Over the Memorial Day weekend I made my second trip to Coudersport and Potter County. It was a bright sunny day, but a little on the chilly side, so the region made a better impression upon me. Ordinarily I would not repeat a trip within a week but I was not satisfied with the photos I took last week. I also really enjoy exploring quaint, small towns and going for walks in the woods. It is the only real adventure you can experience, a trip into the unknown. I am easily entertained by seeing new places. Even a shabby old building is intriguing because it is the unfamiliar.
On this trip I made more of an effort to take photos of interesting roadside sights even if it meant stopping along the highway. My first stop was to take photos of the “Welcome to Potter County” sign which includes the tag line “God’s Country”. That makes me think this is an extremely religious county, but it may just refer to the natural beauty of the mountains and forests. After that I stopped at the Black Forest Trading Post, a country store and gift shop. I also took a photo of their road sign promoting their deer park. I didn’t find anything I really wanted to buy inside, but I eventually settled for a large souvenir coffee mug. It is important to note the order in which I encountered these establishments along U.S. Route 6 because it provides a series of landmarks that tell you how far along you are on this long stretch of highway.
Welcome to Potter County – God’s Country
For example, beyond the Black Forest Trading Post I came upon the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum. I stopped there to take a photo of the large road sign and the impressive Visitor Center which is made out of wood. It looks like a huge hunting lodge. I didn’t visit the museum at this time because the parking lot was virtually empty and I was eager to reach Coudersport. I also pulled into the Sweden Valley Inn parking lot and took a photo of this rustic roadside diner and the road sign for Sweden Valley Cabins. This is approximately the area where you look for the connection to Route 44 which takes you to the Cherry Springs State Park. Therefore I thought it important to get some photos for my notes.
After that I finally reached Coudersport where I took advantage of the bright sun to take many more photos of better quality. I got some excellent photos of the creepy Victorian mansion which stands in ruin on Main Street. I also took additional photos of Hotel Crittenden, the Coudersport Mural, and the Coudersport Theatre. And I photographed the court house, the town gazebo, and the Civil War memorial which give the town that classic small town look. I had breakfast at Maple Tree On Main, a pleasant community restaurant. I ordered biscuits with sausage gravy and home fires and a coke. This was virtually identical to the breakfast I had at Fezz’s Community Diner on my trip last week, but I thought it was a little bit better here. I noticed a bookshelf of cookbooks behind the cash register nook which gave the restaurant a cozy feel. I could really go for a restaurant with its own bookstore and maybe a lounge where you can read.
Maple Tree On Main
After breakfast I drove to Patterson State Park. This park is little more than a picnic area with just one pavilion and some room for camping. However, it does have a trailhead for the Susquehannock Trail System and that was what I was interested in. The park was surprisingly crowded with a few camper vans, tents, and people having a picnic. I found the trailhead for the Susquehannock Trail System. This section must be known as the Kerr Trail judging by the trail sign. The Susquehannock Trail System stretches for 85 miles and crosses numerous state parks and two counties, so I had no intention of hiking the whole trail. That would actually require a week of hiking and camping along the trail. I only hiked for about a half hour and turned back when the trail started to make a steep descent. It is easy enough to hike downhill, but the return trip uphill can be brutal. I did see a deer bounding through the woods but I did not get too close.
Patterson State Park
I did visit the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum on my way back east on U.S. 6. I wasn’t too keen on visiting this museum but it did prove to be a little more impressive than I expected. They have an extensive outdoor exhibit which includes a massive sawmill and log pond, a locomotive used to haul timber, log cars, loader sheds, and even a Civilian Conservation Corps log cabin. It is like a trip into the past to visit a lumber camp. They even have a Sustainable Forestry Trail so I was able to do even more hiking. Part of the trail follows a very picturesque brook. I bought a pack of souvenir playing cards in the gift shop and a bottle of locally produced maple syrup, the nectar of the trees, which is sort of appropriate for a lumber museum.
Pennsylvania Lumber Museum
On the way back to Wellsboro, I pulled over at Galeton and took some photos of the interesting commercial buildings which loom over the curve of U.S. Route 6. I am particularly proud of myself for doing this because it was a little hazardous to park there, although there was definitely an area where you could park, and I really wanted some photos of this unique architecture. You rarely see large storefronts directly abutting a major highway or on a curve. One of the large building housed another country gift store, Heart’s Desire, which I regret not going into just to look around.
Galeton Commercial Buildings
As usual, I visited Colton Point State Park since it would be a shame to drive this far north and not see the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, the major tourist attraction in the region. I went to the most easily accessible lookouts to take some great photos of the Pine Creek Gorge in strong sunlight. But I did not hike the Rim Trail even though I parked at the trailhead. Instead I investigated another trailhead. I found the West Rim Trail, a 30 Mile Pathway, in a large parking area at the bottom of Colton Road. This parking area was almost completely full even though there is nothing there except the trailhead, unless I’m missing something. A 30 mile trail cannot be completed in one day so these cars may have been for people hiking the entire trail and camping in the woods. In other words, this may be long term parking. I did not hike very far along this trail. I did encounter a sign for the Pine Creek Gorge Natural Area, which I’ve never heard of. I’ll have to study my maps to figure out where this trail goes. It does seem to be a popular trail because I was following a couple of other hikers and their dog the entire way before I turned back.
I didn’t spend any time in Wellsboro because that town is getting a little old and I have taken photos of everything there several times. But I did stop at From My Shelf Books and parked right in front of the bookstore since there is no need to find a parking space now. I found the book I was looking for all day, Short Hikes in God’s Country by Chuck Dillon. This is the book about all the hiking areas in Potter County so I’m going to find that useful. I also bought a paperback copy of The Tin Flute by Gabrielle Roy. I thought I might already own a copy of this Canadian novel, and in fact I do, but it was only $2.00 and it is a cleaner copy than the paperback book I already had.
Some people would not find this trip very interesting, but I thought it was a great start to a Memorial Day weekend. I could have spent the entire holiday at home working on the computer, but instead I explored the great outdoors. The visits to small towns provided a nice bit of variety to all the hiking I did, three separate hikes. I should mention that the U. S. Route 6 is extremely popular with bikers who roam the highway in packs. Their bikes can be seen parked at every roadside diner and state park.