Colton Point State Park

Colton Point State Park

Colton Point State Park
Pennsylvania State Park
National Register of Historic Places
Part of National Natural Landmark
CCC-built overlook looking south into the Pine Creek Gorge in Colton Point State Park
Named for: Henry Colton
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Tioga
Township Shippen
Elevation 1,637 ft (499 m) [1]
Area 368 acres (149 ha)
Founded 1936
Management Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Visitation 87,423 [2]
IUCN category V - Protected Landscape/Seascape
Added to NRHP February 12, 1987
NRHP Ref# 87000112
A map of the state of Pennsylvania with a red dot in the north-central part
Location of Colton Point State Park in Pennsylvania
A map showing the two parks with Tioga State Forest to the north, west, and south and private land to the east. Labels include Delmar, Elk, and Shippen Townships, Pine Creek and its tributaries Bear Run, Fourmile Run, Little Fourmile Run, and Stowell Run, Pine Creek Rail Trail, West Rim Trail, Turkey Path, Pennsylvania Route 660, Park Office, and Camping and Group Tenting areas. Symbols for picnic shelters and vistas are shown in each park.
Colton Point (ivory area left of Pine Creek) and Leonard Harrison (right) State Parks in Tioga County, PA
Website: Colton Point State Park

Colton Point State Park is a 368-acre (149 ha) Tioga State Forest and its sister park, Leonard Harrison State Park, on the east rim. The park is on a state forest road in Shippen Township 5 miles (8 km) south of U.S. Route 6.

National Natural Landmark in 1968 and is also protected as a Pennsylvania State Natural Area and Important Bird Area, while Pine Creek is a Pennsylvania Scenic and Wild River. The gorge is home to many species of plants and animals, some of which have been reintroduced to the area.

The park is named for Henry Colton, a [3]


Native Americans

Humans have lived in what is now Pennsylvania since at least 10,000 BC. The first settlers were Paleo-Indian nomadic hunters known from their stone tools.[4][5] The hunter-gatherers of the Archaic period, which lasted locally from 7000 to 1000 BC, used a greater variety of more sophisticated stone artifacts. The Woodland period marked the gradual transition to semi-permanent villages and horticulture, between 1000 BC and 1500 AD. Archeological evidence found in the state from this time includes a range of pottery types and styles, burial mounds, pipes, bows and arrows, and ornaments.[4]

Colton Point State Park is in the [6] Their numbers were greatly reduced by disease and warfare with the Five Nations of the Iroquois, and by 1675 they had died out, moved away, or been assimilated into other tribes.[5][7]

After this, the lands of the West Branch Susquehanna River valley were under the nominal control of the Iroquois. The Iroquois lived in long houses, primarily in what is now [9][10] To fill the void left by the demise of the Susquehannocks, the Iroquois encouraged displaced tribes from the east to settle in the West Branch watershed, including the Shawnee and Lenape (or Delaware).[5][7]

The War of 1812.[11]

Lumber era

Prior to the arrival of William Penn and his Quaker colonists in 1682, up to 90 percent of what is now Pennsylvania was covered with woods: more than 31,000 square miles (80,000 km2) of eastern white pine, eastern hemlock, and a mix of hardwoods.[12] The forests near the three original counties, Philadelphia, Bucks, and Chester, were the first to be harvested, as the early settlers used the readily available timber and cleared land for agriculture. By the time of the American Revolution, logging had reached the interior and mountainous regions,[12][13] and became a leading industry in Pennsylvania.[12] Trees furnished fuel to heat homes, tannin for the state's many tanneries, and wood for construction, furniture, and barrel making. Large areas of forest were harvested by colliers to fire iron furnaces. Rifle stocks and shingles were made from Pennsylvania timber, as were a wide variety of household utensils, and the first Conestoga wagons.[12]

Pine Creek lumber drive, with arks for kitchen and dining (left), sleeping (center), and horses (right): the railroad is on the shore behind.

By the early 19th century the demand for lumber reached the Pine Creek Gorge, where the surrounding mountainsides were covered with eastern white pine 3 to 6 feet (1 to 2 m) in diameter and 150 feet (50 m) or more tall, eastern hemlock 9 feet (3 m) in circumference, and huge hardwoods.[6] Each acre (0.4 ha) of these virgin forests produced 100,000 board feet (200 m3) of white pine and 200,000 board feet (500 m3) of hemlock and hardwoods. For comparison, the same area of forest today produces a total of only 5,000 board feet (10 m3) on average. According to Steven E. Owlett, environmental lawyer and author, shipbuilders considered pine from Pine Creek the "best timber in the world for making fine ship masts",[14] so it was the first lumber to be harvested on a large scale. The original title to the land that became Colton Point State Park was sold to the Wilhelm Wilkins Company in 1792.[14] Pine Creek was declared a public highway by the Pennsylvania General Assembly on March 16, 1798,[6] and rafts of spars were floated down the creek to the Susquehanna River, then to the Chesapeake Bay and the shipbuilders at Baltimore.[14][b] The lumbermen would then walk home, following the old Pine Creek Path at the end of their journey.[10]

As the 19th century progressed, fewer pines were left and more hemlocks and hardwoods were cut and processed locally.[14] By 1810 there were 11 sawmills in the Pine Creek watershed, and by 1840 there were 145, despite a flood in 1832 which wiped out nearly all the mills along the creek.[11][14] Selective harvesting of pines was replaced by clearcutting of all lumber in a tract. The first lumbering activity close to what is now Colton Point was in 1838 when William Dodge and partners built a settlement at Big Meadows and formed the Pennsylvania Joint Land and Lumber Company. Dodge's company purchased thousands of acres of land in the area, including what is now Colton Point State Park.[8] In 1865 the last pine spar raft floated down the creek, and on March 28, 1871 the General Assembly passed a law which allowed construction of splash dams and allowed creeks to be cleared to allow loose logs to float better. The earliest spring log drives floated up to 20,000,000 board feet (50,000 m3) of logs in Pine Creek at one time.[14] These logs floated to the West Branch Susquehanna River and to sawmills near the Susquehanna Boom at Williamsport.[13] Log drives could be dangerous: just north of the park is Barbour Rock, named for Samuel Barbour, who lost his life on Pine Creek there after breaking up a log jam.[15] Hemlock wood was not widely used until the advent of wire nails, but the bark was used to tan leather. After 1870 the largest tanneries in the world were in the Pine Creek watershed, and required 2,000 pounds (900 kg) of bark to produce 150 pounds (70 kg) of quality sole leather.[14]

A Shay locomotive from the Leetonia lumber railroad and the nearly clearcut Pine Creek Gorge, at one of the lookouts in what is now the park.

In 1879 Henry Colton, who worked for the Williamsport Lumber Company, supervised the cutting of white pine on the land owned by Silas Billings; this land would later become the park.[14][c] Colton gave his name to the Colton Point overlook on the west rim of the Pine Creek Gorge.[9][16] Deadman Hollow Road in the park is named for a trapper whose decomposed body was found in his own bear trap there in the early 20th century. Fourmile Run flows through the park: its O'Connor Branch is named for the dead trapper's brothers, who were loggers in the area.[15]

In 1883 the New York Central Railroad (NYC) to the north with the Clearfield Coalfield to the southwest, and with NYC-allied lines in Williamsport to the southeast.[14] By 1896 the rail line's daily traffic included three passenger trains and 7,000,000 short tons (6,400,000 t) of freight.[9] In the surrounding forests, log drives gave way to logging railroads, which transported lumber to local sawmills. There were 13 companies operating logging railroads along Pine Creek and its tributaries between 1886 and 1921, while the last log drive in the Pine Creek watershed started on Little Pine Creek in 1905.[14] By 1900 the Leetonia logging railroad was extended to the headwaters of Fourmile Run, which has several high waterfalls that prevented logs from being floated down it. In 1903 the line reached Colton Point and Bear Run, which is the northern border of the park today. Lumber on Fourmile Run that had been previously inaccessible was harvested and transported by train, initially to Leonard Harrison's mill at Tiadaghton. When that mill burned in 1905, the lumber went to the Leetonia mill on Cedar Run in Elk Township.[14]

The [14]


The cabins on either side of Fourmile Run along Pine Creek, as seen from Leonard Harrison State Park
conservationist who wrote under the pen name "Nessmuk", was one of the first to criticize the Pennsylvania lumber industry and its destruction of forests and creeks.[17] In his 1884 book Woodcraft he wrote of the Pine Creek watershed where
A huge tannery ... poisons and blackens the stream with chemicals, bark and ooze. ... The once fine covers and thickets are converted into fields thickly dotted with blackened stumps. And, to crown the desolation, heavy laden trains of 'The Pine Creek and Jersey Shore R.R.' go thundering [by] almost hourly ... Of course, this is progress; but, whether backward or forward, had better be decided sixty years hence.[18]
Nessmuk's words went mostly unheeded in his lifetime and did not prevent the clearcutting of almost all the virgin forests in Pennsylvania.[17]

Sears lived in [20]

The land on which Colton Point State Park sits was sold to the Commonwealth in the late 19th century for $2.50 per acre ($6.25 per ha) by the Pennsylvania Joint Land and Lumber Company, which had no further use for it.[8][21] Elsewhere in the gorge the state bought land abandoned by lumber companies, sometimes for less than $2 per acre ($5 per ha).[14] These purchases became the Tioga State Forest, which was officially established in 1925.[22] As of 2015 the state forest encompasses 165,052 acres (66,794 ha), mostly in Tioga County, and surrounds Colton Point State Park to the north, west, and south. Leonard Harrison State Park is on the eastern border of Colton Point.[23] In 1922, Wellsboro lumber baron Leonard Harrison donated his picnic grounds on the eastern rim of the gorge to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which named it "Leonard Harrison State Forest Park".[24][25]

Harrison also built two cabins, named "Wetumka" and "Osocosy", on the west side of Pine Creek, just north of the mouth of Fourmile Run. Sometime after 1903, former Pennsylvania Governor William A. Stone built a cabin named "Heart's-ease" just south of the mouth of Fourmile Run.[14] In 1966 these cabins were still standing and were three of "only four man-made structures inside the canyon proper",[26] but by 1993 only Stone's cabin and one of Harrison's cabins remained.[14] As of 2004, these properties were still owned by the Stone family,[27] and are part of a small parcel of private land within the park.[28]

Modern era

CCC-built shelter 3 in the park

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) started work on the park in June 1935,[21] and it opened as "Colton Point State Forest Park" in 1936.[25] The CCC, founded by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression, created jobs for unemployed young men from throughout the United States. Much of the work of the CCC at Colton Point is still visible as of 2015, and is one of many examples of the work of the CCC throughout northcentral Pennsylvania.[29][30]

In 1936, the year the park opened, Larry Woodin of Wellsboro and other Tioga County business owners began a tourism campaign to promote the Pine Creek Gorge as "The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania". Yellowstone National Park. In response to the heavy use of the local roads, the CCC widened the highways in the area, and guides from the CCC gave tours of the canyon.[22][27]

Colton Point originally opened with only "limited facilities",[27] but the success of the tourism campaign led to the park's expansion by the CCC. New facilities were added in 1938, and included buildings such as picnic pavilions, latrines, and a concession stand, as well as "stone cook stoves, tables, and developed trails and overlooks ... an amazing amount of work in one year".[27] The CCC also built the road to the park and planted stands of larch, spruce and white pine for reforestation. On February 12, 1987, the entire 368-acre (149 ha) park was listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), including "eight buildings and nine structures".[21]

The park has five CCC-built picnic shelters: pavilions 1, 3, and 4 are made of stone and timber with stone fireplaces, while pavilions 2 and 5 each has log columns that support a pyramidal roof. The CCC also built six rustic latrines with clapboard siding and gable roofs, and an underground reservoir that is covered with a low hipped roof. Additional structures constructed by the CCC include three overlooks and a rectangular gable-roofed maintenance building with wane edge siding and exposed rafters made of logs. The structures built by the CCC are noteworthy in that they exemplify the rustic style of construction that was prevalent at national and state parks built during the Great Depression. Workers used locally found, natural materials in construction that blended with the natural surroundings.[9][21] Not all of the CCC's work has survived. A concession stand was built by the CCC and sold food and souvenirs from the late 1930s to at least 1953,[27] but was not listed on the 1986 NRHP nomination form. The CCC also built a brick and stone incinerator, but it is in ruins now.[21]

This water fountain was built by the CCC with native stone.

The Pennsylvania Geographic Board dropped the word "Forest" and officially named it "Colton Point State Park" on November 11, 1954.[25] The first major change in the park was in 1970, when a camping area was established. That same decade saw the completion of a new water system in 1973, and a [31] In 1997 the park's Important Bird Area (IBA) was one of the first 73 IBAs established in Pennsylvania.[32] In 2000 the park became part of the Hills Creek State Park complex, an administrative grouping of eight state parks in Potter and Tioga counties.[33] As of 2004, the park does not have telephone or electrical lines, although it uses solar cells for limited electricity needs.[27]

The second half of the 20th century also saw significant changes to the rail line through the Pine Creek Gorge. Regular passenger service on the canyon line ended after the Second World War, and in 1960 the second set of train tracks was removed.[34] Conrail abandoned the section of the railroad that passed through the gorge on September 21, 1988. The right-of-way eventually became the Pine Creek Rail Trail, which follows the path of the former Pine Creek Path. The first section of the rail trail opened in 1996 and included the 1-mile (1.6 km) section in the park:[27][34] as of 2015 the Pine Creek Rail Trail is 62 miles (100 km) long.[23]

Colton Point State Park continued to attract national attention in the post-war era. [36] A 1973 New York Times article on whitewater canoeing noted the damage along Pine Creek done by Hurricane Agnes the year before.[37] Another Times story in 2002 noted the park for its beauty and wildlife, and cited it as a starting point for hiking the West Rim Trail.[38]

In the new millennium, the two state parks on either side of the Pine Creek Gorge are frequently treated as one. A 2002 New York Times article called Colton Point and Leonard Harrison state parks "Two State Parks, Divided by a Canyon" and noted their "overlooks offer the most spectacular views".[39] Colton Point and Leonard Harrison were each included in the list of state parks chosen by the DCNR Pennsylvania Bureau of Parks for its "25 Must-See Pennsylvania State Parks" list. The DCNR describes how they "offer spectacular vistas and a fabulous view of Pine Creek Gorge, also known as Pennsylvania's Grand Canyon".[3] It goes on to praise their inclusion in a National Natural Landmark and State Park Natural Area, hiking and trails, and the Pine Creek Rail Trail and bicycling.[3]

Pine Creek Gorge

Map of Pine Creek flowing from north to south. Marsh Creek enters it in the north at Ansonia, the two parks are south of this, below is the village of Tiadaghton, and further south Babb Creek enters at Blackwell. Also in Tioga County are Wellsboro (east of the parks) and Leetonia (southwest of Tiadaghton). Lycoming County is further south and there Pine Creek receives Little Pine Creek at Waterville, and enters the West Branch Susquehanna River south of Jersey Shore. To the east is Lycoming Creek, which enters the river at Williamsport.
Map showing the park and important locations in its history in the Pine Creek Gorge and Tioga and Lycoming Counties

Colton Point State Park lies on the west side of the [9][40]

The Pine Creek Gorge [36]

The gorge is also protected by the state of Pennsylvania as the 12,163-acre (4,922 ha) Pine Creek Gorge Natural Area, which is the second largest State Natural Area in Pennsylvania.[41][42] Within this area, 699 acres (283 ha) of Colton Point and Leonard Harrison State Parks are designated a State Park Natural Area.[43] The state Natural Area runs along Pine Creek from Darling Run in the north (just below Ansonia) to Jerry Run in the south (just above Blackwell). It is approximately 12 miles (19 km) long and 2 miles (3 km) wide, with state forest roads providing all of the western border and part of the eastern border.[44]

Within the park, Pine Creek and the walls of the gorge "visible from the opposite shoreline"[45] are also protected by the state as a Pennsylvania Scenic River.[46] In 1968 Pine Creek was one of only 27 rivers originally designated as eligible to be included in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and one of only eight specifically mentioned in the law establishing the program. Before Pine Creek could be included in the federal program, the state enacted its State Scenic Rivers Act, then asked that Pine Creek be withdrawn from the national designation. There was much local opposition to its inclusion, based at least partly on mistaken fears that protection would involve seizure of private property and restricted access. Eventually this opposition was overcome, but Pennsylvania did not officially include it as one of its own state Scenic and Wild Rivers until November 25, 1992. The state treated Pine Creek as a state scenic river between 1968 and 1992. It protected the creek from dam-building and water withdrawals for power plants, and added public access points to reduce trespassing on private property by visitors to the creek.[31][45]

Geology and climate

Although the rock formations exposed in Colton Point State Park and the Pine Creek Gorge are at least 300 million years old, the gorge itself formed about 20,000 years ago, in the last ice age. Pine Creek had flowed northeasterly until then, but was dammed by rocks, soil, ice, and other debris deposited by the receding Laurentide Continental Glacier. The dammed creek formed a lake near what would later be the village of Ansonia, and the lake's glacial meltwater overflowed the debris dam, reversing the flow of Pine Creek. The creek flooded to the south and quickly carved a deep channel on its way to the West Branch Susquehanna River.[40][47]

Looking north to Barbour Rock (left) and other rock outcrops in the Pine Creek Gorge

The park is at an elevation of 1,637 feet (499 m) on the dissected plateau. Years of erosion have cut away the soft rocks, forming the valleys, and left the hardest of the ancient rocks relatively untouched on the top of sharp ridges, giving them the appearance of "mountains".[47]

The land on which Colton Point State Park sits was once part of the coastline of a shallow sea that covered a great portion of what is now North America. The high mountains to the east of the sea gradually eroded, causing a buildup of sediment made up primarily of clay, sand and gravel. Tremendous pressure on the sediment caused the formation of the rocks that are found today in the Pine Creek drainage basin: sandstone, shale, conglomerates, limestone, and coal.[47][50]

Five major rock formations present in Colton Point State Park are from the Pennsylvanian Pottsville Formation, a gray conglomerate that may contain sandstone, siltstone, and shale, as well as anthracite coal. Low-sulfur coal was once mined at three locations within the Pine Creek watershed. Below this is the late Mississippian Mauch Chunk Formation, which is formed with grayish-red shale, siltstone, sandstone, and conglomerate. Millstones were once carved from the exposed sections of this conglomerate. Together the Pottsville and Mauch Chunk formations are some 300 feet (91 m) thick.[47][51][52]

Next below these is the late [47][48][51][52]

The Allegheny Plateau has a continental climate, with occasional severe low temperatures in winter and average daily temperature ranges of 20 °F (11 °C) in winter and 26 °F (14 °C) in summer.[53] The mean annual precipitation for the Pine Creek watershed is 36 to 42 inches (914 to 1,070 mm).[50] The highest recorded temperature at the park was 104 °F (40 °C) in 1936, and the record low was −30 °F (−34 °C) in 1934.[54]
Climate data for Colton Point State Park
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 30
Average low °F (°C) 13
Average precipitation inches (mm) 1.88
Source: The Weather Channel[54]


A log drive on Pine Creek. Clearcutting caused the "Pennsylvania Desert", local extinction of many species, and changes in seasonal stream flow.

Descriptions from early explorers and settlers give some idea of what the Pine Creek Gorge was like before it was clearcut. The forest was up to 85 percent hemlock and white pine; hardwoods made up the rest of the forest.[55] The area was inhabited by a large number of animal species, many of which have vanished by the end of the 20th century. A herd of 12,000 American bison migrated along the West Branch Susquehanna River in 1773. Pine Creek was home to large predators such as wolves, lynx, wolverines, panthers, fishers, bobcats and foxes; all are locally extinct except for the last three as of 2007. The area had herds of elk and deer, and large numbers of black bears, river otters, and beavers. In 1794, two of the earliest white explorers to travel up Pine Creek found so many rattlesnakes on its banks that they had to sleep in their canoe. Further upstream, insects forced them to do the same.[6]

The virgin forests cooled the land and streams. The creeks and runs flowed more evenly year-round, since centuries of accumulated organic matter in the forest soil caused slow percolation of rainfall into them.[55][56] Pine Creek was home to large numbers of fish, including trout, but dams downstream on the Susquehanna River have eliminated the shad, salmon,[d] and eels once found here by blocking their migrations.[6] Habitat for land animals was destroyed by the clearcutting of forests, but there was also a great deal of hunting, with bounties paid for large predators.[6]

State Natural Area and wildlife

While Colton Point and Leonard Harrison State Parks and parts of the surrounding Tioga State Forest are now the Pine Creek Gorge National Natural Landmark, it is their status as part of a Pennsylvania State Natural Area that provides the strongest protection for them.[41] Within this Natural Area, logging, mining, and drilling for oil and gas are prohibited. Furthermore, only foot trail access is allowed.[57] In 1988 the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources, precursor to the DCNR, described it as
about 95% State owned, unroaded, and designated the Pine Creek Gorge Natural Area. It is a place of unique geologic history and contains some rare plant communities, an old growth hemlock stand, ... active bald eagle nest[s] ... and is a major site of river otter reintroduction. Departmental policy is protection of the natural values of the Canyon from development and overuse, and restoration of the area to as near a natural condition as possible.[34]
View southeast to the rock ledge and main overlook of Leonard Harrison State Park, another protected area in the Pine Creek Gorge.

The gorge has over 225 species of wildflowers, plants and trees,[58] with scattered stands of old growth forest on some of its steepest walls. The rest of the gorge is covered with thriving second growth forest that can be over one hundred years old.[14] Since clearcutting, nearly 90 percent of the forest land has burnt at least once. Typical south-facing slopes here have mountain laurel below oak and hickory trees, while north-facing slopes tend to have ferns below hemlocks and hardwoods. Large chestnuts and black cherry can also be found.[58]

The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania is known for its fall foliage, and Colton Point State Park is a popular place to observe the colors, with the first three weeks of October as the best time to see the leaves in their full color. Red leaves are found on Jacob's ladder, wild pea, and hemlock parsley.[58]

There are over 40 species of mammals in the Pine Creek Gorge.[58] Colton Point State Park's extensive forest cover makes it a habitat for "big woods" wildlife, including white-tailed deer, black bear, wild turkey, red and gray squirrels. Less common creatures include bobcats, coyote, fishers, river otters, and timber rattlesnakes.[59] There are over 26 species of fish in Pine Creek, including trout, suckers, fallfish, and rock bass. Other aquatic species include crayfish and frogs.[58]

Several species have been reintroduced to the gorge. White-tailed deer were imported from [58]

A rock-strewn stream beneath a blue sky with some white clouds. On either side steep tree-covered slopes come down to near the water's edge.
Pine Creek and the wooded slopes of the gorge in the park are important habitats.

Fishers, medium-sized gypsy moth larvae, which eat all the leaves off trees, especially oaks,[58] and hemlock woolly adelgids, which weaken and kill hemlocks. Invasive plant species include purple loosestrife and Japanese knotweed.[56]

Important Bird Area

Colton Point State Park is part of Important Bird Area #28, which encompasses 31,790 acres (12,860 ha) of both publicly and private held land. State managed acreage accounts for 68 percent of the total area and includes Colton Point and Leonard Harrison State Parks and the surrounding Tioga State Forest lands. The Pennsylvania Audubon Society has designated all 368 acres (149 ha) of Colton Point State Park as part of the IBA, which is an area designated as a globally important habitat for the conservation of bird populations.[63]


In addition to bald eagles, which live in the IBA year round and have successfully established a breeding population there,[58][63] the IBA is home to [63]

A variety of Pine, Black-throated blue, Black-throated green, Blackburnian, and Black-and-white."[59] Many of these smaller birds are more often heard than seen as they keep away from the trails and overlooks.[59]



The Rim Trail follows the western edge of the Pine Creek Gorge through the park, linking overlooks and picnic shelters.

Colton Point State Park has some challenging hikes in and around the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, with 4.0 miles (6.4 km) of trails that feature very rugged terrain, pass close to steep cliffs, and can be very slick in some areas.[9][64] Governor Robert P. Casey took a hiking tour of the park in July 1990,[30] and in 2003 the DCNR reported that 18,239 people used the trails in the park.[2]

  • Rim Trail is a relatively flat 1-mile (1.6 km) loop trail, which follows the perimeter of Colton Point and links all of the canyon viewing areas.[9]
  • Turkey Path is a difficult trail,[64] 3 miles (5 km) long (down and back within the park), that follows Four Mile Run down the side of the canyon, descending over 800 feet (240 m) to Pine Creek and the rail trail at the bottom of the gorge.[9] It was originally a mule drag used to haul timber to the creek.[16] There is a 70-foot-tall (21 m) cascading waterfall about 0.5 miles (0.80 km) down the trail. The park website classifies it as a "down and back trail" since there is no bridge across Pine Creek.[9] The Turkey Path continues in Leonard Harrison State Park, going from a point on Pine Creek just downstream of the end of the trail in Colton Point up to the Leoanrd Harrison overlook on the east rim of the gorge. According to Owlett, the creek can be forded with care when the water is low, and the Turkey Path connects the two parks.[16][28][42]
  • Jersey Shore: 1 mile (1.6 km) of this trail is in Colton Point and Leonard Harrison State Parks.[9][23] A 2001 article in USA Today said the scenic beauty of the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania made the trail one of "10 great places to take a bike tour" in the world.[65][66]
  • [28] When the West Rim Trail opened in 1982, it was 21 miles (34 km) long and ended just south of the park, but it was extended 9 miles (14 km) north in 1985, passing through Colton Point.[15] It was chosen by Outside Magazine as its "Best Hike in Pennsylvania" in April 1996.[67]

Camping and picnics

Picnic shelter 2 was built by the CCC and is one of five at the park listed on the NRHP.

[2][9] The park also has approximately 100 picnic tables and five CCC-built picnic shelters which can be reserved. These facilities were used by 15,379 picnickers in 2003.[2]

Hunting, fishing, and whitewater

Hunting is permitted in 100 acres (40 ha) of Colton Point State Park, and is regulated by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The common game species are ruffed grouse, eastern gray squirrels, wild turkey, white-tailed deer, and black bears. The hunting of groundhogs is prohibited. More acres of forested woodlands are available for hunting on the grounds of the adjacent Tioga State Forest.[9]

Fishing is permitted at Colton Point State Park. Anglers must descend the Turkey Path to reach Pine Creek. The species of fish found in Pine Creek are trout, smallmouth bass, and some panfish. There are several small trout streams that are accessible from within the park.[9] Historically, the stretch of Pine Creek in the park has been fished by notable anglers, including President Theodore Roosevelt and Pennsylvania Governor William A. Stone.[30]

Edward Gertler writes in Keystone Canoeing that Pine Creek "is possibly Pennsylvania's most famous canoe stream" and attributes this partly to the thousands who decide to boat on it after they "peer into Pine Creek's spectacular abyss from the overlooks of Leonard Harrison and Colton Point state parks".[68] The park contains 1 mile (1.6 km) of Pine Creek, which is classified as Class 1 to Class 2 whitewater. Boaters do not normally start or end their run in the park: it is part of the 16.8-mile (27.0 km) trip from Ansonia (Marsh Creek) south to Blackwell (Babb Creek).[68]

Nearby state parks

Colton Point State Park is in Shippen Township, and is 5 miles (8 km) south of U.S. Route 6 and the village of Ansonia on Colton Road.[28] The following state parks are within 30 miles (50 km) of Colton Point State Park:[69][70][71]
Panoramic view of the Pine Creek Gorge with the Pine Creek Rail Trail, Pine Creek and Leonard Harrison State Park, looking north (right), east (center), and south (left) from the second of the five overlooks in Colton Point State Park


a. ^ The earliest written record of contact with the Susquehannocks comes from Captain John Smith of Jamestown, who met members of the tribe near the mouth of the Susquehanna River on Chesapeake Bay in 1608. The tribe controlled the Susquehanna drainage basin and are believed to have lived there for at least a few centuries prior to this contact.[7]
b. ^ A spar sold for one dollar and three spars up to 90 feet (27 m) long were lashed together to make a ship's mast. The largest spar produced on Pine Creek was 43 inches (110 cm) in diameter 12 feet (3.7 m) above the base, 93 feet (28 m) long, and 33 inches (84 cm) in diameter at the top. By 1840, Tioga County alone produced over 452 such spar rafts with more than 22,000,000 board feet (50,000 m3) of lumber.[14]
c. ^ [72] West Fourth Street was known as "Millionaires' Row" for the many opulent mansions of lumber barons and other wealthy residents found there.[73] He may have served in the American Civil War as a private.[74] Colton died in Williamsport on August 9, 1880 at the age of 59.[75]
d. ^ Early accounts of "salmon" in Pine Creek may have been referring to shad.[6]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b c d e
  3. ^ a b c
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ a b c d e f g
    Note: For a general overview of Native American History in the West Branch Susquehanna watershed, see Retrieved on September 30, 2008. Note: ISBN refers to the Heritage Books July 1996 reprint. URL is to a scan of the 1892 version with some OCR typos.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g
  7. ^ a b c d Retrieved on April 23, 2015. Note: ISBN refers to a 1999 reprint edition, URL is for the Susquehanna River Basin Commission's web page of Native American Place names, quoting and citing the book.
  8. ^ a b c
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n
  10. ^ a b Note: ISBN refers to 1998 impression
  11. ^ a b Retrieved on September 30, 2008.
  12. ^ a b c d e
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q
  15. ^ a b c (No ISBN)
  16. ^ a b c
  17. ^ a b (No ISBN)
  18. ^ Retrieved on September 30, 2008.
  19. ^
  20. ^ Quoted in
  21. ^ a b c d e f Note: This includes
  22. ^ a b c
  23. ^ a b c
  24. ^
  25. ^ a b c
  26. ^ a b
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h
  28. ^ a b c d e Retrieved on April 23, 2015.
  29. ^
  30. ^ a b c
  31. ^ a b (No ISBN)
  32. ^
  33. ^ Note: the eight parks in the Hills Creek State Park Complex are Cherry Springs, Colton Point, Denton Hill, Hills Creek, Leonard Harrison, Lyman Run, Patterson, and Prouty Place.
  34. ^ a b c
  35. ^
  36. ^ a b
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^ a b
  41. ^ a b
  42. ^ a b c
  43. ^
  44. ^ Retrieved on September 30, 2008.
  45. ^ a b
  46. ^
  47. ^ a b c d e
  48. ^ a b
  49. ^
  50. ^ a b
  51. ^ a b
  52. ^ a b
  53. ^
  54. ^ a b
  55. ^ a b (No ISBN)
  56. ^ a b (No ISBN)
  57. ^
  58. ^ a b c d e f g h i j (No ISBN)
  59. ^ a b c d Retrieved on September 30, 2008. Note: This guide is available both as a book (page number given) and website (URL given).
  60. ^
  61. ^
  62. ^
  63. ^ a b c d
  64. ^ a b
  65. ^
  66. ^
  67. ^
  68. ^ a b
  69. ^ Retrieved on September 30, 2008. Note: shows Colton Point State Park
  70. ^
  71. ^
  72. ^ 1860 Federal Census for Pennsylvania, Lycoming County, West Ward of Williamsport, p. 214, Dwelling 1565, Family 1575, dated 2 August 1860. 1870 Federal Census for Pennsylvania, Lycoming County, 6th Ward of Williamsport, p. 24, Dwelling 177, Family 175, dated 20 August 1870. 1880 Federal Census for Pennsylvania, Lycoming County, District 73, Supervisor District 6, Enumeration District 73, p. 15, Dwelling 107, Family 136, dated 4 June 1880.
  73. ^ Retrieved on October 4, 2008.
  74. ^ Retrieved on September 30, 2008. Note: ISBN refers to the Heritage Books July 1996 reprint. URL is to a scan of the 1892 version with some OCR typos.
  75. ^ Retrieved on October 4, 2008.

External links

  • Colton Point State Park official map PDF (656 KB)
  • Colton Point State Park official campground map PDF (481 KB)

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