-century lumber camp, locomotives, and historic log cabins.

Stop by the Corning Museum of Glass and watch live glass demonstrations. Make your own glass and enjoy hands-on glass exhibits and stunning glass art collections. Kids are free.

Potter and Tioga Counties have plenty of lodging from camping, cabins, lodges, motels, and bed and breakfasts. Check out Sherwood Motel, located in the middle of the PA Grand Canyon, and the Canyon Motel, located within walking distance of Main Street.

Whether you are a hiker, biker, hunter, nature enthusiast, bird watcher, history buff, festival goer, etc., there is something for everyone (young and mature) in Potter and Tioga Counties.

For more information on Potter and Tioga Counties, the PA Grand Canyon, or the Dark Skies at Cherry Springs State Park, visit

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