The Waterfalls of Ricketts Glen State Park in Pennsylvania
Imagine yourself hiking through a shaded forest along the banks of a clear, rushing creek. Along the way, you encounter rock formations, bridges, and over 20 water falls up to 94 feet high that spray their cool mist on you as you walk by. This is Ricketts Glen State Park in Pennsylvania. If you like waterfalls, natural beauty, hiking, swimming, boating, and camping, Ricketts Glen State Park in Pennsylvania is a must see. With over 13,000 acres, 24 named waterfalls, and Lake Jean, there is something for everyone at this State Park. Read on for all you need to know for a day trip or longer to see the waterfalls of Ricketts Glen State Park.
Ricketts Glen first opened as a park in 1913. At the time it was owned by Robert Bruce Ricketts, who charged $1 for parking and the chance to see the famous waterfalls of Kitchen's Creek. Although the land was approved as a National Park in 1935, these plans were put on hold during the Great Depression and World War II. In 1943, the State of Pennsylvania opened the area as a State Park afer purchasing the land a few years earlier. In 1947 the state made numerous improvements to the park, including rebuilding the stairs and adding foot bridges with handrails. That year, an estimated 50,000 people visited the park. Today, the park, which was named a National Natural Landmark in 1969, attracts up to a half a million visitors each year.
Ricketts Glen State Park is located North and West of Philadelphia, PA just 30 miles North of Bloomsburg on PA 487. Allow about 3 hours to get there from Philadelphia using I-476.
Camping, Lodging and Dining
If you decide to stay overnight, there are several options. The most obvious is to stay at the park in a cabin or at a campsite. The park has 10 cabins that are available year round. Each has 2 or 3 bedrooms, a bathroom with shower, a kitchen, dining area, and living room. The cost is $65-$70 per night. The park also offers 120 tent or trailer campsites featuring flush toilets, hot showers, shaded sites and gravel parking spurs. The cost is $15 - $30 per night depending on the services you need and whether or not you bring a pet.
It's necessary to make reservations well in advance, especially for the cabins. A quick search done in July showed the next availability to be in November. Making reservations a year ahead of time is wise.
If you prefer a hotel, the best bet is to go to Wilkes Barre which is about 30 miles away. There are many options there, from budget chains to the more luxurious. Finally, The Rickett's Glen Hotel in Benton is even closer and has good reviews and a low rate of $50 - $60 per night.
Benton is also a great choice for a bite to eat if you're going to the park for a day hike. Strevig's Family Restaurant & Tavern had great reviews and is on the main road in Benton.
Hiking: By far, hiking is the biggest highlight of Ricketts Glen State Park. The most popular trail is The Falls trail, a 7.2 mile loop that features most of the waterfalls, including the largest, Ganoga Falls, which is 94 feet high. This hike is strenous though with plenty of hills to climb up and down. Even if you have a decent level of fitness, you're calves may be sore for a few days after hiking The Falls Trail. There are other trails that are easier and shorter but they may not come close to the splendor of the waterfalls you'll see on The Falls Trail.
Camping: Staying at a campsite or cabin is a great way to extend your stay and give yourself time to enjoy the hiking as well as the water activities on Lake Jean.
Horseback Riding: Horseback riding is allowed on several trails but horses are not available for rent. You must bring your own mount if you want this adventure.
Boating: Boats are available for rent on Lake Jean. Pedal, rowboats, canoes, and kayaks are available between mid-May and mid-October. The boating concession is open 7 days a week in June, July, and August and on weekends at other times.
Swimming: The 600 foot beach on Lake Jean is open from late May through mid-September. There's a food and beverage concession and nearby picnic areas if you decide to pack your own food.
Fishing: Fish for warm water gamefish, trout, and panfish. A permit is required.
Ricketts Glen has some of the best scenary in Pennsylvania with beautiful forests, amazing waterfalls, jagged rock formations, and rustic campsites. There's so much to do that you could easily stay for a weekend or a week. But if you can only spend one day, it's still worth it. Just make sure you hike the Falls Trail, absolutely the best attraction of the park.