Tioga State Forest
Tioga State Forest derives its name from the Seneca phrase "meeting of two rivers." It covers 160,000 acres in Bradford and Tioga counties. The forest hosts the Pine Creek Gorge, also known as the "Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania." Tioga features awe-inspiring views and miles of clean, cool streams, like Cedar Run and Babbs Creek and is one of eight state forests located in the PA Wilds region.
Don't Move Firewood
To help protect the forest from invasive insects that can kill trees and devastate the ecosystem, please do not transport firewood over long distances. Firewood can harbor insects such as emerald ash borer. Cut or purchase your firewood where you intend to burn it.
The purpose of the original acquisition of state forest land was to protect the headwaters of Pine Creek. The first purchase was in June 1900 when 900 acres along Cedar Run were acquired from F.E. Watrous. Acquisition was continued through the years. The last large tract of 13,828 acres was transferred from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1955 and is knows as Resettlement Lands. It is located on Armenia Mountain in the headwaters of the Tioga River.
The majority of the tracts of land which today make up the Tioga State Forest were originally held by large lumber companies and land holding companies.
A major development on the forest came in 1933 with the establishment of Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps at the Darling Run, Elk Run, Leetonia and Dixie Run. Work activities included construction and maintenance of roads, trails and bridges. The original mapping and timber typing began during this period. Timber stand improvement practices also began at this time. The CCC also developed picnic areas and scenic vistas.
An interesting activity that took place on the Tioga State Forest was the operation of birch stills. These Stills which operated during the 1940's, processed bark from birch trees to produce birch oil. The only remnant of this industry is a still located at Morris. It has not been operated since 1972.
The area encompassing the Tioga State Forest has always been basically a timber producing area. In the early days, large sawmills located at Ansonia, Leetonia and several other locations were principal employers in a timber industry that flourished for nearly 50 years. The composition of today's forest is a result of timber cutting and fire during that period.
DCNR Bureau of Forestry manages our state forests for their long-term health and productivity while conserving native wild plants. These forests are “working forests” and provide a whole suite of uses and values to Pennsylvania citizens, all while maintaining the forest’s wild character. Our state forests are managed for pure water, recreation, scenic beauty, plant and animal habitat, sustainable timber and natural gas, and many other uses and values. The management of our state forests is guided by the State Forest Resource Management Plan.
The Bureau of Forestry has adopted “ecosystem management” as its principal strategy for managing state forests. This approach seeks to conserve the natural patterns and processes of the forest while advancing long-term sustainability. Ecosystem management promotes the conservation of plant and animal communities and the landscapes and habitats that support them. It also accounts for needs and values of people and communities. This results in a holistic, integrated approach to managing forest resources.
A Working Forest
As you travel throughout the state forest, you’ll see examples of our forests “at work.” Some of these management practices are more noticeable than others, such as active timber harvests, deer exclosure fences, natural gas drilling sites, prescribed fires and gypsy moth spraying. Others are more subtle, such as the protection of a vernal pool, the buffering of a stream from timber harvesting, or the setting aside of a special area to conserve its wild character or protect a rare plant community. Each of these management practices and activities play a vital role in the management and conservation of our state forest system.
Certified “Well Managed”
Pennsylvania’s 2.2-million-acre state forest system is one the largest certified forests in North America. The forest is certified (FSC-C017154) by the Rainforest Alliance™ under the Forest Stewardship Council™ standards. The FSC® is an independent organization supporting environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world's forests.
West Rim Trail
This 30-mile long hiking trail is maintained along the western rim of Pennsylvania's Grand Canyon. Many vistas have been cleared along the trail to provide the hiker with views of the Pine Creek Valley.
Pine Creek Rail Trail
This trail was developed by the Bureau of Forestry on the abandoned railroad grade that parallels the Pine Creek. The trail extends 62 miles south from Wellsboro Junction to Jersey Shore in Tiadaghton State Forest. The trail is used primarily for bicycling, cross country skiing, and walking. Some segments contain a horseback riding trail next to the bicycle trail.
Many miles of trails are available for hiking in the Tioga State Forest, revealing some of the most beautiful scenery in Pennsylvania.
The West Rim Trail, a 30-mile hiking trail, is maintained along the western rim of Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon. Many vistas have been cleared along the trail to provide hikers with views of the Pine Creek Valley.
The Barbour Rock Trail provides a one mile round trip from the parking area along Colton Road to Barbour Rock Vista which overlooks Owassee Rapids on Pine Creek. A handicapped accessible trail provides a leisurely trip to the vista.
The Pine Creek Rail Trail was developed by the Bureau of Forestry on an abandoned railroad grade that parallels Pine Creek. The trail extends 62 miles south from Wellsboro Junction to Jersey Shore in the Tiadaghton State Forest. The trail is used primarily for bicycling, walking, and cross-country skiing. The section from Ansonia south to Tiadaghton contains a horseback riding trail next to the bicycling trail.
Camping is permitted on most of the Tioga State Forest. Camping permits are required when camping in the Pine Creek Gorge, when motor vehicle camping, or for any type of camping when staying at one site for more than one night. Other campers are encouraged to obtain a free camping permit for personal safety and for use in gauging forest usage. Asaph and County Bridge Campgrounds provide a limited number of motor vehicle campsites with fire rings and picnic tables. Pit latrines and water wells are also available at these sites.
Fishing & Boating
Cold water fishing is available during the appropriate season in several creeks that wind through the Tioga State Forest. Pine Creek access areas are maintained at Ansonia, Blackwell, and Rattlesnake Rock. These areas offer a wide variety of recreational opportunities including fishing, canoeing, and picnicking.
Hunting for deer, turkeys, grouse, squirrels, and black bear is a popular use of the forest during designated seasons. Other than a few safety zones around buildings and picnic areas, hunting is permitted throughout the state forest.
A large portion of the visiting public drive the forest roads to enjoy the scenery. To enhance this experience, the district maintains several lookout areas. Among the most scenic vistas are the Cushamn Vista along the Cushman Road in southwest Tioga County, two vistas along the Cedar Mountain Road and the Pine Creek Vista on the West Rim Road. These vistas afford the motorist a spectacular view of the Tioga State Forest.
The Tioga is also home to several stunning waterfalls. A few of the more beautiful ones are located at Fallbrook in the southeast part of Tioga County; Sand Run Falls, northwest of Arnot; and at Campbells Run, north of Tiadaghton.
Another point of interest is the Hesselgessel Mill Stone site located on the Hesselgessel Road about four miles north of Asaph State Forest Picnic Area. James Hesselgessel cut stone from this site for local gristmills during the 1830's. Some of the partially cut stone still remains.
There are three state forest picnic areas: Aspah, County Bridge and Bradley Wales. There are restrooms, grills, and picnic tables at each location and there are also pavilions at Asaph and County Bridge.
Bicycling is very popular on the Pine Creek Rail Trail, which is 62 miles long from Wellsboro Junction to Jersey Shore. There are several places to rent bicycles along the trail. There are benches, bike racks, restrooms, and parking areas along the trail. The entire trail is a pack-in pack-out area so please help to keep it clean and beautiful.
Mountain bikes may be used on most roads and trails on Tioga State Forest. Only the natural areas and state forest hiking trails including the Midstate and West Rim Trail, are closed to this activity. The degree of difficulty varies considerably throughout the district.
Nine miles of designated horseback riding trail is adjacent to the Pine Creek Trail from Ansonia to Tiadaghton. A parking area for trailers is just north of Route 6 along Marsh Creek Road at Ansonia. Horses may be ridden on all state forest roads and trails except the Midstate Trail, West Rim Trail, and the Pine Creek Rail Trail south of Tiadaghton and in the natural areas.
Tioga state forest offers approximately 177 miles of snowmobile trails as well as 29 miles of maintained cross-country ski trails including Bee Tree, Sand Run and Pine Creek Rail Trail. Some of these trails may have ski tracks set during favorable conditions. Many additional trails are available for cross-country skiing when snowfall is suitable.
Pennsylvania’s state forest system includes dozens of special wild and natural areas set aside to protect unique or unusual biologic, geologic, scenic and historical features or to showcase outstanding examples of the state’s major forest communities. Natural areas are “managed” by nature and direct human intervention is limited. They provide places for scenic observation, protect special plant and animal communities and conserve outstanding examples of natural beauty. Wild areas are generally extensive tracts managed to protect the forest’s wild character and to provide back country recreational opportunities. Nearly 17,000 acres are set aside in the Tioga State Forest for three natural areas and one wild area.
Pine Creek Gorge Natural Area
Known as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, this gem is 12,163 acres in size and occupies both sides of Pine Creek from just south of Ansonia to Blackwell, a distance of 18 miles. Pine Creek Gorge was designated in 1968 as a registered National Natural Landmark with a monument located at Leonard Harrison State Park.
Pine Creek Gorge is a rugged area with depths in excess of 1,000 feet from the rim to Pine Creek and widths in excess of a mile in some places. Vistas exist at various locations along the rim including Bradley Wales Picnic Area, Colton Point State Park, Leonard Harrison State Park and Barbour Rock Trail.
Rafting and canoeing are popular on Pine Creek during the spring. For the rest of the year, hiking, fishing and hunting are popular.
Black Ash Swamp Natural Area
This natural area is located within the Asaph Wild Area at the headwaters of the Roberts Branch of Right Asaph Run. The 308-acre tract has within it an old beaver dam that is now grass covered and an excellent example of second growth cherry and maple.
Reynolds Spring Natural Area
This natural area is located northwest of Cedar Run along the Reynolds Spring Road, just north of the Lycoming-Tioga County Line. This 1,302-acre area exhibits a variety of vegetative types. For example there is an open pine swamp at the headwaters of Morris Run and several oak and aspen stands between Morris Run and Little Morris Run. One small stand of northern hardwoods can be toured at the northwest corner of the natural area.
Asaph Wild Area
This willd area is located in Shippen and Clymer Townships, Tioga County. This tract of rugged forest land is located 2.5 miles northwest of the village of Asaph and contains 2,070 acres. Asaph State Forest Picnic Area is located on the southern edge of the tract. Backpack camping is permitted within the wild area.
For more information and maps to these and other State Parks visit the "Find a Park" page.
Leonard Harrison State Park
This beautiful park is located on the eastern rim of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon (Pine Creek Gorge) at the western terminus of Pennsylvania Route 660.
The primary attraction, which draws thousands annually is the spectacular canyon vista. Elevation at the canyon rim is approximately 1,883 feet, the vertical drop to Pine Creek is about 800 feet. Pine Creek Gorge is included in the National Park Service's Registry of Natural Landmarks.
The Turkey Path descends to the bottom of Pine Creek Gorge, a distance of one mile. There is a small waterfall along the path on Little Four-Mile Run about 3/4 mile down the trail.
Colton Point State Park
This park is located on the western rim of the Canyon directly across from Leonard Harrison State Park. The area is entirely wooded and many prefer this quiet primitive setting. Twenty-five tent and trailer family camping sites, and organized group tent camping area, hiking trails, picnicking, and spectacular vistas have been developed for the public to use and enjoy. Fishing is available to those visitors who wish to make the long, steep hike to Pine Creek at the bottom of the canyon by way of Turkey Path. Nearby trout streams include Marsh Creek, Asaph Run, and Four-Mile Run.
Hills Creek State Park
This park covering 396 acres is located in Tioga County, just north of U.S. Route 6, midway between Wellsboro and Mansfield.The park area was originally known as Kelly's Swamp. Within this swamp, a small mine existed from which pigment for the paint industry was extracted. The site of the present lake was first impounded by beavers. This interesting animal is still active in the lake.
A beach with nearby refreshments and boat rental concession is located on the eastern shore of the park's 137-acre lake. Several picnic areas are available. Family camping and cabin rental are also provided on a year-round basis. State Game Lands #37, which comprised 13,000 acres of rough mountainous terrain, is within walking distance of the camping area. Public boat access is established along the western shoreline. Anglers enjoy fishing for warm water game fish and panfish. Ice fishing is exceptionally good. Ice skating is also a popular winter sport.