As the season shifts from Summer to School, the Fall season explodes around us. The changing colors, the crisp nights and the shorter days make it a great time for a short get away to the mountains. The area around Wellsboro has a number of great family activities that can partner up with your homeschooling goals as the school year gets underway.
The Pennsylvania Grand Canyon’s Leonard Harrison State Park is just 20 minutes from downtown Wellsboro, and an excellent place to start. With views of the gorge which stretch for miles, you can engage your students in talks about how water and ice carved the mountains, creating an in person and hands on geography lesson. Take a stroll along the East Rim Trail, a short 1-mile path, and look for different types of trees and plant life. Examine the different colors on display and maybe some critters will cross your path leading to discussions about natural sciences. For some PE time, challenge yourselves to the Turkey Path. This trail leads you down from Leonard Harrison state park, following the path of mountain streams as they tumble down through a succession of waterfalls until you reach the floor of the canyon and the Pine Creek Rail trail. The trail is just over 1 mile in length but be prepared for the steep climb back up. Maybe add in a picnic lunch before the hike, or plan on eating at the bottom of the trail before the return trip. After you have returned to the top of the Park, take time to view the display areas located in the visitors center, and take time to look at the Civilian Conservation Corps Cabin and the Trail of History Marker in the center island of the parking lot. Still have questions? Ask one of the knowledgeable Park Rangers who will be happy to provide you with information about the geography, history, and wildlife of the area.
Another fun way to view the Canyon is with a ride on the Ole Covered Wagon. Running from May until the end of October, the ride last about 2 ½ hours and is led by a knowledgeable guide. As you sit inside the covered wagon, the large Belgian horses pull you though beautiful vistas while you hear tales of local history, information about the flora and fauna as well as possible sightings of Bald Eagle, Heron, Egret, duck, magassar, and deer. These activities can bolster your science, history, and even literature curriculum. Do a little research before you arrive about the Civilian Conservation Corps, George Washington Sears AKA Nessmuk, and the Bald Eagle to add to your schooling experience.
After a day in the great outdoors, check into your room at the Penn Wells lodge and let the kids spend some time in the pool while you relax in the hot tub. Dinner can then be found in one of the many restaurants that are within walking distance of the Lodge.
After a good night’s sleep and a breakfast at the lodge follow the Walking tour outlined in the Walking Tour of Wellsboro brochure. Stop and read the various trail of History markers that are in town, patrailsofhistory.com, and read through A Dutch Lullaby, a classic children’s poem, that is commemorated with the fountain of Wynken, Blynken and Nod at the center of the town green.
Round off your outdoor adventure with a stop at the Mansfield Cider Mill, open seasonally from September-November, where you can sample some fresh cider, learn how the process has changed, and NOT changed over the years and then purchase some delicious cider and other seasonal treats to enjoy at home.
Homeschooling is a challenge, but there are many ways to make it fun. Take time to explore what the Grand Canyon region of Pennsylvania has to offer this Fall.