Exploring Leonard Harrison State Park in Tioga County

Looking out over the Pine Creek Gorge at Leonard Harrison State Park.

Leonard Harrison State Park is synonymous with one of the Keystone State’s most famous natural wonders – the PA Grand Canyon!

The PA Grand Canyon as viewed from Leonard Harrison State Park on a summer morning.
The PA Grand Canyon as viewed from Leonard Harrison State Park on a summer morning.

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.

Observation area along the Turkey Path in the PA Grand Canyon.
Observation area along the Turkey Path.

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.

Portrait of Leonard Harrison, Wellsboro businessman who donated the land which became Leonard Harrison State Park in the PA Grand Canyon.
Portrait of former lumberman and businessman Leonard Harrison.

After his sawmill near Tiadaghton burned down in 1906, Harrison turned his attention to tourism.

History of the lumber town of Tiadaghton in th PIne Creek Gorge.
History of the lumber town of Tiadaghton in the PIne Creek Gorge.

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”.

Vintage postcard featuring the Concession area at Leonard Harrison State Park in the PA Grand Canyon.
Vintage postcard featuring the concessions area at 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.

Darling Run Civilian Conservation Corps Camp memorial at Leonard Harrison State Park.
Darling Run Civilian Conservation Corps Camp memorial.

A statue honoring those Civilian Conservation Corps workers stands near the main overlooks area at Leonard Harrison State Park.

Tioga County CCC Worker memorial and statue at Leonard Harrison State Park.
Tioga County CCC Worker memorial and statue.

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 big draw to the Leonard Harrison State Park today.

View to the north of the PA Grand Canyon from Leonard Harrison State Park. in Tioga County, Pennsylvania.
View to the north of the PA Grand Canyon from Leonard Harrison State Park.

Approaching the overlook area, you’ll pass through through the Visitor Center/concessions building.

The gift shop and Visitor Center at Leonard Harrison State Park in 2021.
The Visitor Center and concessions area.

A series of man-made viewing platforms line the rim of the canyon, providing spectacular views to the north, south, and west.

An observation area on the eastern rim of the PA Grand Canyon at Leonard Harrison State Park.
An observation area on the eastern rim of the PA Grand Canyon at Leonard Harrison State Park.

A sign near one of the viewing platforms tells you what you’re looking at.

Display explaining what you are looking at from the PA Grand Canyon viewing area at Leonard Harrison State Park.
Display explaining what you are looking at from the PA Grand Canyon viewing area at Leonard Harrison State Park.

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.

Vintage postcard showing one of the lower viewing areas at Leonard Harrison State Park, along the rim of the PA Grand Canyon.
Vintage postcard showing one of the viewing areas at Leonard Harrison State Park, along the eastern rim of the PA Grand Canyon.

Certainly the damage done to the ash trees by the emerald ash borer in recent times is evident in this 2021 view below.

One of the many viewing areas at Leonard Harrison State Park near Wellsboro, PA.
View from Leonard Harrison State Park in 2021.

Until the 1980s, trains made their way up the banks of Pine Creek and through the park.

Vintage postcard featuring view to the south of the PA Grand Canyon from Leonard Harrison State Park.
Vintage postcard featuring view to the south of the PA Grand Canyon from Leonard Harrison State Park.

Now bicyclists traverse that same route along the Pine Creek Rail Trail.

A view of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon from the Turkey Path.
A view of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon and Pine Creek Rail Trail from Leonard Harrison State Park..

The viewing platforms are interconnected by stone stairways.

Stairway between upper and lower viewing areas along PA Grand Canyon at Leonard Harrison State Park.
Stairway between upper and lower viewing areas.

I wouldn’t say that any particular view is better or worse than another – they’re all uniquely beautiful in their own way.

One of the scenic overlooks at Leonard Harrison State Park near Wellsboro.
One of the scenic overlooks at Leonard Harrison State Park.

The Turkey Path at Leonard Harrison State Park

The Turkey Path is a challenging two mile round trip hike that descends 750 feet from the vistas up top to the banks of Pine Creek at the bottom of the PA Grand Canyon.

Turkey Path trailhead at Leonard Harrison State Park in Tioga County.
Turkey Path trailhead at Leonard Harrison State Park in Tioga County.

The trailhead for the Turkey Path is located close to the Visitor Center at Leonard Harrison State Park.

A map of the Turkey Path Trail at Leonard Harrison State Park.
A map of the Turkey Path.

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.

Waterfalls near the intersection of the Turkey Path and the Pine Creek Rail Trail.
Waterfalls near the intersection of the Turkey Path and the Pine Creek Rail Trail.

The trail follows a series of switchbacks, and there are wooden stairs to aid you at some of the steepest sections.

Navigating the steps along the Turkey Path at Leonard Harrison State Park.
Navigating the steps along the Turkey Path.

The Turkey Path crosses the Pine Creek Rail Trail at the bottom and takes you to the edge of Pine Creek itself.

Pine Creek as viewed from the bottom of the Turkey Path.
Pine Creek as viewed from the bottom of the Turkey Path.

Due to the steep/slippery nature of the trail, the Turkey Path is closed between Thanksgiving and early April each year.

Hiking to the top of the Turkey Path at Leonard Harrison State Park.
Hiking back to the top of the Turkey Path.

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.

A Nessmuk quote on a display at Colton Point State Park near Wellsboro.
A Nessmuk quote.

You’ll find a PA historical marker honoring Nessmuk near the parking area in front of the Visitor Center.

Nessmuk historical marker at Leonard Harrison State Park.
Nessmuk historical marker at Leonard Harrison State Park.

Near the overlooks, you’ll also find a plaque designating the Pine Creek Gorge as a Registered Natural Landmark.

Pine Creek Gorge Registered Natural Landmark laque at Leonard Harrison State Park.
Pine Creek Gorge Registered Natural Landmark plaque at Leonard Harrison State Park.

Winter at Leonard Harrison State Park

The winter views from Leonard Harrison State Park are spectacular!

Northern view of the PA Grand Canyon on a winter day.
Northern view of the PA Grand Canyon on a winter day.

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.

Winter rules at Leonard Harrison State Park in Tioga County, PA
Winter rules at Leonard Harrison State Park.

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.

The Turkey Path Trailhead at Leonard Harrison State Park on a winter day.
The Turkey Path Trailhead at Leonard Harrison State Park on a winter day.

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!

The PA Grand Canyon looking south, towards Bradley Wales Scenic View.
The PA Grand Canyon looking south from Leonard Harrison State Park, towards Bradley Wales Scenic View.

In fact, I did an entire separate article describing a terrific PA Grand Canyon winter road trip agenda.

The author at the PA Grand Canyon Overlook at Leonard Harrison State Park.
The author at Leonard Harrison State Park on a winter morning.

Directions to Leonard Harrison State Park

The park office at Leonard Harrison State Park is located at 4797 Route 660 Wellsboro, PA 16901.

Leonard Harrison State Park sign.
Leonard Harrison State Park sign.

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!

One of the Pine Creek Gorge overlooks at Leonard Harrison State Park near Wellsboro.
One of the Pine Creek Gorge overlooks at Leonard Harrison State Park.

Final Thoughts

The same scenes that brought curious visitors to the PA Grand Canyon decades ago…

Vintage postcard featuring a waterfall along the Turkey Path at Leonard Harrison State Park.
Vintage postcard featuring a waterfall along the Turkey Path.

are the same scenes that keep them coming back now.

Waterfalls along the Turkey Path in Tioga County.
Same waterfall along the Turkey Path in 2019.

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!

Enjoying the morning at Leonard Harrison State Park near Wellsboro.
Enjoying the morning at Leonard Harrison State Park.

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.

Waterfall on an unnamed tributary of Campbells Run in Tiadaghton PA
Waterfall on an unnamed tributary of Campbells Run near the site of Leonard Harrison’s sawmill at Tiadaghton.

Campbells Run Falls is a magnificent 25-foot tall waterfall featured on postcards at gift shops all around the PA Grand Canyon.

Campbells Run Falls near Tiadaghton PA
Campbells Run Falls near Tiadaghton PA

On a sunny day you may even catch a rainbow in the mist at the base of the Campbells Run Falls!

A rainbow at Campbells Run Falls in Tioga County Pennsylvania
A rainbow at Campbells Run Falls in Tioga County.

Upstream from Campbells Run Falls, you’ll find the towering Amphitheatre Falls, named so for the amphitheatre of rock surrounding it.

Amphitheatre Falls along Campbells Run in the Pine Creek Gorge Pennsylvania
Amphitheatre Falls near Tiadaghton in the PA Grand Canyon.

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.

Rusty Glessner at Amphitheater Falls in Tioga County Pennsylvania
The author at Amphitheater Falls in Tioga County, Pennsylvania.

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 Pine Creek Rail Trail heading north towards Pine Island Run Falls.
The Pine Creek Rail Trail heading north in the PA Grand Canyon.

Nearby Attractions

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.

Nessmuk's gravesite in the Wellsboro Cemetery.
Nessmuk’s gravesite in the Wellsboro Cemetery.

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 Middle Ridge UMC Church outside Wellsboro.
The Middle Ridge UMC Church outside Wellsboro.

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.

Chimney Hollow Falls after heavy rains.
Chimney Hollow Falls after heavy rains 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!

Hiking to Barbour Rock Overlook in the PA Grand Canyon.
The author at Barbour Rock Overlook in 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.

Waterfalls along Bear Run in the Tioga State Forest near Colton Point State Park
Waterfalls along Bear Run in the PA Grand Canyon.

Colton Point State Park, directly across the Pine Creek Gorge from Leonard Harrison State Park, is home to Rexford Branch Falls.

Rexford Branch Falls in the Pine Creek Gorge Natural Area.
Rexford Branch Falls in the Pine Creek Gorge Natural Area.

Colton Point is also home to several exceptional roadside overlooks, with views up and down the PA Grand Canyon.

Looking out over Pine Creek from Colton Point State Park
Looking out over the PA Grand Canyon from Colton Point State Park.

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.

The Bradley Wales Scenic View on a summer afternoon in Tioga County.
The Bradley Wales Scenic View on a summer afternoon in Tioga County.

10 of the Best Pine Creek Gorge Vacation Rentals  is your guide to some one-of-a-kind lodging in the PA Grand Canyon!

Exterior of mountain top chalet in PA Grand Canyon area.
Photo courtesy of Vrbo.

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Rusty Glessner is a professional photographer, lifelong Pennsylvanian, and creator of the PA Bucket List travel blog.