Fed from the hills of north-central Pennsylvania, Pine Creek stretches 87 miles through historic villages such as Cedar Run, Slate Run, and Waterville on its way to the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. The river and its tributaries are beloved destinations for anglers and boaters. The section of Pine Creek pictured here is known as the "Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania," a 47-mile long canyon formed during the last ice age. Here, at Colton Point State Park, the gorge is 800 feet deep and 4,000 feet wide. The Pine Creek Rail Trail--visible on the left side of the image--runs along the mainstem and provides biking, hiking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing opportunities.
The Pine Creek watershed has only 22 people per square mile (compared with 274 in the rest of Pennsylvania), and it is home to well-managed forests, dark night skies, native trout, bald eagles, and diverse plant and animal communities. It once sheltered elk herds, mountain lion, and American shad. Looking from a high vista, one can almost imagine their return. It's harder to imagine the barren hillside of the logging era, when old growth forests were clear cut and log rafts floated to sawmills downstream.
Since then the landscape has regrown into mixed hardwood forests, accessible by many trails and old logging roads. The watershed has also endured the legacy of the coal mining era, which left many miles of tributary and mainstem polluted from acid mine drainage. Decades of work by dedicated citizens have brought about 15 miles of tributary back to life and restored mayfly hatches on lower Pine Creek.
--Lori Davias Maloney
Do you have a favorite, winter-themed Bay photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to me at enicklin [at sign] cbf.org, along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay and its waters mean to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!