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Things to Do , Local, State & National Parks , Sports & Outdoors

Things to See & Do at Ricketts Glen State Park

Explore Stunning Waterfalls & Pristine Wilderness

Nestled in Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains, Ricketts Glen State Park offers some of the most majestic scenery in the Northeast. Just a short drive from anywhere in the region, this wilderness oasis feels worlds away yet remains a cherished local tradition for NEPA residents.

Ricketts Glen encompasses over 13,000 acres of pristine forests, lakes, and campgrounds ready to be explored. The star attraction is over 20 of the state’s most stunning natural waterfalls. The Falls Trail itself has a moderately strenuous 7-mile loop delivers nonstop cascades. From the 94-foot tall Ganoga Falls to the aptly named Waters Meet with its powerful collision of waterways – prepare for jaw-dropping beauty around each bend.

The splendor of Ricketts Glen reaches far beyond its falls. Over 26 miles of trails provide options from rugged treks to family-friendly hikes. Keep an eye out for beautiful wildlife like deer and songbirds on your travels.

Grab a park map and discover the highlights at Ricketts Glen State Park!

Falls Trail

There’s no hiking trail in Pennsylvania that delivers roaring waterfalls quite like the iconic Falls Trail at Ricketts Glen State Park. The moderately strenuous 7.2 mile loop of Glens Natural Area lets you experience the beauty of over 20 waterfalls rushing through majestic rock glens and forests.

The queen of them all is the mighty 94-foot Ganoga Falls – the tallest resounding waterfall within Ricketts Glen’s 13,000 acres of wilderness. However, the Falls Trail’s breathtaking scenery comes with challenges. Steep, rocky and slippery terrain with potentially icy conditions in winter require proper footwear and preparation. Visitors can opt for guided tours with Valley to Summit along the falls in warmer months and occasionally in the winter. For more moderate options, connecting trails like Highland Trail form smaller loops while still capturing that magical waterway scenery.

Discover for yourself why it earns its status as the crown jewel hike of Ricketts Glen.

Evergreen Trail

If you want the waterfall views without the 7.2-mile trek, then try out the Evergreen Trail. Just a few minutes into the hike, you’ll find the 36-foot-tall Adams Falls. Continue for a mile on the loop, and you’ll enjoy a serene walk through the stately old-growth forest, which is one of the few remaining stands in the state. Many of the trees are over 300 years old.

Parking for the Evergreen Trail is located off of PA-118, just down the road from the Glens Lot Trailhead.

Lake Jean

Lake Jean is open to electric motors only, which makes it a peaceful place to paddle your kayak or canoe. Picnic tables hug the shoreline, offering plenty of spots to rest and enjoy the views.

In the summertime, the cool mountain air and refreshing water draw visitors to the park’s sand beach, where you can spend the whole day swimming and sunbathing. A snack stand and boat rental shack are also open in the warmer months. But the lake is so much more than a summer vacation spot. When winter sets in, the lake freezes over and becomes an excellent spot for ice fishing.

Valley View Vista

Valley View Vista is an overlook branching off of Old Bulldozer Road Trail. It boasts an expansive 40-mile view where the mountain ridges extend all the way to the horizon.

But for views this breathtaking, the path there is steep with about 900 feet of elevation gain. For the shortest route, park at the Glens Lot on PA-118 and head straight up Old Bulldozer. At the top of the mountain, a sign points the way to Valley View, which is only about a quarter-mile walk.

Little Cherry Run Trail

The eastern half of Ricketts Glen truly captures the park’s wild and unspoiled beauty, and there’s no better place to experience it than the Little Cherry Run Trail. This quiet, remote trail is in the heart of the NEPA wilderness, surrounded by tens of thousands of acres of state lands.

Little Cherry Run is actually a one-mile connector trail between Cherry Run Trail and Mountain Springs Trail. Yet, there’s a whole lot of scenery packed into this short and sweet trail. The path meanders through a rocky gorge and along the stream, where you’ll spot small cascades and cross a few wooden bridges along the way. Think of it like the little cousin of the Falls Trail—it might not have the grand waterfalls, but the views by the creek are picturesque nonetheless.

Grand View Trail

This moderate, 1.9-mile loop trail reaches the highest point of Red Rock Mountain. Heading clockwise, you’ll follow an access road to a clearing, where you’ll come across a spooky-cool fire tower (unfortunately, it is closed to the public). The second half of the trail leads through mossy forests and thick ferns.

Despite the name, you won’t find any sweeping vistas on this trail. Instead, the best “views” are the brilliant and diverse plant life, like the mountain laurel blossoms in June and wild blueberries in July. In autumn, it’s an excellent spot to experience the fall colors.

The trail can be rocky and narrow at times, but the modest elevation gain makes it easy enough for families. Parking is available at the shale pit lot off of PA-487.

Plan a Trip

You can spend days at the park, and still not see it all. But if you have some extra time, head down to nearby Benton. Finish off a day trip with a stop at a cute shop or an antique store. Pick up local produce from a farm stand, or refuel at a delicious local restaurant. And if you want to stay the night, local B&Bs offer comfy rooms just a short drive from the park.

Article updated from its original version published on 10/25/2021.

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