July 01, 2023
Nestled in the heart of Central Pennsylvania, Columbia & Montour Counties are a short half-day journey from a majority of East Coast cities, and just two and a half hours northwest of Philadelphia. The area is first and foremost renowned for its rural beauty and outstanding adventure opportunities, though the quaint countryside also offers up a treasure trove of local history and culture.
The local landscape is comprised of idyllic river valleys, rolling hills and green farmlands, as well as charming riverside communities, forests, parks, and state gamelands. The area boasts beautiful rails-to-trails for walking and biking as well as high-caliber races for the more competitive runners or bikers. In Montour County, the J. Manley Robbins Rail Trail is America’s oldest-known rails to trails system.
The Montour Preserve is also an outdoor enthusiast’s dream with a 165-acre lake perfect for fishing and boating, a bird sanctuary, maple sugaring in the early spring, and plenty of great hiking trails. For history buffs and archaeology lovers, a one-acre exposed Mahantango shale pit at the Preserve is open to the public for finders-keepers fossil hunting from dawn until dusk. For those looking for an aquatic adventure, the Susquehanna River is the longest and oldest river on the East Coast, and weaves directly through the area. The slow-moving Susquehanna is the perfect spot for a leisurely summer kayak, canoe, or tubing excursion. If fishing is on the mind, Fishing Creek is one of the best trout streams in the state.
Nostalgia is heavy in the air at Knoebels Amusement Resort, where the old-fashioned rides and secluded woodland setting evokes sweet memories of childhood. Knoebels has no entrance fee and offers free parking. The park has been named the “Favorite Traditional Amusement Park” in the country and the “Best Park for Families” by the National Amusement Park Historical Association (NAPHA). The park also boasts the number one wooden roller coaster in the world — the “Phoenix” — as awarded by Amusement Today in their annual Golden Ticket Awards. Roller coaster enthusiasts visit from all over the country to enjoy Knoebels’ iconic wooden coasters, as well as the park’s newer thrill rides like “The Impulse” or “Flying Turns” – the world’s only wooden bobsled coaster.
Columbia & Montour counties are also home to 25 covered bridges, which is third most in the nation. Picturesque and historic, these “kissing bridges” recall a time when life was simpler and closer to the land. On a yearly basis, visitors from all over the world come to admire the antique craftsmanship of the bridges and relax in the quiet countryside. Symbols of small-town America, these covered bridges coax travelers off the beaten path to explore little streams and forgotten dirt roads.
For those looking for more time to rest and renew, the counties offer plenty of lodging accommodations that are sure to make you want to stay an extra
day (or two!). There are over a dozen bed & breakfast options as well as
a number of hotels, motels, vacation rentals, and campgrounds. After a tasty
home-cooked breakfast, visitors can set out for a day of downtown shopping
or antiquing. Alternatively, an early stop at a local farmer’s market could
lead to a day spent enjoying local flavors at any of the area’s wineries or
craft breweries. The ever-popular River Rat Brew Trail is Central
Pennsylvania’s premier craft beer trail and encompasses fifteen enterprising
breweries with countless specialty drafts.
From earliest blossoms of spring to the last leaves of autumn, the counties have no shortage of fairs, festivals, carnivals, and parades. During April and May, many towns play host to weekend street fairs with local artisans, performers and authentic cultural foods. July brings cowboys and cowgirls to the Benton Rodeo and blues-lovers find their way to the Briggs Farm Blues Festival.
However, the two largest events in the counties occur in September and October. The Bloomsburg Fair is held for an entire week at the end of September. It is the largest agricultural fair in the state and features nationally known entertainment, agricultural exhibits, horse racing, games, rides, and an incredible food selection. Held just a week later at the same fairgrounds complex, the annual Covered Bridge and Arts Festival features more than 350 crafters and food vendors. The festival is perfect for getting a jump start on holiday shopping, as all of the items sold are handmade. The counties are also a prime destination for fall foliage lovers, with peak season often happening in mid-late October. Local corn mazes, seasonal foods, pumpkin patches, and train rides all add additional reasons why a trip to the Central PA countryside in the fall makes for an unforgettable family getaway!
To request a free Travel Guide and to get more information, visit: itourcolumbiamontour.com. You may also contact the Visitors Bureau by calling 1-800-847-4810.