My love affair with Pine Creek Gorge began in 2007, when I was nearing my goal weight and first teaching myself to ride a bicycle. I read about the Pine Creek Rail Trail, a sixty two mile trail that runs through the bottom of the gorge. As I read further my sights began to move higher, from the canyon bottom to the rim. I read every hiking and riding report I could find online, and looked at photograph after photograph.
I finally visited Pine Creek Gorge in 2009. Despite an encounter with a rattlesnake, the trip was wonderful. I was so overwhelmed by my first view of the canyon from Colton Point that I spontaneously broke into prayer. I’ve returned to the gorge each year afterward; 2010 for five days camping from Naval Run to Colton Point, and hiking up Mount Tom, in 2011 during a hurricane, in 2012 for hikes and vistas at Bradley Wales and riding on the rail trail, and last year for a hike up to the Raven’s Horn and the Icebreak Trail. (You can see a photo from the Raven’s Horn hike in the heading of this website.)
This year my first visit was short, about an hour, revisiting the familiar overlooks at Colton Point State Park. Colton Point is on the west side of the canyon. There is a sort of rivalry among fans of the canyon about which side, and park, gives you the better visiting experience. The east rim has a spectacular view and Leonard Harrison State Park has running water and flush toilets, but I prefer the more rustic camping experience on the west rim, and the series of vistas in Colton Point and up and down the seventeen miles of canyon.
It was early afternoon when I arrived at Colton, and the morning fog was long gone. The sky was blue and the canyon lush. I drove from vista to vista, photographing at each. Unfortunately I had hours of driving ahead of me and a backpacking trip with my friend Adam the following day. If not for the backpacking trip I would have gone for a hike on the West Rim Trail and perhaps spent the night. But after an hour I began the long drive home, regretting my trip was so short.
Its scenes like that remind me why I lost weight and changed from potato to potential. As I wrote above, I have a love affair with Pine Creek Gorge. But I’m not a jealous lover. I’d be delighted if you fell in love with the canyon, and I’m happy to help you do so. Perhaps these photos, and the links above, will help.