Ricketts Glen State Park, Pennsylvania
Spectacular waterfalls, an abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities, and beautiful lake and mountain scenery, make Ricketts Glen State Park well worth the visit. Designated a National Natural Landmark, Ricketts Glen State Park is a treasure. Twenty two named waterfalls in and around the Glens are a significant draw to the park. With only less than an hour drive from Wilkes-Barre, Ricketts Glenn State Park is something everyone from the city should visit.
Glaciation has left its mark on the Ricketts Glen State Park; during the last ice age, glaciers covered all of the park except Grand View Outcrop. As the glacier retreated about 20,000 years ago it formed glacial lakes. Increased drainage from these lakes into Kitchen Creek accelerated the flow of water, which has been cutting falls in the glens ever since. The stunning scenery is some of the best to be found in Pennsylvania.
Ricketts Glen State Park encompasses 13,050 acres, and is available for many uses. Popular activities are swimming, boating, fishing, hunting, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding. But the big draw is the phenomenal opportunity for hiking. With 26 miles of trails, many of them very challenging, hikers of all abilities can spend an hour or a day exploring Ricketts Glen State Park and its enchanting natural beauty.
Ricketts Glen State Park Camping
Ricketts Glen State Park camping is available in two areas of the park. The Big Loop area is on a peninsula which juts into Lake Jean. Most of the campsites on the outside of the loop have direct water access. The Small Loop area is also available, and although none of the sites have direct water access, the well-spaced wooded sites are pleasantly situated.
Ricketts Glen State Park camping facilities feature warm showers, flush toilets, a dump station, handicap accessibility, and on-site parking. Within Ricketts Glen State Park, a boat launch, boat rentals, picnic area with a snack bar, 600 foot beach, and on-site staff are available.
120 sites can accommodate tents and camping trailers. Each site has a gravel parking pad, shaded area, picnic table, fire ring and access to a sanitary dump station. Nearby restrooms have flush toilets and warm showers. Electric, water, or full service hookups are available for an additional fee at certain sites.
Deluxe Camping Cottages:
Five deluxe camping cottages are available for rental. All are ADA accessible, and each features electricity, a basic kitchen, and bunk beds. There is no running water, but the modern shared bath house is close by.
These ten cabins all have electricity, a bathroom with toilet and shower, a living room and two or three bedrooms. Linens and dishes are not provided. One of these cabins is ADA accessible.
Getting to Ricketts Glen State Park
Ricketts Glen State Park camping area is about 30 miles north of Bloomburg, PA on state route 487. Be advised that the hill on this approach is very steep; campers pulling trailers are urged to enter the park from the north, taking route 487 from the town of Dunshore.
Ricketts Glen State Park Hiking Trails
A highlight of Ricketts Glen State Park is hiking; some of the best hiking in the country can be found within its borders. Since many trails are challenging, it is advised that proper boots are worn and good trail safety habits are followed at all times. Caution should be exercised, especially in the areas with steep drop offs. Hikers are rewarded for their efforts, however, with spectacular scenery in and around the glens.
This trail is the most popular trail in Ricketts Glen State Park, and for good reason. It is a challenging 7.2 miles of some of the most difficult terrain in the park. 21 of the 22 waterfalls in the park can be seen on this trail, if you opt to complete the entire loop. It is possible, however, to view most of the waterfalls by taking a smaller 3.2 mile loop by taking the Highland Trail and the Glen Leigh and Ganoga Glen sides of the trail.
This is one of the easiest trails in the park, and affords lovely views of Lake Jean as it follows its shore. Connecting Big Loop of Ricketts Glen State Park camping area to the beach (but accessible from Small Loop as well), it affords beginning hikers with a refreshing 0.8 mile walk before swimming or boating.
Cherry Run Trail:
Passing through a copse of cherry trees, this trail offers a moderately difficult challenge. An old logging road, which was used over 100 years ago, is evidence of past uses of the land. The trail may be accessed near Lake Leigh dam; hikers who wish to connect to Mountain Springs Trail may walk 3.5 miles on Mountain Springs Road.
Little Cherry Run Trail:
This one mile trail offers challenging terrain and serves as a connector between Cherry Run Trail and Mountain Springs Trail. Little Cherry Run Trail follows a pleasant stream through the old-growth forest.
This trail, one of the easiest in the park, is a family-friendly walk into history. Traversing one of the last groves of old-growth forest in Pennsylvania, those who opt for this hike will be able to see a Hemlock that has stood for over 500 years, even before the time of Columbus.
Grand View Trail:
As the name implies, this trail takes you to a spectacular view at the top of Red Rock Mountain. Views abound in all directions, and each season brings special characteristics of the area to life.
This trail offers 1.2 miles of moderate difficulty, crossing the top of the Falls Trail System and goes through Midway Crevasse, the passageway between two large blocks of sandstone conglomerate; this interesting geologic feature is an excellent example of the area’s glacial topography.
Mountain Springs Trail:
This 4 mile hike is moderately challenging, and as one of the less-hiked trails provides more opportunities for solitude. It passes the old Lake Leigh Dam, travels by the south branch of Bowmans Creek and ends at Mountain Springs Lake, now a dry lake bed
Old Beaver Dam Road Trail:
As its namesake implies, you can see evidence of an old beaver dam at the edge of the trail. This trail is a good option for both hikers and cross country skiers, and can access Ganoga Falls via a short connecting trail. Its 4 miles make are moderately challenging loop.
Old Bulldozer Road Trail:
Hearkening back to the inception of the park, this trail is so named because a bulldozer used to build the park traveled this trail. Most of the 2.9 miles are relatively easy or moderate, but be aware of a very steep section near the bottom. Find the trail head near the parking lot on PA 118.
The Bear Walk Trail:
This one mile hike is among the easiest in Ricketts Glen State Park, and connects to several other trails. It offers opportunities for cross country skiing, snowmobiling, and hiking from the cabins at Ricketts Glen State Park camping area to Lake Rose.
Whatever activities you choose, Ricketts Glen State Park is sure to captivate; with a dramatic setting as the backdrop to your adventures, you’ll soon find yourself planning your return.