Hello Everybody! This week I’m going to share an itinerary that I made for Ricketts Glen Pennsylvania State Park. “The Glen,” as it’s lovingly called by backpackers and RV campers alike, is a 13,050 acre park situated 112 miles east of University Park. It has areas for tent camping, cabin camping, RV camping, swimming, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and hiking. However, the thing that this park is most proud of is its Glens Natural Area, a National Natural Landmark. Here’s a quote from the PA DCNR website: “Hike the Falls Trail System and explore the Glens, which boasts a series of wild, free-flowing waterfalls, each cascading through rock-strewn clefts in this ancient hillside.” In total, the Glens has 23 named waterfalls with the tallest being 94 feet. If you’re lucky enough to go right after a large rainfall, many smaller waterfalls will appear.
Before diving into the nitty gritty, take a look at the map of the park. This way you’ll understand my route and the logistics of it.
This trip is a very short one and is viable for beginner hikers. The trip will take three days, two nights to complete so I will be writing as if this was being planned for a long weekend. The hike will consist of about 9.5 miles spread over three days and will include stints on four different trails: Old Beaver Dam Rd. Trl. (.25 mi), Falls Trl System (4.2 mi unblazed), Old Bulldozer Rd. Tr. (2.9 mi), and Highland Trl. (1.2 mi).
I recommend arriving at Ricketts Glen Friday afternoon. Parking is available in Lake Rose Trailhead parking lot. This lot fills up pretty quickly on the weekends but if you get there Friday afternoon, it shouldn’t be too crowded yet. However, if it is full, park at Beach Lot #2 Trailhead parking and hike the extra .75 miles on Bear Walk Trl. back to Lake Rose Parking.
Now, lets break down the hike day by day.
Friday (1 mi): Arrive by 3:00 pm and park. Check your gear and make sure that you have all the equipment you need. Sturdy hiking boots are extremely important for this hike because the falls can get slippery. This afternoon you will not be hiking very far, but you will be seeing the largest waterfall in the park: Ganoga Falls. You will also be encountering three other named falls, so this take your time. Enjoy the beautiful scenery and maybe sit at a fall for a while to enjoy the peacefulness. After passing Ganoga falls, you will come to a fork in the trail; take the path to the right. This trail will lead you a safe distance away from the creek so that you can find a dry place to pitch your tent. Eat dinner, play cards, stargaze, and fall asleep to the sound of crashing water in the distance. Now that’s living.
Saturday (5.5 mi): Wake up slowly, and realize that even after only hiking a mile with your pack on, your body is sore. Then realize that today you’re only hiking 5.5 miles, and it’s a beautiful day; in short, it’s so worth it. Make your breakfast and pack up. Backtrack toward Ganoga falls and take the other path to your right that you didn’t hike yesterday. Today, you will see 9 different falls with the largest being nearly 50 feet tall. After hiking about 2 miles you’ll be finished with the Falls Trail System. You’ll come to an intersection between the path you’re on and Old Bulldozer Rd Trail. Here, you could rest and eat lunch at the designated picnic area or continue onto Old Bulldozer Rd Trail. Continue for another 2.5 miles on this trail. I suggest camping after crossing over the first branch of Bowmans Creek. Here you will be situated at an acceptable distance from the water so as not to pollute the system with human or food waste yet close enough that there is a water supply at hand for cooking, drinking, and washing dishes this evening. Set up camp, hang your bear bag, make a campfire, and enjoy one of the best sleeps you’ve ever had.
Sunday (3 mi):
Today’s the last day, so breathe in the beautiful sunrise and the crisp air of the morning. Make yourself a steaming warm breakfast. May I suggest a pot of oatmeal with dried fruit? And perhaps some hot cocoa? Alright, off you go – you’ll be hiking one mile on Old Bulldozer Rd. Trail, turning left onto Highland Trail, and finishing off the hike with 2 miles on this trail. Enjoy the views!
I hope you truly enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. I’m excited to visit Ricketts Glen myself, so I hope you are too.
“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet, and the winds long to play with your hair.”