The Pennsylvania Wilds

At the end of last month, I briefly recapped my recent trip to The Pennsylvania Wilds with my mom.  The trip was so amazing, though, that I decided it deserved its own post!

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In honor of my mother’s birthday and the new moon (more on that later), we decided to take a short trip to northern Pennsylvania to explore the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon and Cherry Springs State Park.  The Pennsylvania Wilds are the North-Central region of Pennsylvania which are home to millions of acres of forests and mountains with ample hiking, fishing, hunting, and exploration opportunities.  It’s a beautiful part of the state that is unlike anything else you’ll find here.

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On Wednesday, we left Happy Valley and drove (via the scenic route) to Colton Point State Park.  This is the western rim of the Pine Creek Gorge, which is better-known as the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.  It’s fifty miles long, over a thousand feet deep, and is home to a wide variety of wildlife.  Mom hadn’t been before, and I hadn’t been in years, so it was great to do some light hiking and to take in the beautiful vistas.  The leaves had just started to change, and it was awe-inspiring.

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After getting a dose of nature, we headed over to nearby Wellsboro, the town sitting at the top edge of the Grand Canyon.  It’s small but sweet, with great boutiques to look around.  Parking is ten cents for an entire hour!  We had lunch at The Native Bagel which is my new favorite sandwich spot.

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Once we had eaten and shopped, we drove to Coudersport where we were staying for the night.  Mom made reservations at Frosty Hollow Bed and Breakfast.  I cannot say enough nice things about this place.  The property has been in the owner’s family since Potter County was settled, and it’s still got a small collection of apple trees and a contingent of free-range chickens.  The rate was totally reasonable, the buildings were decorated perfectly, and breakfast was to.die.for.  If you are anywhere within proximity of this B&B, stay there.

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For dinner Wednesday night, we went to Olga’s Gallery, Cafe & Bistro.  It’s a working gallery and art shop that happens to have a restaurant and bar inside.  We shared an order of bacon blue chips, then I had a bowl of Hungarian Vegetable Stew and beef on weck.  Tasty and a fun place to eat.

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Finally, we went back to Frosty Hollow, bundled up, and went to Cherry Springs State Park.  Cherry Springs is one of the darkest places on the East Coast of North America.  At night, the public and astronomers alike go and take in amazing views of the night sky.  Wednesday night was the new moon, so it was completely dark.  At 8:15, the stars started to come out en masse.  My tripod was set up, our camp chairs were out, our eyes were adjusted.  It was incredible watching each start come out, and realizing how much of the night sky we don’t notice or can’t see…then the clouds rolled in.  We ended up leaving at around 9:30 — we were the last people who had “held out” for the sky.  What we saw was incredible, and I’m still so glad we went, and now we have a reason to go back.

Photo c/o Jesse Brown — View More

Thursday morning, after our full country breakfast at Frosty Hollow, we drove down to Sinnemahoning State Park to see its Wildlife Center and look for elk, which were rutting at the time.  Unfortunately, the elk were a no-show (it was the middle of the day), but the Wildlife Center was beautiful, and a great testament to the work that Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources puts into the land on a day-to-day basis.

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After all of that, we drove back down to Happy Valley and enjoyed some more mother-daughter time.  It was a great trip, and we’re hoping to do a more extended version soon — hopefully we can include Niagara Falls and Corning as well.  It’s incredible that our little corner of the world is surrounded by so much adventure and so many beautiful things.

View the entire photo collection on my Flickr page.

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