One of the premier rail-trails in the Northeast, the Pine Creek Rail Trail in Pine Creek Gorge offers travelers a spectacular 62-mile journey through the area commonly referred to as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. With numerous trailheads, comfort stations, campgrounds, and small towns along the route, the well-maintained trail is ideal for an afternoon excursion or a longer trek. The trail is finely crushed limestone best suited for hybrids or mountain bikes.
The Jersey Shore, Pine Creek & Buffalo Railroad began operating here in 1883, carrying timber to sawmills in towns along the floor of the gorge. The railroad also transported coal north to New York State. The last freight train passed through in October 1988. A few of the old stone mile makers from its railroad heyday still appear along the trail, and interpretive panels about the region’s railroad and logging history can be found at the Darling Run and Tiadaghton trailheads.
For railroad buffs, Tioga Central Railroad, a still-active line heading north from Wellsboro Junction, offers seasonal excursions to Lake Hammond and the outskirts of Corning, New York. Its train station lies across the street from the northern terminus of the rail-trail.
From Wellsboro Junction, the rail-trail heads south to Jersey Shore with a barely imperceptible slope downhill from north to south. The route traverses Tioga and Tiadaghton state forests, which offer numerous hiking trails to complement a bike trip on the rail-trail.
For nearly its entire length, the trail hugs Pine Creek, offering great views of the water and dramatic rock outcrops, and providing access to whitewater rafting, kayaking, and canoeing in the spring. Fishing, especially for trout, is another popular use of the creek. You may be lucky enough to see an eagle, osprey, coyote, or even a black bear on the hillsides adjacent to the trail. Other wildlife can also be spotted in the gorge, including deer, wild turkeys, herons, hawks, river otters, and beavers.
Horseback riding is allowed on portions of the trail. To use the hard-packed dirt path beside the trail between Ansonia and Tiadaghton, equestrians should park at the Ansonia trailhead. Here, you can also catch a horse-drawn wagon ride which goes down the trail for a few miles and then back to the trailhead.
There are many other access points along the route. Several access points with parking are located south of Blackwell along Route 414. The parking lot at Rattlesnake Rock is a popular drop location for canoe and bicycle shuttle services. Another large parking lot is located at the southern end of the trail just north of Waterville.
To reach the northern trailhead from US 6, where it meets PA 287 north of Wellsboro, turn left to travel north on PA 287 and then turn left on Patten Road. The trailhead is on the left beyond the ice cream shop.
The reach the southern trailhead from US 220 in Jersey Shore from Lock Haven, take US 220 and exit at Thomas Street; at the top of the hill, turn right at the stop sign then head down hill to the first traffic light. Turn right onto Railroad and go two blocks; the trailhead, restrooms, and parking lot is on your right.
From Williamsport to Jersey Shore, take US 220 and exit at Thomas Street; go up the ramp to the stop sign, turn left, go over the overpass and proceed down hill to first traffic light; turn right onto Railroad Street and go two blocks to the trailhead on your right.
There are numerous other access points along the trail's route.