Wellsboro PA to Little Pine State Park
May 4, 2012 – After spending part of the morning walking the streets of Wellsboro PA with my camera, we headed out Route 660 to take a look at some of the areas along that route again and then headed back into town before heading south on Hwy 287. Our plan was to travel along stretches of the Pine Creek and camp overnight at Little Pine State Park. The weather was really cooperating and lush green leaves of the Mayflower plant dotted the margins of the forest and roadside openings.(Route)
Hwy 287 from Wellsboro to Morris is a pleasant drive through rolling hills and farmland.
At the small village of Morris, we took the right hand turn onto Route 414.
Once we had left the town of Morris PA, highway 414 became narrower with limited shoulders. The pavement was solid so driving was pleasant and I could do a bit of sightseeing while driving. The first part of this route along 414 took us East into State forestlands and crossed the Pine Creek at Blackwell.
When we reached Blackwell at the junction of Babb Creek and the Pine Creek, we stopped for a bit of a picnic and enjoyed eating the bagels that we had purchased earlier in Wellsboro PA. Many people use the parking lot at Blackwell as their starting point or ending point for hiking and cycling along the Pine Creek Rail Trail. Personally, I would choose it as an ending point after cycling downhill along Pine River, as it passes through the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, rather than as a starting point but others seem to like starting with an uphill leg to a cycling journey. From this point, the rail trail follows the Pine Creek for many more miles downstream so the location also serves as a beginning or ending point for that direction as well, and therefore is a very popular point with limited parking space during the busier periods.
The Babb Creek is an important contributory to the overall flow in the Pine Creek since it drains a fairly large watershed and contributes about 13% to the overall flow. What the Babb Creek also did in earlier years was contribute a significant level of ‘pollution’ to the waterway. In 1990, Babb Creek was considered to be biologically dead due to the acidity of the water and the high pollution levels which was a result of coal mining operations upstream of this point on Babb Creek. This affected fish levels and benthic invertebrate survival levels in Babb Creek itself but also greatly diminished water quality levels along the Pine River downstream from the junction of the two. Mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies are the most sensitive and visible indicators of stream pollution levels and the drop in their numbers along the Pine Creek raised concerns about the overall impact of abandoned mine discharge and drainage into the Babb Creek system. In the early 1990’s court action and protests resulted in steps being taken to remediate Babb Creek and its tributaries and now 20 years later and after expenditures of more than $10 million, several species of fish are back in this area of the Pine Creek and trout fishermen as well as the Department of Environmental Protection are definitely happy with the Babb Creek Watershed Association’s successes in getting numerous private, public and volunteer organizations together to work to improve this watershed. This experience with the pollution effects of abandoned mine drainage is still fresh in the minds of many local residents and environmentalists and, not surprisingly, they don’t want to experience any similar outcomes relating to the current Marcellus Shale natural gas undertakings.
(Click on the three signage images below for larger images)
After eating our bagels, I wandered around a bit taking a few photos of the immediate area and then we headed out again on 414.
Not certain what this plant was, but it was showing signs of pretty vigorous growth over a broad area near to the parking lot.
For those who might need to reach someone in an emergency or for a pick-up at the end of a bike ride, there is a telephone available at the Blackwell site which isn’t full service (no coinage option) but does offer access for 911 Emergency calls, some local call exchanges, toll free #’s and you can use toll free calling access cards if you have one.
For those cycling south on the rail trail from here, the trail heads off over an old iron railway bridge and then follows the Pine Creek downstream providing nice views of the river at many locations. Highway 414 follows the same route but is somewhat higher up the side of the valley.
Rail trail near Rattlesnake Rock parking lot.
Highway 414 with view of rail trail below.
From this point, the highway shares the side of the valley with the Pine Creek Rail Trail and in some places I think that the rail trail is wider than the highway! At some points, the highway becomes quite narrow as it snakes along the edge of the valley but we arrived at our destination without any difficulty and were happy that we had chosen this scenic route even though doing so increased our travel time somewhat.
We don’t have Sycamore Trees (Platanus occidentalis) growing in Ottawa, so I am always intrigued by the nature of their multi-shaded peeling bark. Sycamores were one of many different species that we saw along this route. C, also known as American Sycamore, American planetree, Occidental plane, and Buttonwood