When it comes to outdoor adventure in Pennsylvania, you usually need to make some allowances. That is why I was so pleasantly surprised by the Falls Trail at Ricketts Glen State Park. It is probably the most interesting day hike in Pennsylvania and can easily hold its own against more well-known destinations.
The Falls Trail begins at a parking area off Route 118 and is easily accessible for a day hike from most of Eastern PA. It is a 7.2 mile loop that seldom strays more than a few feet from Kitchen Creek and its impressive string of scenic waterfalls. Allow 4 hours or so to enjoy it all. While there is some attractive old growth forest and a couple of geological oddities on the loop, the real attraction here is the 22 named waterfalls. The falls range from 11 feet to a very respectable 94 feet. They are spaced regularly along the trail so there is always something to look at. The trail is shaped like a lollipop. The lower section that leads up to the junction of Ganoga Glen and Glen Leigh is the stick. Hike up to the junction then go up one glen, across the Highland Trail and back down the other to complete the loop, then return by the same trail you started on. If time is short, Ganoga Glen has a few more falls including the largest so start there. On nice days, the trail can be pretty crowded and many of the people you encounter will be pushing the limits of their endurance, so traffic jams at the trickier parts are common. Happily, the views are worth it!
If you are into photography, choose a cloudy day to visit. Not only will the light be better, but there will be fewer people to work around. There are endless opportunities for beautiful long-exposure shots so bring a tripod.
Don’t let the fact that it is in a PA State Park fool you, this trail can be steep and wet. There are many places where a slip and fall would be very serious so wear proper footwear and pay attention.
The trail has been closed at times after heavy rains due to washouts. To my knowledge that hasn’t happened recently but it might not be a bad idea to call the park at (570) 477-5675 just to be sure. It is closed in winter for hiking but offers some outstanding technical ice climbing if the weather cooperates.
When it comes to hiking in Pennsylvania, the Falls Trail at Ricketts Glen is a must.