Skip to main content

Turkey Path in Leonard Harrison State Park, Wellsboro, PA

I love riding rails to trails for their history, safety, and unique features. I’ve rode miles and miles in New England and Pennsylvania.

Little Four Mile Run waterfall along Turkey Path Trail, Leonard Harrison State Park in Wellsboro, PA

Little Four Mile Run waterfall along Turkey Path Trail, Leonard Harrison State Park in Wellsboro, PA

Hiking in the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania

Turkey Path in Leonard Harrison State Park is one route to Pine Creek and the bottom of Pine Creek Gorge. While not anywhere near as long as Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon, it is nearly as steep. This down-and-back one-mile trail drops over 800 feet in elevation.

At the bottom of the gorge, Turkey Path connects to both Pine Creek and a multi-use rail trail. On the west shore of Pine Creek, in Colton Point State Park, Turkey Path continues, however, there is no bridge over the water to connect the two trails.

Pine Creek Gorge, the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania in the fall

Pine Creek Gorge, the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania in the fall

Turkey Path Trail Sign

Turkey Path Trail Sign

Turkey Path

The mile-long Turkey Path in Leonard Harrison State Park descends over 800 feet as it courses from the rim to the canyon floor. A very strenuous hike, the round trip can still be easily accomplished in less than two hours. Hikers should be prepared with sturdy shoes and an adequate supply of water.

From the rim overlook patio that's just past the visitor's center, Turkey Path starts out with a deceptive gentle grade. This easy walk soon gets more aggressive as the trail becomes a series of switchbacks.

Each outside turn of the switchbacks creates an overlook with majestic views up and down the gorge as well as to the west and Colton Point State Park. Stop for a photo, rest, or refreshment, but remember to carry out everything you carry in.

About halfway down, the trail begins to parallel Little Four Mile Run and its series of waterfalls. In 1978 a vista was built here at the upper falls by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Deep in a mixed forest, with sunlight breaking through the canopy, the waterfalls provide a beautiful backdrop for a short rest on your way down or back.

With steep descents and to prevent erosion, in 1993, the CCC completed the construction of wooden decks, steps, and railings on the lower portions of the trail. While the footing is sure, the climb is still strenuous. Please stay on the trail for your own safety and to prevent damage to vegetation or further erosion of the canyon walls.

Before starting the return hike, I recommend taking a moment to relax on one of the benches along the Pine Creek rail trail and enjoy the sights and sounds of Pine Creek Gorge.

Pine Creek Gorge

Leonard Harrison and Colton Point State Parks have been described as "two state parks divided by a Canyon." With Leonard Harrison on the east and Colton Point on the west, Pine Creek and the over 800-foot-deep canyon runs between the two.

Turkey Path takes hikers from the rim of either state park to the creek and canyon floor below. Both parks have a trail that shares the same name but don't be fooled. The trails are not connected. When the creek level is low and the water calm, Pine Creek could be forded, but there is no bridge that connects the two paths.

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Skyaboveus

Pine Creek Trail, a 62-mile multi-purpose trail on an old rail bed, follows along with Pine Creek as it courses its way through the gorge. The trail is great for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing.

Pine Creek itself offers plenty of opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, and whitewater rafting.

Leonard Harrison State Park

Ten miles west of Wellsboro, PA, on PA 660, Leonard Harrison State Park is located on the east rim of Pine Creek Gorge.

Vistas from the paved overlook outside the visitor's center offer the best views of the full canyon (some steps are required to reach the most distant observation points). In addition to Turkey Path, a 0.6-mile loop trail, Overlook Trail, includes a vista looking south and an inland portion that meanders past an old incinerator.

A monument near the visitor's center serves as a tribute to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and their contributions to the development and maintenance of the park.

Modern picnicking and camping facilities are available from mid-April to mid-October. The facilities include picnic tables, shelters, showers, drinking water, trash bins, and flush toilets.

The park has a seasonal visitor's center/gift shop, vending machines, and public toilets.

Colton Point State Park

Six miles south of U.S. Route 6 and Ansonia, PA, on Colton Road, Colton Point State Park is located along the west rim of the canyon.

Rim Trail (not the West Rim Trail, which runs several miles along the rim of the gorge) is a relatively flat one-mile loop trail that follows the perimeter of the point and provides several great overlooks with views of the canyon.

Turkey Path in this park is a three-mile down and back hike with a 70-foot waterfall on Four Mile Run about 0.5 miles down. Just remember that there's no bridge across Pine Creek to connect to the Turkey Paths and other parks.

Picnic areas, rustic campsites, and a group tent campsite are available from mid-April to mid-October. These are more rustic than the facilities in Leonard Harrison State Park. Tables, rustic toilets, fire rings, and a sanitary dump station are available, but there are no flush toilets, drinking water, or showers.

Snowmobiles may be used on the trails in state forest land in the winter.

Grand Canyon Survey

© 2013 Mark Shulkosky


Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on August 08, 2015:

You're very welcome Bankscottage.

Mark Shulkosky (author) from Pennsylvania on August 08, 2015:

Kristen, thank you for the nice comments and vote. Glad you enjoyed the Hub

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on August 07, 2015:

Beautiful photos for this park's travelogue. Very nicely described for a voted up!

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on June 04, 2015:

Wow, just beautiful! I'll have to stop by next time I'm in PA.

Mark Shulkosky (author) from Pennsylvania on September 24, 2013:

Annart, thanks for visiting and your comments. The path really wasn't that close to the edge. It is really an enjoyable area, particularly in autumn with the trees changing colors.

Ann Carr from SW England on September 24, 2013:

What an amazing area! I wish I lived on your side of the pond when I see this kind of thing. Beautiful photos and such a clear description of the trail. I'm not great on paths which go close to a big drop but I might steel myself for this one! Up, useful, interesting, beautiful and shared.

Mark Shulkosky (author) from Pennsylvania on May 30, 2013:

Dan, I am not that adventurous. I am thinking about an AT "challenge". Maybe try 3 states in 8 hours. I could start in MD, cross the bridge into WV. Have lunch in Harper's Ferry and then head on out to VA. Get over to the B and B, shower, and then enjoy a nice dinner in a restaurant. Seems like all I would have to pack is my Visa card ;)

Seriously, the Grand Canyon of NY is on my list to get to soon.

Mark Shulkosky (author) from Pennsylvania on May 30, 2013:

Glimmer Twin Fan, hope you get to the Grand Canyon of PA soon (or maybe wait until October for fall foliage). It could be a great weekend getaway. Would love to see your pictures if you go.

Glad you enjoyed the Hub.

Claudia Porter on May 30, 2013:

Living in NW PA this is a nice drive for us. We have been to this area once and would love to go back. Your hub has inspired me to convince my husband to get reservations. Great photos and info.

Dan Human from Niagara Falls, NY on May 29, 2013:

Well everything is better with fire!

Speaking of Grand Canyons, try to make the trip to Zoar Valley in NY.

I just got the trail guide for the Black Forest Loop and it looks really interesting - I may tackle it this year.

I've hiked a few hundred miles on the NCT here in NY and a bit in PA. The ANF section of the NCT is really awesome, especially around Minister Valley. I just did about 16 miles of the trail a few weeks ago. I've seen the promotion for the 100 in 48 hours, but I don't think I could make it. I'm the master of the 2-day 50 mile backpacking trip, but 100 is pushing it a bit for me.

Maybe someday I'll try it.

Mark Shulkosky (author) from Pennsylvania on May 28, 2013:

Not sure where the name for the trail came from MsDora. It is not a 'turkey' of a trail and I saw no turkey on it. Glad you enjoyed the pictures.

Mark Shulkosky (author) from Pennsylvania on May 28, 2013:

Dan, glad you enjoyed the pictures and the Hub. It is a great little hike, particularly if you like waterfalls (it would be even better if it had an eternal flame). I've been trying to see as many 'grand canyons' as I can. I have seen most of the ones on my list.

I have not hiked on the Black Forest Loop (hadn't heard of it until you mentioned it). It is in the same area and, from an elevation profile it looks somewhat like the AT in NH and VT, steep but not as much change in elevation (1000 to 1500 feet rather than 2000 to 3000 in New England). I'd have to get in better shape to do that one (and spend a little time looking for B and Bs in the area to sleep in).

Now a question for you. Have you hiked on the North Country National Scenic Trail (part of the 4600 mile trail runs thru the Allegheny National Forest)? Saw an article in the Braford, Pa paper about the North Country Trail 100. Up to 100 people trying to hike 100 miles in 48 hours. I thought of you when I read the article. Seemed like a challenge you would like (similar to the 4 states (VA, WV, MD, PA) in 24 hours on the AT).

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on May 28, 2013:

Turkey Path is not a bad name, but it does not prepare one for the beautiful scenery, according to your pictures. Thanks for taking us along on this refreshing view.

Dan Human from Niagara Falls, NY on May 28, 2013:

Looking at your pictures, I think I hiked the Turkey Path down into the Pinecreek Gorge. However, that was several years and many miles ago. there is only one solution, I must hike it again.

Another Great Hub with wonderful and descriptive pictures.

On a separate note, have you ever done any hiking on the Black Forest loop trail in PA?


Mark Shulkosky (author) from Pennsylvania on May 28, 2013:

Thanks for stopping by and the kind comment collegedad. Looking forward to a Hub on a waterfall.

collegedad from The Upper Peninsula on May 27, 2013:

Another great hub! We were supposed to go waterfalling tomorrow, but I've been called into work. Maybe I'll share a waterfall or two before the weeks out.

Related Articles