After being cooped up for months, we decided to take our first Covid-era road trip. Wellsboro is a small town in north-central Pennsylvania a stones throw from the New York state line. It also is a few miles from the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, which has a nice bike trail. As avid bikers, we thought that this would be a great day trip. So off we go to Wellsboro.
Wellsboro is the county seat of Tioga County, one of the less populated counties in PA. It has a very quaint downtown with a large village green in the middle of town. We checked in to the Penn Wells Lodge right on main street for our first night away from home since the lockdown back in March. We dragged our bikes up the stairs into our room, and set out to explore the town. This did not take long. A few blocks down main street took us to a beautiful little park where a statue graces a fountain in the center. The statue depicts characters in a poem by Eugene Fields Wynken’, Blinken’, and Nod is a children’s bedtime story in poem form.
Just down the road from the green is the Wellsboro Diner which was also our first meal out since the lockdown began.
We walked by the Tioga County Courthouse, and that was about it for Wellsboro. It was time to bike the canyon.
The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania
The Appalachian mountains pass right through the center of Pennsylvania. In many cases, long, straight ridges run parallel for miles with steep valleys in between. Probably the most spectacular of these is located right outside Wellsboro where the Pine Creek runs fairly straight for about 20 miles through one of these steep valleys. Now please don’t try to compare this to the Grand Canyon way out west. Pine Creek will never be confused with the Colorado River. And the ridges of the canyon are about 2000 ft instead of 5000 ft. Still, it is a very impressive place, and the good folks of this area were kind enough to convert the railway that ran through the canyon into a very nice bike trail.
Now we are avid bikers, not crazy bikers. About 20 miles a day is right about our limit. So we hooked up with Pine Creek Outfitters, a local company who for $50 picked up our car at the start of the trail, and left it 20 miles away at the end of the trail. Fifty dollars well spent!
The next right thing we did was to download a couple of hours of good tunes onto our phones, and to fire up the bluetooth speaker. Then away we go!
We did the ride from north to south since it seemed like we were going down hill. The trail is essentially flat, and for the first few miles, there is a parallel track for touring via horse-drawn covered wagon. The trail follows Pine Creek, which is quite lovely.
About half way, we stopped at the Tiadaghton campground for lunch.
Right at the campground, the trail from the rim reaches the canyon floor.
After about 17 miles, you finally rejoin civilization in the small town of Blackwell. There is a store there, but by then we just wanted to get to the end.
Just a mile or two past Blackwell is the Rattlesnake Rocks swimming area. The water was a little low for swimming, and we really wanted to get back to our hotel room in Wellsboro and hit the showers. The car was parked exactly where they said it would be.
The next day would find us actually crossing over into New York to visit Watkins Glen State Park. But that is another post.
Our day trip to Wellsboro and the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania was certainly grand. Also, it showed us that life in 2020 did indeed go on outside of our little bubble. I highly recommend this trip to anyone looking for a ray of sanity in an otherwise insane world.