Exploring Ricketts Glen

Outdoor Ramblings August 2020—By Bill Deaton


It’s amazing how quickly a decade can fly by. The last time I visited Ricketts Glen, unquestionably one of the crown jewels in the Commonwealth’s network of 121 State Parks, was about ten years ago. At one time it was a proposed National Park but the Great Depression and World War II ended those efforts. Nonetheless, it is a National Natural Landmark known for old growth stands of forest and twenty-four named waterfalls within the 13,193 acres of its boundaries.

Hiking the 7.2-mile Falls Loop Trail is the most popular activity in the park. Good footwear is a must because of the slippery terrain but given the number of stops needed to take in the sights, there’s lots of time to catch your breath, making it only moderately challenging. Water and snacks are a must as it takes about three-and-a-half hours to complete the circuit.  

In addition to the Falls Loop there are several other pathways to explore.

  • Beach Trail: 0.8-mile, Easy
  • Cherry Run Trail: 4.6-mile, More Difficult, Visits dam and cherry grove
  • Little Cherry Run Trail: 1.0-mile Easy connector trail
  • Evergreen Trail: 1.0-mile, Easy self-guided nature trail
  • Grand View Trail: 1.9-mile, More Difficult, Hike to summit of Red Rock Mtn
  • Highland Trail: 1.2-mile, More Difficult, interesting geology on route
  • Mountain Springs Trail: 4.0-mile, More Difficult, visits dry lake, and dam
  • Old Beaver Dam Trail: 4.0-mile. More Difficult, alternate access to Ganoga Falls
  • Old Bulldozer Trail: 2.9-mile. Most Difficult, steep ascent from PA-118. Access to other trails
  • The Bear Walk: 1.0-mile, Easy

In addition to hiking, the day use area and beach at Lake Jean as well as camping also remain as top things to do at Ricketts Glen. Hiking can be done all year but access to the Falls Trail is restricted to hikers with proper ice climbing gear during the winter. To learn more about Ricketts Glen or all of the Keystone State’s parks and forests, visit www.dcnr.pa.gov