If you’re looking for the best things to see and do at Leonard Harrison State Park in Tioga County, you’re in the right place!
Leonard Harrison State Park is the unofficial headquarters for one of the Keystone State’s most famous natural wonders – the PA Grand Canyon!
In addition to the stunning canyon views, Leonard Harrison State Park is also where you’ll find the Turkey Path, one of the most famous hiking trails in the Pine Creek Gorge.
The park’s famous overlook area was refurbished in the summer of 2023, reopening on September 1st after a 4-month closure.
The Visitor Center at Leonard Harrison State Park will remain closed until the spring of 2024, as it too is being refurbished.
Characterized by lush forests, steep canyon walls, and breathtaking views of the meandering Pine Creek, Leonard Harrison State Park offers visitors a plethora of outdoor activities to indulge in.
History of Leonard Harrison State Park
Leonard Harrison State Park is named in honor of Leonard Harrison (1850-1929), a former lumberman and businessman from Wellsboro who owned vast amounts of land, timber, and a sawmill in the Pine Creek Gorge.
After his sawmill near Tiadaghton burned down in 1906, Harrison turned his attention to tourism.
He purchased 121 acres at the site of what is now Leonard Harrison State Park the same year his mill burned down, then developed the land into a tourist destination he called “The Lookout”.
Harrison donated “The Lookout” to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1922.
Between 1933 and 1941 the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) improved access roads and constructed many of the amenities still in use at Leonard Harrison State Park today.
A statue honoring those Civilian Conservation Corps workers stands near the main overlooks area at Leonard Harrison State Park.
Scenic Views at Leonard Harrison State Park
The same magnificent views that prompted Leonard Harrison to first buy the property in 1906 are still the biggest draw to the Leonard Harrison State Park today.
Approaching the overlook area, you’ll pass through through the Visitor Center/concessions building.
A series of man-made viewing platforms line the rim of the canyon, providing spectacular views to the north, south, and west.
A sign near one of the viewing platforms tells you what you’re looking at.
Browsing through old postcard views of the park from the 1940s and 50s, it’s interesting to note both the similarities and differences between then and now.
Certainly the damage done to the ash trees by the emerald ash borer in recent times is evident in this 2021 view below.
Until the 1980s, trains made their way up the banks of Pine Creek and through the park.
Now bicyclists traverse that same route along the Pine Creek Rail Trail.
The viewing platforms are interconnected by stone stairways.
I wouldn’t say that any particular view is better or worse than another – they’re all uniquely beautiful in their own way.
If you get to the overlook area early enough in the morning, you can catch the valley fog slowly lifting from Pine Creek far below.
The Overlook Trail at Leonard Harrison State Park
The Overlook Trail is a short hike leading to a fantastic south-facing view of the PA Grand Canyon.
The vista along the Overlook Trail is known as “Otter View”.
From here you have a picturesque view of the Pine Creek Gorge as it winds its way south into Lycoming County.
The Turkey Path at Leonard Harrison State Park
The Turkey Path is a challenging two mile round trip hike that descends 750 feet, going from the vistas up top to the banks of Pine Creek at the bottom of the PA Grand Canyon.
As you descend the Turkey Path, you’ll be walking “back in time” to the bottom of what was once an inland sea, more than 350 million years ago!
The trailhead for the Turkey Path is located close to the Visitor Center at Leonard Harrison State Park.
Along the way you will pass numerous waterfalls on Little Fourmile Run, as the stream and trail run parallel to one another for half of the hike.
The trail follows a series of switchbacks, and there are wooden stairs to aid you at some of the steepest sections.
The Turkey Path crosses the Pine Creek Rail Trail at the bottom and takes you to the edge of Pine Creek itself.
Due to the steep/slippery nature of the trail, the Turkey Path is closed between Thanksgiving and early April each year.
Other Points of Interest at Leonard Harrison State Park
George Washington Sears, an early conservationist who wrote under the pen name “Nessmuk“, lived in Wellsboro from 1844 until his death in 1890, and was the first to describe the Pine Creek Gorge.
You’ll find a PA historical marker honoring Nessmuk near the parking area in front of the Visitor Center.
Near the overlooks, you’ll also find a plaque designating the Pine Creek Gorge as a Registered Natural Landmark.
Winter at Leonard Harrison State Park
The winter views from Leonard Harrison State Park are spectacular!
While the park is open and the parking lot is plowed, the overlook area is not maintained over the winter, so this is strictly proceed at your own risk.
Furthermore, the Turkey Path and Overlook Trail are both closed in the winter, so you are restricted to the overlooks adjacent to the Visitor Center.
But if you don’t mind walking through a little bit of snow (when there is snow to be had), then visiting those overlooks is absolutely worth the effort!
Directions to Leonard Harrison State Park
The park office at Leonard Harrison State Park is located at 4797 Route 660 Wellsboro, PA 16901.
If navigate by GPS use coordinates 41.69646, -77.45473 to navigate to the parking area next to the Visitor Center, just steps away from the amazing views!
The park is open every day of the year, sunrise to sunset, with day use areas close at dusk.
The same scenes that brought curious visitors to the PA Grand Canyon decades ago…
are the same scenes that keep them coming back now.
And while lots of places are labeled “natural wonders” in the name of attracting tourists, the PA Grand Canyon at Leonard Harrison State Park truly is!
As home to some of the most famous scenic views of the canyon, Leonard Harrison State Park certainly deserves a place on your PA Bucket List!
Near Leonard Harrison’s original sawmill at Tiadaghton, you’ll find several impressive waterfalls, all located within a short distance of the Pine Creek Rail Trail.
Campbells Run Falls is a magnificent 25-foot tall waterfall featured on postcards at gift shops all around the PA Grand Canyon.
On a sunny day you may even catch a rainbow in the mist at the base of the Campbells Run Falls!
Upstream from Campbells Run Falls, you’ll find the towering Amphitheatre Falls, named so for the amphitheatre of rock surrounding it.
While the hike to Campbells Run Falls is relatively easy, getting upstream to Amphitheatre Falls is more challenging and should only be attempted by more advanced-level hikers.
The Best Trails, Vistas, and Waterfalls in the PA Grand Canyon is your guide to ALL the best natural attractions in the PA Grand Canyon.
The 10 Best Roadside Attractions Near Wellsboro will introduce you to some excellent points of interest near Wellsboro, one of the most popular tourist towns in the PA Grand Canyon.
Besides being the final resting place of Nessmuk (mentioned earlier), Wellsboro and the surrounding countryside is home to a plethora of destinations just about anyone can enjoy, regardless of age or physical abilities
The Historic Penn Wells Hotel in Wellsboro is a great place to stay when visiting Leonard Harrison State Park.
Chimney Hollow Falls, located on the western side of the Pine Creek Gorge opposite Leonard Harrison State Park, is one of the tallest waterfalls in the PA Grand Canyon.
Barbour Rock Overlook in Tioga County offers visitors an exceptional view from the west rim of the PA Grand Canyon!
Bear Run in Tioga County forms the northeastern border between Colton Point State Park and the Tioga State Forest, and is home to several magnificent, unnamed waterfalls accessed via a 0.6 mile (one-way) off-trail hike.
Colton Point State Park, directly across the Pine Creek Gorge from Leonard Harrison State Park, is home to Rexford Branch Falls.
Colton Point is also home to several exceptional roadside overlooks, with views up and down the PA Grand Canyon.
Bradley Wales Scenic View is an marvelous roadside vista 11 miles south of Colton Point State Park, on the west rim of the PA Grand Canyon.
Did you enjoy this article?
If so, be sure to like and follow PA Bucket List on Facebook, Instagram, and/or Pinterest to stay up-to-date on my latest write-ups about the best things to see and do in Pennsylvania!
Click on any of the icons below to get connected to PA Bucket List on social media.