The Pine Creek Rail Trail or PA Grand Canyon is supposed to be one of the most beautiful spots in all of Pennsylvania. My friend Tracy and I had been trying to plan a bike camping trip there for at LEAST 2 years, but if you have been following this blog you know that 9 times out of 10 when I’m trying to plan an outdoor adventure it rains a lot and I have to cancel. We actually had the campsite booked 3 times last year and due to heavy rains we didn’t go. I was nervous to check the weather as the weekend of our trip approached – honestly a big part of me didn’t think we would actually be going because we had to cancel so many times before. The weather was supposed to be perfect so I dug out all my camping things the night before and stuffed them into my panniers. In the morning, I was making breakfast and a glass jar fell out of the top shelf right onto my glass stove top – completely shattering it. I texted Tracy I would be a little late as I picked the glass shards out of one foot and put a bandaid on the cut on the other. I assured Tracy I wouldn’t need stitches, but just needed to clean up the glass that was now all over my kitchen and then I would be over – there was NOTHING that was going to stop our trip.
After I was bandaged up, I picked Tracy up and we headed to Jersey Shore, PA which was the southernmost section of the trail. We fueled up on Pizza, loaded our bikes with everything and then started our adventure.
About 5 miles into the ride I looked down just in time to see a snake rear up as my tire zoomed by. I shrieked because I didn’t want to hurt him. I read a lot about the tons of snakes on this trail – but it really did look like a stick until I saw it move. After stopping and running back I couldn’t find him so we decided he must have left the trail for the safety of the grass. If I would have run that little guy over that would have really put a damper on the whole trip because I seriously doubt I would have been able to stop crying.
We continued up the trail, happy to be in such a beautiful area, but literally every stick I saw from then on I treated like a snake.
It was pretty slow going because we were cycling fully loaded bikes, going at a slight uphill, and also I kept jumping off to take pictures. After 32 miles we arrived at Pettecote Junction which would be our campsite for the weekend. There are free campsites along the trail as long as you get a permit ahead of time, but we liked the idea of having a nice warm shower each night plus there was a camp store so we could stock up on water when we needed more.
We checked in and made our way to our campsite which was right by the water. After setting up camp, we ate some dinner enjoying the view and then settled into our tents for the night.
We started the day early because we had about 60 miles to cycle – I knew I would be taking tons of pictures and videos. We saw numerous deer, snakes, and other wildlife as well as some pretty breathtaking views along the trail. The northern end of the trail is definitely more scenic, but it’s also more remote – we were surprised that we didn’t see anywhere to stop to get a drink or a snack along this stretch of the trail until you arrive at the end in Wellsboro where there was a store that served drinks, sandwiches and ice cream.
I was having a strange pain in my back while I cycled. We actually debated turning around, but we were pretty much out of water so we decided to keep going. By the time we made it to Wellsboro, I knew I would have a tough time cycling back to camp. We ate some lunch to see if giving my back a break would loosen it up, but it didn’t. After some discussion I decided to call Pine Creek Outfitters, which offers a shuttle along the trail, and see if there was ANY way they could take me back to Pettecote Junction. They luckily were able to come get me. Tracy decided she was going to cycle back.
When the shuttle arrived there were a few people who were heading into Wellsboro so I got to see a little bit of the town before we began the hour or so drive back to camp. The driver was super friendly and very knowledgeable about the area – he even showed me where the ONLY place to stop for drinks along the upper section of the trail was – which we missed because it was off the trail a little and it was still early in our ride so we didn’t need anything at that time.
When I got back I walked over to Cedar Run General Store which wasn’t very far from camp and got some dairy free ice cream and a soda to enjoy. YUM!
My back was starting to feel better and I thought about cycling back up the trail to try to meet Tracy, but then I ended up chatting with the campers next to us for quite some time and next thing I knew Tracy was back!
We made dinner and settled in for the night even though the campers across from us were blairing 80s music. We were so tired that we didn’t hear it for long.
After a fairly decent nights sleep we got up early, made breakfast, and packed up camp. With our bikes fully loaded we said goodbye to our campsite and headed back down the trail towards Jersey Shore and my waiting car.
It was another beautiful day and we took our time enjoying the scenery of our last day – even despite the fact that a bird pooped on Tracy’s sleeve.