Joan Mead-Matsui

Ricketts Glen State Park Hiking

Experience Ricketts Glen State Park

Explore the Falls’ Trail System 

A steady stream of foot traffic along the Ricketts Glen State Park Falls Trail System is indicative of the popularity of this 13,050-acre park located at 695 State Route 487 in Benton, Pennsylvania. Young and old alike celebrated Father’s Day 2016 at the park with hikes and picnics.

We began our Father’s Day trek at the “Falls Trail” trailhead, which begins gently on a well-maintained walking path. Parents accompanied by young children appeared to breeze through this portion of the trail and I was delighted to see many adults use their woodlands walk as a tool to teach their children about the wetlands, plants, and wildlife.

Ricketts Glen State Park spans three counties: Luzerne, Sullivan, and Columbia and offers a variety of hiking options on 26 miles of trails. Falls Trail gently winds through a forest over several wooden bridges but don’t be fooled. It becomes progressively more challenging. In fact, the Falls Trail System is rated 7.2 and the “most difficult” of all the trails at Ricketts Glen and the steep ledges along that trail could be a challenge for anyone with acrophobia, a fear of heights. Ganoga Falls at 94-feet is the highest of 22 named waterfalls. Murray Reynolds was the first of six falls we saw and Conestoga Falls was our last stop before we decided to turn around.

Cascading waterfalls through rock-strewn clefts on the hillside are an extraordinary sight and each waterfall we experienced is remarkably unique. Hikers should also take note of the mature timber, moss covered stones, lush greenery, and occasional wildlife along the way.

Be sure to read the rules on the trailhead signs and leave your flip-flops and sandals at home because they are not permitted on the trails. Mud and moss on many of the stone steps and along the water’s edge can be slick and hazardous.

What should you bring for a day hike? Wear sturdy hiking boots and bring a backpack large enough to accommodate water bottles and a picnic lunch if you’re planning an extensive hike.

Ricketts Glen is spectacular and well worth the drive and the hours you’ll spend engaging with nature. It’s also a fantastic workout, particularly during the heart-pounding climbs.

Visit dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/findapark/rickettsglen to learn more about Ricketts Glen and other nearby attractions.

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