The state parks in the United States are certainly something to behold and they are places that travelers must set foot in once they get to one of the 50 states. There are over 10,000 state parks in the U.S. currently so it’s understandable why people find it hard to choose which ones are truly worth the visit. If you want to try out something unique and out of the ordinary when it comes to state parks, then Pennsylvania’s Ricketts Glen State Park might just be the thing for you. Aside from an amazing trek along with the wildlife the park has to offer, you also get to see a ton of amazing sights.
The Ricketts Glen State Park sizes up at 13,050 making it one of the largest natural parks in the state of Pennsylvania. The park passes through the Columbia, Luzerne, and Sullivan counties which says a lot about its size. Inside these, thousands of acres are animals including the white-tailed deer, black bear, red and gray squirrels, porcupine, and raccoon are seen fairly regularly. Other creatures that could be seen include beaver, bobcat, coyote, fisher, mink, muskrat, red fox, river otter and an assortment of birds and insects. Behind the diverse wildlife are natural wonders that never ceases to amaze travelers. Of course, the management that runs the state parks also hold a few special activities that could excite any traveler.
- 1 Ricketts Glen Activities
- 1.1 Hiking
- 1.2 Camping
- 1.3 Bird Watching
- 1.4 Stargazing
- 1.5 Picture Taking
- 1.6 Boating
- 1.7 Fishing
- 1.8 Swimming
Ricketts Glen Activities
Ricketts Glen State Park is one of the famous spots in Pennsylvania. It has a lot of activities to offer that is perfect for all ages, making it one of the top Pennsylvania attractions that are family-friendly as well. It’s also one of the best spots for a weekend getaway if you want to relax and get a lot closer to nature. So if you are eyeing on spending a day or two at the famous state park, here are some of the activities to try at Ricketts Glen that you don’t want to miss.
Hiking is one of the top activities that makes many tourists come back to Ricketts Glen. This is because the state park has a lot of hiking trails and each trail has its own level of difficulty so you have a lot of options to choose from. Here are some of the state park’s best hiking trails from easy to difficult.
Seneca Falls Loop via Falls Trail
This trail is one of the most difficult ones. It has a distance of 8 miles and would take you for about 4 hours and 21 minutes to complete. That said, it is not recommendable for beginners and those who have kids with them. Still, it is very rewarding as you can get to see falls like the Ganoga Falls, Delaware, Cayuga, and of course, the Seneca Falls. See this map for a guide.
Onondaga Falls Loop
Unlike the Seneca Falls Loop, the Onondaga Falls Loop is a bit easier. Still, it can be classified as one of the most difficult trails. It has a distance of 7.8 miles and can be completed in approximately 4 hours. And while it’s not as difficult as the Seneca Falls Loop, it’s still not recommended for beginners.
Cayuga Falls Loop
If you’re not up for a difficult hike, the Cayuga Falls Loop is one of the trails that you might want to take instead. It only has 5 miles of distance and would only take you 2 hours and 44 minutes to complete. See the route here.
Harrison Wright Falls Loop
If you want an easier trail than Cayuga Falls Loop, try the Harrison Wright Falls Loop instead. This one is just less than 4 miles of distance and would only take you an hour or two to complete. It’s not too elevated as well. The trail goes by Mohawk Falls, Oneida Falls, Cayuga Falls, Ganoga Falls, Seneca Falls, Delaware Falls, Mohican Falls, Conestoga Falls, Tuscarora Falls, Erie Falls, Sheldon Reynolds Falls, Murray Reynolds Falls, Wyandot Falls, B. Reynolds Falls, R.B. Ricketts Falls, Ozone Falls, Huron Falls, F.L. Ricketts Falls, Onondaga Falls, and then Shawnee Falls.
But what makes hiking at Ricketts Glen State Park a whole new experience compared to many famous hiking spots is the scenery that it offers. Here, you won’t just see trees and plants but a handful of waterfalls as well. And when we say a handful, we’re not exaggerating. As a matter of fact, the state park boasts of more than 20 waterfalls. The area has so many beautiful waterfalls and breathtaking views to offer that a day exploring its waterfalls alone might probably not enough. A good reason to come back time and again.
If there is one other thing Ricketts Glen State Park is known for it is its many waterfalls. In total, there are 24 named waterfalls in Ricketts Glen State Park. These falls follow along a few places in Kitchen’s Creek including Glen Leigh, Ricketts Glen and Ganoga Glen which are all steep narrow valleys. The height of the waterfalls start at a measly 9-feet to a whopping 94-foot tall. Aside from the activities, these have long served as the main attractions in Ricketts Glen State Park and they are truly the sight to see. Here are just some of the waterfalls you should definitely pass by on your visit.
The Ganoga Falls is the seventh named waterfall in Ganoga Glen. It is also the tallest waterfall in Ricketts Glen State State Park with an elevation of 94-Feet. Many call Ganoga Glen as the crown jewel of the park as it is one of the most beautiful falls there is in there. Some say that the creek changes direction near the top of the falls and this causes you to see Ganoga Falls in various sizes depending on your perspective. What is worth noting though is that due to its height, Ganoga Falls should be trekked with caution. There are people that have fallen and suffered injuries at Ganoga Falls.
Kitchen Creek Falls
Located in Ricketts Glen, Kitchen Creek Falls is the shortest waterfall in the area at 9-feet. It is located directly under Pennsylvania Route 118 and it also has a carved narrow chute that is no more than 3-feet white. It is one of the staple destinations of tours in Ricketts Glen so you are bound to come across it one way or the other.
Harrison Wright Falls
Named after a lawyer with a doctorate in mineralogy, Harrison Wright Falls is dubbed as the most photogenic place in Ricketts Glen State Park. The 27-foot waterfall is surrounded by diverse greenery and amazing rock formations. Tourists can’t help but take amazing photos of Harrison Wright once they get to it.
Adams Falls is a 36-foot waterfall in Ricketts Glen. The waterfall is named after Adam Kale who was a watchman on Kitchen Creek under the employ of the North Mountain Fishing Club. According to the DCNR Pennsylvania Trail of Geology guide, Adams Falls is the most beautiful and the most accessible waterfall in the park. Aside from the pristine features of the waterfall, there is also a lower plunge pool called Leavenworth Pool. It has a diameter of 30 feet and a depth of 8 to 10 feet.
Ozone Falls got its name from the Ozone hiking club of Wilkes-Barre which was stationed at the Ricketts house on the mountain. According to legend, the namesake was also acquired as the falls in the area is believed to have a stimulating quality to it, thus giving travelers the much needed pick-me-up they need after a long trek. Ozone Falls is a cascade type waterfall so it is fairly easy to see its entirety from some areas near it.
Most of the guided tours in Ricketts Glen State Park go through these falls as part of the package. What is worth noting about the falls is that they are dangerous and they should not be underestimated. It is advised to avoid any horseplay while in the vicinity of the falls as some of the rocks could be very slippery. Once you are on top of the falls, try to avoid peering off the edges as one slip could prove to be fatal.
If you do plan on getting to some of the 24 named falls in Ricketts Glen State Park, then you should come prepared. Wear appropriate footwear like rubber shoes with rough soles to avoid slipping. Also bring extra clothes as you are bound to get wet from the waterfalls. It is also advised to avoid going to the waterfalls when rain is pouring as the trail could end up being very slippery.
What is most important is that you must not steer away from guides if you are on a tour. There is a reason why there are guided tours in Ricketts Glen State Park and that is to ensure the security of travelers. While the allure of the park’s waterfalls is undeniably present, you must always understand that potential risks are always present as well.
With its hiking trails along, spending a day at Ricketts Glen is probably not enough. So why not set up a camp? Yes, you can also set up a camp at the state park and it’s also one of the best activities to do here. The state park has some nice campsites to offer.
If camping isn’t your thing, don’t fret much as the state park also has comfortable and clean cabins to offer. Each of its cabins comes with a full kitchen, a living room (complete with couch and chairs), a master’s bedroom with a closet and a dresser, and a bathroom. You can also get to use their picnic tables, charcoal grill, and a fire grill. Perfect for a family outing, right?
You may have known Ricketts Glen for its hiking trails and countless waterfalls. However, the state park can offer more than just that. In fact, the Ricketts Glen State Park can also talk big about the bird watching activity that it can offer. This is because the place serve as a home to more than 70 breeding species of birds, And for that reason, the state park even got included in the official Audubon Susquehanna River Birding and Wildlife TrailOpens In A New Window all over Pennsylvania. Some of the birds that you can get to see are the Pileated Woodpecker, Brown Creeper, Barred Owl, Bald eagles, and several species of Warblers. So if you want to go bird viewing, the Ricketts Glen State Park is one of the finest spots in Pennsylvania for that.
The Rickets Glen State Park isn’t just about its hiking trails and waterfalls. If you look up as you camp, you can also get to see the nicest views of the stars. This is because the place is away from the city where there is light pollution. There are several campsites where there are lesser trees to block your night sky view so if you have plans stargazing, choose a site where there are less trees. Don’t worry much if you can’t find such spot in the campgrounds. You can still go to the Lake Jean that’s just in the vicinity. Here, you can really get a good spot to stargaze without trees blocking your view. What’s even better is that you’ll hear the relaxing sound of the crashing water in the distance as you stargaze in this area.
Of course, like in any tourist attractions, picture taking is one of the things to do when visiting the Ricketts Glen State Park. It’s not just for your Instagram feed but for a remembrance of your trip as well. But unlike any other tourist spots, Ricketts Glen is a different place for picture taking. This is because the place shows different vivid colors every season. During the fall season, you can get to see its trees change its colors, especially its oak trees. In this season, you can get to fill your eyes with hues of red, orange, and yellow. In winter, on the other hand, you can see shades of blue and white. Springtime will fill your eyes with different shades of green and it’s the time where you can get to see the different colors of the flowers in the state park as well and the list goes on. Every season has its own colors that are great for picture taking and you should try to see them all.
Aside from hiking, boating is also one of the things that you can enjoy while at Ricketts Glen. At the state park’s Lake Jean, you can rent boats during the summer season. Some of the boats that are up for rent are canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and paddleboards. You can also bring yours if you have one. Motorboats are allowed as well just as long as you have the necessary permits and registration papers with you. You have 245 acres of Lake Jean to enjoy so don’t miss trying out the boating activities that the state park has to offer.
Fishing is also allowed in Ricketts Glen’s Lake Jean. However, it’s not allowed in the Glens Natural Area. Even so, you can still enjoy fishing at Lake Jean. Here, you can catch warm water game fish such as trout, bass, char, and white fish. You can get to catch panfish as well. However, do take note of the rules and regulations that the state park is enforcing to avoid issues and fully enjoy the activity.
The Ricketts Glen State Park isn’t all about dry outdoor activities. The place also has some swimming activities to offer – not in the waterfalls, though. Swimming in the waterfalls is no longer permitted. But you can still enjoy swimming at Lake Jean’s beach. Yes, apparently, Lake Jean has 180 meters of beach for you to enjoy. However, the beach only opens from late May to mid-September. That said, if this is what you’re after, might as well check the calendar first. Also, note that there are limited swimming hours. You can enjoy the waters from 8 in the morning until sunset.
With all of the activities that Ricketts Glen has to offer for people of all ages, it’s really a destination that’s not to be missed when traveling to Pennsylvania. Are you planning to visit the state park soon? Which of these activities are you eyeing on? Tell us in the comments below.