Pennsylvania Grand Canyon a dreamland for exciting outdoor pursuits
I’ve just returned from my annual week-long trip to Tioga County to partake of the first week of spring gobbler season and pitch and lob various insect imitations into the waters of the Big Pine Creek for the big stream’s trout.
The canyon, also known as the Pine Creek Gorge, is a 47-mile-long chasm that was formed over eons of time as the Big Pine flowed through a huge plateau. The resulting deep walls that now shadow the Pine are a majestic sight themselves, and the various vista-viewing spots along the top portion are popular destinations to gauge just how large and deep the canyon truly is.
The Pine Creek Rail Trail, an old railroad bed that has been converted into a crushed-stone passageway open to any means of travel that does not utilize a motor, is a 62-mile-long run from near Route 6 in Tioga County to Jersey Shore in Lycoming County, and skirts the Big Pine along its entire length through the canyon.
Hikers, joggers, occasional horseback riders and many cyclists — scores of those with fishing rods as part of their travel gear — utilize the rail trail for an experience free of any motorized vehicles.
Specifically for hunters and fishermen, the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon offers a unique feel in both its solitude and beauty.
Over 160,000 acres of state forest land surround Pine Creek, offering an abundance of varied landscapes that include steep mountainsides, sprawling flats and narrow ravines that widen as they drop toward mountain bases. With little in the way of dirt roads that partition the huge extent of forest land, there are plenty of remote spots that adventurous hunters can walk to that will offer them plenty of space free of other hunters, and an excellent chance of bagging a gobbler if they visit in the spring.
For anglers, the Big Pine is a superb choice to find quality fishing within settings that have a big western river feel. My number one trout-fishing destination, the Big Pine offers plenty of places for wading and casting a fly-rod, with enough room for back casts where hooking shoreline objects is never a problem.
A relatively new Delayed Harvest section has been established near the Darling Run area of the stream (The above photo is of a fisherman enjoying that section), and this year both the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission and local sportsmen clubs have stocked this section with plenty of trophy-sized trout.
Insect hatches are abundant on the Pine, and my favorites the green and slate drakes hatches, in later spring, are reason enough to come and fish and enjoy a spectacle that has to be witnessed to be believed.
Pennsylvanians are lucky that such a wonderful recreational area exists within our state boarders, one with a huge supply of stunning beauty, and one that also promises unparalleled seclusion. Come for a visit. You can camp, fish or hunt, plus canoe or raft the Big Pine. Explore via a bike or even a horse, or just plain walk or run into the Canyon. You may see deer or bear, turkey or eagle, soaring vultures and hawks, otter or fisher, just about any wildlife that calls the wilds of Pennsylvania home.
But the one thing you won’t see is dissatisfied visitors.