I visited the Pine Creek Gorge from my normal west coast stomping grounds and quickly discovered I was oblivious to three things: there’s another Grand Canyon, east coasters have this incredible hobby called “leaf-peeping”, and Pennsylvania is a beautiful hiking destination! As we drove to the trailhead I was struck by the colorful fall leaves, and became even more excited to see a sign pointing us to the “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania”!
Our destination was the West Rim Trail, a 30-mile thru-hike towering above the Pine Creek Gorge carving through Tioga State Forest. This is a great trail for new and experienced backpackers alike – the terrain is moderate and the views unique. And for me, it was a great opportunity to try out my rain gear! The trail can be hiked in either direction and the profile will be similar. If you can only do one half, I found the northern section more scenic with plenty of vistas and more reliable water sources.
We were on the trail for 3.5 days although for our first night we only camped about 1 mile in since we got a late start. Click on an itinerary photo to read a detailed description of that day and see all of my photos.
Dates hiked: 10/7/16 to 10/10/16
Permits are not required to hike the West Rim Trail so long as backpackers do not spend more than one night at any site. Only primitive camping is allowed, and no camping is allowed at either terminus or the Bradley Wells Picnic Area.
As far as thru-hikes go the logistics for the West Rim Trail are very tame! The trailheads are only a 30-minute drive apart in Ansonia and Blackwell.
Since we planned to start at the southern terminus we headed for Ansonia first to drop off our return car. We headed down from New York State via US-15 S, exited at PA-287 S, and then took US-6 W into Ansonia. The northern terminus parking area is located just outside of town on Colton Road.
We continued in the second car back to Ansonia and followed routes 362 E, 660 E, 287 S, and finally 414 W through Blackwell. We found the parking area for the southern terminus a few minutes outside of Blackwell (past Pine Creek) on the south side of the road. The trailhead is just across the street from the parking lot, clearly marked with a West Rim Trail sign.
The following is a list of gear necessary for Tioga State Forest that may not be required on other trips.