Although I’m born and raised in Pennsylvania, I’ve only seen a small glimpse of the state. Over Memorial Day weekend of 2017, my friend Ashlee and I decided to take advantage of the long weekend and explore more of PA. We took two of the three long weekend days and decided on a road trip through the northern part of Pennsylvania. Specifically on our list was the Kinzua Bridge and the PA Grand Canyon.
While we hoped the four hour drive would be uneventful, it was not. We made a new friend on the way who gave me a gift called a speeding ticket. He was very nice, but the amount of the fine was not. I actually had set my cruise control the entire way, except for the 10 minutes before the ticket when he got my cruising down a mountain. Unfortunately this isn’t my first, and likely won’t be my last speeding ticket. After saying “so long” to the officer, we got to Mt. Jewett, Pennsylvania which is where the bridge is located. If you’re wondering where that is, it’s the northwest part of the state, up toward Erie. It was kind of an odd little town, I’m sure in part because the GPS took us on a dirt road around the town instead of through it. Somehow my GPS always seems to take dirt road detours. When we finally got to the park where the bridge is, I was amazed at how tall this stinking railroad bridge is! Let me tell you people, this sucker is INCREDIBLE! While the entire bridge isn’t still there because of a tornado that came through in 2003, it was at it’s tallest height in the middle about 301 feet. The first building of the bridge happened in 1882 and was made of wrought iron. In 1900, it was dismantled and rebuilt out of steel so heavier trains could use it. When the tornado in 2003 came through, the bridge was destroyed in less than 30 seconds by 94 mph winds.
The 600 feet of the bridge that remain have been redone and are now able to be visited and used as a pedestrian walkway. I am terrified of heights, which I think I get from my mom, so Ashlee was incredibly patient with me as I held on to the railing and walked out to the end of the bridge, my knees shaking the entire way. Logically speaking, I know that the railing didn’t help me more than the inside walkway did, but in my head it made sense. At the end of the walkway is this glass floor where you can look down and 300 feet below you. That’s what I call a glass floor death traps, so I did not risk my life taking a picture on it.
After my knees stopped shaking and my heart rate came back down, Ashlee and I decided to take the trail down to the bottom of the valley under the bridge. And now stand below what we just stood above. You can see the collapsed bridge towers on their sides and walk by the creek. It’s a pretty steep way down and up but it’s overall a pretty short trail.
From the bridge, we took route 6 across the top of Pennsylvania. The next destination was the PA Grand Canyon. It’s about a 2.5 hour trip. Route 6 to get there isn’t a highway, so there’s quite a few unique places to stop along the way. We saw a sign for a Winery that looked cute so we drove down the gravel driveway between the trees to it. Much to our surprise, hanging from the winery building was a type of decorative skeleton. It was May. I’m not into skeletons at wineries back gravel roads so we high tailed it out of there. We stopped at the Deer Park Giftshop back along Route 6 and then went to our hotel, the Sherwood Motel, in Wellsboro to check in.
Since it was only 4:30, we decided to go check out the PA Grand Canyon a day early. We were going to go to this super sketchy tower lookout, but after trying to insert money in the machine beside the ancient RV with no success, we left. We entered the park for the canyon where you’re able to park at a pretty big parking lot with a visitors center at the top where the view is. We took photos at the top and then we walked along the path down to the Otter View lookout. After exploring the top area of the canyon, we drove back into Wellsboro and walked to dinner at The Steak House. We split a bottle of wine and spinach artichoke dip and then called it a night.
Since we already went to the canyon, we decided to change our plans for the next day and go to Rickett’s Glen State Park where neither of us had been before. It was just over an hour’s drive from Wellsboro. We went into town that morning for breakfast at the Native Bagel and then started on some backroads toward the waterfalls. We stopped at Dushore on the way which is a cute western looking small town that was established in 1859. It has a few shops and restaurants and is a great stop along your way to Rickett’s Glen.
There’s a few places to park for the glen. We parked in the “beach area” off of the main park road. There’s a few trails you can take see the falls. We started near Lake Leigh and then hiked the trails in the triangle the trail creates. There’s a total of 21 falls in the park, so don’t feel like you have to take pictures at the first one. There’s many more to be had. The trail has some rough terrain but isn’t strenuous. You will walk down some pretty steep rock stairs but as long as you pay attention where you’re walking, you’ll be fine. Our total hike was about 5 miles and about 2 hours long.
After getting back to the car, we were quite hungry so we found a little local place that had hoagies called Mountain Steak. We ate our fill and then headed back home which was only a 2 hour drive. It was a great weekend and we got to see a lot more of Pennsylvania than we both had before. It was short, but full of laugher and adventure.