Ricketts Glen State Park
Situated in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania, Ricketts Glen State Park is just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from our lodging. The state park boasts a whopping 18 waterfalls along a 3.2-mile hike on Falls Trail. There are even more if you continue on different trails, but the most waterfalls lie on a large loop. There is a total of 26 miles of trails in the park and since Falls Trail is rated difficult we made sure to pack with that in mind.
What you wear and bring with you on a hike is so important and in some cases, can even save your life. Depending on the weather or the difficulty of the hike, different things are necessary. We made our trip in Fall; the weather was in the 50’s, cloudy and windy, so it was necessary to wear things that kept us warm and dry. If it’s a warm sunny day and you don’t plan on getting in the water, wearing leggings, gym shoes and a tee with your flannel tied around your waist is the perfect outfit for this hike – #selfie. That wasn’t the case for us, so here are the things we wore/packed:
Keen hiking boots
North Face hiking pants
wool socks, hats and gloves
extra wool socks
North Face wind breaker
North Face full-zip fleece
camera bag & gear
We started off down Falls Trail when suddenly the tripod strap on the camera bag snapped before we even got to the first waterfall. Mind you, the first waterfall is a 5 to 10-minute hike from the parking lot! We didn’t even get 10 minutes into the hike. We haven’t used the tripod strap on this bag more than 4 times max so maybe don’t buy that camera bag if you plan some intense trips.
The second waterfall was one of our favorites on the whole hike, Oneida Falls. It sits on the Ganoga Glen side of Falls Trail and is a 13ft drop. The largest drop on any of the falls is 94ft and that’s the fourth waterfall on the trail, Ganoga Falls. Be careful around this one; there are adorable stone steps that wind down the side of the waterfall, but there is no railing and some of the boulders are dubious at best.
One thing I was a little disappointed in was the lack of wildlife. The entire hike we saw one, yes I said one, animal. It was a poisonous caterpillar, so I guess that’s technically an insect. We didn’t see any birds or squirrels, however, there was no shortage of people. As the morning turned into afternoon the trail filled up with tons of people!
At the Water Meet is a large map with a large rock and a plaque. This is where, you guessed it, the two creeks meet and merged into one and where we started heading back in the direction of the car. We traveled up the Glen Leigh side of Falls Trail, which has the remaining 8 waterfalls on the hike. Our favorite waterfall on this side is Huron Falls. Again, this one has a secret garden-esque stone staircase wrapping around the side and a pretty fair drop at 41 feet. At the top a girl sat with her legs crossed on the ledge in the middle of the falls where the water broke in two around her; which seems like a peaceful place to sit and meditate.
After the last fall, we turned down Highland Trail to get back to the car. The walk back may not have waterfalls, but it is not without its own sites. Half way down this trail is a spot called Midway Crevasse, which is marked by a very large boulder that looks as if it was split in half with a thin path down the center. Finally, we made it back to the car, it only took us 7 hours to hike 3.2 miles! I must admit it felt good to sit down somewhere without wind, but all in all, it was an amazing day trip to get out into the wilderness and breathe that fresh mountain air.