Exploring the Waterfalls on Bear Run in Tioga County

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Waterfalls along Bear Run in the Tioga State Forest near Colton Point State Park

Bear Run in Tioga County forms the northeastern border between Colton Point State Park and the Tioga State Forest.

It is also home to several magnificent, unnamed waterfalls accessed via a 0.6 mile (one-way) off-trail hike along Bear Run as it winds its way downhill towards Pine Creek.

Waterfall on Bear Run in Tioga County.
Waterfall on Bear Run in Tioga County.

In general, the waterfalls become taller and more difficult to reach as you make you way downhill, until at last (assuming you make it that far) you come to the colossal Lower Bear Run Falls.

Lower Bear Run Falls in the Pine Creek Gorge of Pennsylvania
Lower Bear Run Falls in the Pine Creek Gorge

I’d classify the first few waterfalls on Bear Run as easy to moderately difficult to reach, while the last few range from difficult to damn near impossible to reach!

So use and abundance of caution if you attempt any portion of this hike, and remember there’s no shame in turning back if it looks to be beyond your skill level.


How to Find the Waterfalls on Bear Run in Tioga County

The easiest spot to start your hike is from the Colton Point State Park sign along Colton Road.

The GPS coordinates for this location are 41.71662, -77.46379.

Colton Point State Park sign along Colton Road.
Colton Point State Park sign along Colton Road.

There is a small parking area located next to the sign, as the West Rim Trail also crosses Colton Road here.

How to find Bear Run Falls in Tioga County Pennsylvania
Map to the waterfalls on Bear Run in Tioga County.

From the parking area, simply hop the bank below the road and follow the stream downhill.

At this point, Bear Run looks rather small and unimpressive.

Don’t worry – it gets better!

NOTE: DO NOT follow the West Rim Trail – it DOES NOT take you to any of the waterfalls along Bear Run, no matter how it may appear on maps.


The Waterfalls on Bear Run in Tioga County

As I mentioned at the outset, the waterfalls on Bear Run have no official names.

Even numbering them is problematic, as opinions on what is and what isn’t a “waterfall” don’t always concur.

Springtime waterfalls along Bear Run In the Tioga State Forest.
Springtime waterfalls along Bear Run In the Tioga State Forest.

I’m simply going to present you with some of my favorite waterfalls along Bear Run, starting with the “upper” ones closest to Colton Road, continuing with the “lower” ones, and finally culminating with the massive Lower Bear Run Falls (not an official name).


The Upper Waterfalls on Bear Run in Tioga County

The first waterfall you’ll come to along Bear Run, assuming you started where I suggested, is this 15-footer.

The uppermost waterfall on Bear Run in Tioga County.
The uppermost waterfall on Bear Run in Tioga County.

One of my favorite scenes along Bear Run is the view looking back upstream towards this waterfall.

Bear Run Falls in the Pine Creek Gorge area of Pennsylvania
Bear Run Falls in the Pine Creek Gorge area of Pennsylvania

Unfortunately, on my last few trips there a blowdown was partially blocking this view.

But that’s the nature of the forest – things are constantly changing!


Continuing downstream, this 8-footer is another regular stop for me.

Small waterfall on Bear Run Tioga County
Small waterfall on Bear Run Tioga County

Lots of creative possibilities exist when photographing this waterfall.

Waterfalls along Bear Run in the PA Grand Canyon
Waterfalls along Bear Run in the PA Grand Canyon

The Lower Waterfalls on Bear Run in Tioga County

As you continue downstream, another 15-foot waterfall pops up.

Falls on Bear Run in Tioga County PA
Falls on Bear Run in Tioga County PA

The degree of difficulty ramps up as you make your way below another 8-footer.

Waterfalls on Bear Run in Tioga County Pennsylvania
Waterfalls on Bear Run in Tioga County, Pennsylvania.

Scramble below this one and you’ll be standing at the precipice of something truly monumental!

Waterfall on Bear Run near Colton Point State Park
Waterfall on Bear Run near Colton Point State Park

Lower Bear Run Falls

Enormous. Gigantic. Immense.

Choose your own superlative, but Lower Bear Run Falls is a jaw-dropper!

Lower Bear Run Falls in Tioga County, PA
Lower Bear Run Falls in Tioga County, PA

It’s also an incredibly difficult waterfall to get to, so I’m not even going to present you with suggestions on how to accomplish that.

This is terrain that you’ll either have the hiking expertise to figure it out on your own, or you’ll wisely turn back if you can’t!

Lower Bear Run Falls just above Pine Creek in Tioga County Pennsylvania
Lower Bear Run Falls just above Pine Creek in Tioga County.

This is easily a 60-foot tall waterfall, possibly taller depending on how many tiers you are counting as part of it.

And it’s definitely a “buddy” hike – I would never recommend anyone, even advanced hikers, do this excursion alone.

Steve Rubano and Rusty Glessner at Lower Bear Run Falls in Tioga County Pennsylvania
Steve Rubano and Rusty Glessner at Lower Bear Run Falls in Tioga County Pennsylvania

If you do make it down here in one piece, take lots of pictures – you never know if/when you’ll make it back again!

Rusty Glessner at Lower Bear Run Falls in Tioga County Pennsylvania
The author at Lower Bear Run Falls in Tioga County.


Nearby Attractions

Colton Point State Park is on the southwestern side of Bear Run, and features outstanding views of the PA Grand Canyon.

Looking out over Pine Creek from Colton Point State Park
Looking out over Pine Creek from Colton Point State Park

Fourmile Run can also be accessed from Colton Point State Park, and features several exceptional waterfalls of its own.

Fourmile Run Falls on a summer afternoon.
Fourmile Run Falls on a summer afternoon.

Burdic Run Falls is located just a few miles from Colton Point State Park and is every bit as challenging to get to as Lower Bear Run Falls.

Hiker at Burdic Run Falls in Tioga County Pennsylvania
Triumphant hiker at Burdic Run Falls in Tioga County, Pennsylvania.

And Chimney Hollow Falls is yet another massive waterfall on a tributary of Pine Creek, this one a bit easier to get to that either Burdic Run Falls or Lower Bear Run Falls.

Steve standing on Chimney Hollow Falls, for a sense of scale.
Chimney Hollow Falls in the Pine Creek Gorge.

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