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Ricketts Glen State Park - Pennsylvania


Ahh Ricketts Glen. A shining example of great Pennsylvania wilderness. Ricketts Glenn was the very first place I ever truly hiked. In the past, of course I've walked around, and surely I ventured into the woods a little bit, but I never intentionally went on a 'hike' until my early 20's. I was a late bloomer for a lot of things apparently... This is definitely where the seed was planted. The "I need to get out and explore the outdoor world" seed. Ricketts Glen was the perfect place for that I guess, containing the perfect blend of a balanced hike, decently moderate, with some wonderful and constant waterfall views. Just when you thought you saw the last waterfall, SKLOOSH, another one!

Around the time of my first visit I was listening to the band Pond, quite a bit, quite often. A popular song of theirs is Outside Is the Right Side. Hence, the name of this website, and the beginning of my outdoor hiking itch! Thanks PA DCNR!

Ricketts Glen State Park in Pennsylvania is an expansive natural wonder, covering 13,193 acres across three counties: Luzerne, Sullivan, and Columbia. Known for its rich natural beauty, the park offers a diverse array of landscapes, from lush forests to a series of stunning waterfalls, making it a favorite among nature lovers, hikers, photographers, and outdoor enthusiasts.

The Waterfalls: One of the park's most awe-inspiring features is the Falls Trail, a 7.2-mile trek through the Glens Natural Area, which is recognized as a National Natural Landmark. This trail winds through an ancient forest and past 22 waterfalls, ranging from smaller cascades to the majestic Ganoga Falls, which stands at 94 feet. The diverse range of waterfalls, each with its unique shape and character, creates a surreal and picturesque hiking experience. 

The Falls Trail is considered moderately difficult, with steep and rocky terrain in some sections. Hikers should wear appropriate footwear and exercise caution, especially during wet or icy conditions. The trail may be closed during the winter months due to hazardous conditions, so it is recommended to check with the park office for up-to-date information. People have fallen to their deaths, so keep that in mind!

Near National Park Status: Ricketts Glen holds a unique place in history; it was once on the cusp of being designated a national park. In the 1930s, due to its extraordinary natural beauty and geological significance, it was considered for national park status. Though it ultimately remained a state park, this distinction highlights the area's national significance.

Lake Jean: The park's waterfalls are fed by Lake Jean, a 245-acre lake that lies at the heart of Ricketts Glen. This lake not only nourishes the park's extensive waterfall system but also serves as a hub for recreation. Visitors to Lake Jean can enjoy boating, fishing, and swimming, or simply relax by its tranquil shores. The lake adds to the park's diverse ecosystem, supporting a wide range of wildlife and plant species.

The Park’s Ecology and Wildlife: Ricketts Glen is home to a rich variety of flora and fauna. The park's varied habitats, from its wetlands to the old-growth forest areas, support diverse wildlife, including species of birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. Birdwatchers can spot a variety of species, especially during migration seasons.

Recreational Activities: Apart from hiking and enjoying the waterfalls, the park offers numerous other activities. There are options for camping, with facilities ranging from rustic to more modern amenities. Picnicking spots are scattered throughout the park, providing ideal settings for family gatherings or quiet lunches amidst nature. In winter, the park transforms into a snowy wonderland, offering opportunities for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and ice fishing.

Cultural and Historical Aspects: The park's history is deeply connected to the conservation efforts of Colonel R. Bruce Ricketts, the original owner of much of the land that now comprises the park. His dedication to preserving this natural area is a key reason why these landscapes remain unspoiled and accessible to the public today.

The Falls Trail had a partial close due to rock ledge collapse when we visited in Spring 2023. That certainly added more mileage to our hike, since we had to double back instead of doing the loop (we wanted to hit each falls)

In addition to the Falls Trail, Ricketts Glen State Park offers a variety of outdoor activities, such as camping, picnicking, fishing, boating, and swimming. With its captivating natural beauty and ample recreational opportunities, Ricketts Glen State Park is a beloved destination for visitors seeking to connect with nature and enjoy the great outdoors

A list of these waterfalls with their respective heights:

Mohawk Falls - 37 feet (11.3 meters)
Oneida Falls - 13 feet (4 meters)
Cayuga Falls - 11 feet (3.4 meters)
Ganoga Falls - 94 feet (28.7 meters) - highest waterfall in the park!
Seneca Falls - 12 feet (3.7 meters)
Delaware Falls - 37 feet (11.3 meters)
Mohican Falls - 39 feet (11.9 meters)
Conestoga Falls - 17 feet (5.2 meters)
Tuscarora Falls - 47 feet (14.3 meters)
Erie Falls - 47 feet (14.3 meters)
Onondaga Falls - 15 feet (4.6 meters)
Geronimo Falls - 7 feet (2.1 meters)
Blackberry Falls - 8 feet (2.4 meters)
Ozone Falls - 60 feet (18.3 meters)
R.B. Ricketts Falls - 36 feet (11 meters)
Kitchen Creek Falls - 4 feet (1.2 meters)
B. Reynolds Falls - 40 feet (12.2 meters)
Wyandot Falls - 15 feet (4.6 meters)
F.L. Ricketts Falls - 38 feet (11.6 meters)
Shawnee Falls - 30 feet (9.1 meters)
Huron Falls - 41 feet (12.5 meters)
Harrison Wright Falls - 27 feet (8.2 meters)


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