Ricketts Glen State Park
Ricketts Glen harbors Glens Natural Area, a National Natural Landmark. 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. The 94-foot Ganoga Falls is the highest of 22 named waterfalls. Old growth timber and diverse wildlife add to the beauty. Ricketts Glen State Park is one of the most scenic areas in Pennsylvania. This large park is comprised of 13,050 acres in Luzerne, Sullivan and Columbia counties.
Hiking - Horseback Riding - Picnicking - Swimming - Boating - Fishing - Hunting - Education - Cross-country Skiiing - Snowmobiling - Ice Fishing - Organized Group Tenting - Cabins - Deluxe Camping Cottages - Camping
Picnicking: Picnic facilities are located in the Lake Jean area and in the lower area off PA 118. A limited number of charcoal grills and hot charcoal disposals are located in the picnic areas.
Swimming: The 600-foot beach is open from late-May to mid-September, 8 a.m. to sunset. Swim at your own risk. Please follow posted rules and regulations. A food and refreshment concession, boat rental and picnic facilities are nearby.
Swimming is permitted inside of the designated area only.
Explore swimming for more information.
Food and Refreshment Concession: The snackbar is in the park's Beach Area. The concession can be accessed by Parking Lot 1 or Parking Lot 2 off of Main Park Road off of PA 487, 3.7-miles north of the town of Red Rock. The concession serves a variety of hot sandwiches along with cold and hot beverages and ice cream. Other items include candy, snack food, and ice. The concession is open (weather permitting) from Memorial Day through Labor day, 7-days per week from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Boating: electric motors only
Motorboats must display a current boat registration. Non-powered boats must display one of the following: boat registration; launching permit or mooring permit from Pennsylvania State Parks, available at most state park offices; launching permit from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission laws apply. Complete information on boating rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Web site.
Fishing: The 245-acre Lake Jean has warmwater game fish, panfish and trout. Fishing is prohibited in the Glens Natural Area.
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission laws apply. Complete information on fishing rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Web site.
Hunting and Firearms: About 10,144 acres are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, turkey, grouse, bear, coyote, pheasant and squirrel. Common furbearers are raccoon, mink, muskrat, beaver, coyote and bobcat. About 83,000 acres of state game lands lie to the west and north of the park.
Hunting woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, is prohibited. Dog training is only permitted from the day following Labor Day through March 31 in designated hunting areas. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Game Commission rules and regulations apply. Contact the park office for ADA accessible hunting information.
Use extreme caution with firearms at all times. Other visitors use the park during hunting seasons. Firearms and archery equipment used for hunting may be uncased and ready for use only in authorized hunting areas during hunting seasons. In areas not open to hunting or during non-hunting seasons, firearms and archery equipment shall be kept in the owner's car, trailer or leased campsite. Exceptions include: law enforcement officers and individuals with a valid Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms are authorized to carry a firearm concealed on their person while they are within a state park.
Complete information on hunting rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Game Commission Web site.
Horseback Riding: 12.5-mile loop
Hiking: 26 miles of trails
CAUTION: Hikers on the Falls Trail should be in good physical condition, wear sturdy boots, and use caution due to slippery/wet conditions and steep trail sections.
The following guidelines will help ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience while at the park.
Falls Trail: 7.2 miles, most difficult hiking
The Falls Trail is closed in the winter except for properly equipped ice climbers and hikers.
Beach Trail: 0.8-mile, easiest hiking
Cherry Run Trail: 4.6 miles, more difficult hiking
Little Cherry Run Trail: 1 mile, more difficult hiking
Evergreen Trail: 1 mile, easiest hiking
Grand View Trail: 1.9 miles, more difficult hiking
Highland Trail: 1.2-miles, more difficult hiking
Mountain Springs Trail: 4 miles, more difficult hiking
Old Beaver Dam Road Trail: 4 miles, more difficult hiking
Old Bulldozer Road Trail: 2.9 miles, most difficult hiking
The Bear Walk Trail: 1 mile, easiest hiking
Camping: flush toilets, warm showers
Explore camping for more information.
Free Camping for Campground Hosts: one host position
Deluxe Camping Cottages: In the campground, five deluxe cottages are available from the second Friday in April until the third weekend in October. Deluxe cottages have minimal furnishings including a kitchen stove top, microwave oven, refrigerator, electric heat, lighting and bunk beds. There is no running water in these deluxe cottages. However, there is a restroom and shower facility for shared use. All deluxe cottages are ADA accessible.
Explore deluxe camping cottages for more information.
Modern Cabins: Ten modern rental cabins are available year-round. Cabins are furnished and have a living area, kitchen/dining area, toilet/shower room and two or three bedrooms. Cabin F is ADA accessible. Linens and dishes are not provided.
Explore cabins for more information.
Organized Group Tenting: Qualified adult and youth groups may use this 240-person capacity area that is equipped with picnic tables, water and flush toilets. The area is open from the third Monday in April to the third Monday in October. Advance reservations are recommended.
Explore organized group tenting for more information.
Explore the Winter Report for the current snow and ice depths.
Cross-country Skiing: Hiking trails may be skiied when snow cover permits.
Snowmobiling: Many trails allow snowmobiles after the end of deer hunting when conditions permit.
Ice Fishing: Lake Jean offers ice fishing. Ice thickness is not monitored. Be sure the ice is at least four inches thick and carry safety equipment.
Environmental Education and Interpretation
Natural wetlands, old growth forests and majestic geological formations, which helped produce 22 beautiful waterfalls, make Ricketts Glen an excellent choice for outdoor studies. From March to November, the environmental education specialist conducts hands-on activities, guided walks and presentations on the natural and historical resources for school groups, scouts, civic organizations and the general public. Call in advance to set up a program that will enhance classroom or group studies. Campers and visitors may check the bulletin boards and at the park office for listings of weekend programs and nature hikes.
Explore the Calendar of Events for a listing of events from today forward.
Explore environmental education and interpretation for more information.
Access for People with Disabilities
If you need an accommodation to participate in park activities due to a disability, please contact the park you plan to visit.
How to Access the Waterfalls
Twenty-one waterfalls are along the Falls Trail within the Glens Natural Area, while one (Adams) is only a few hundred feet from the Evergreen Parking Lot off PA 118.
There are three parking lots that provide access to the Falls Trail. Lake Rose is at the end of the dirt road across from the campground and provides the closest access (5-10 minutes), but fills up quickly during peak times. An alternative is to park in Beach Parking Lot #2, leave the lot and walk down the Cabin Road (first road just outside of the lot), past a park gate, and onto a section of trail to the first intersection where you go right (15-20 minute access). The parking lots on PA 118 are 1.5 miles from the first waterfall upstream on the Falls Trail, but allow a good view of old growth trees.
The full loop of the Falls Trail is 7.2 miles if hiking both the upper and lower sections. To see most of the waterfalls, a 3.2-mile loop can be taken by going on Highland Trail and the Glen Leigh and Ganoga Glen sides of the trail.
An enlargement map of the Glens Natural Area shows the waterfalls.
Falls Trail System at Ricketts Glen
Waterfall Tour of Ricketts Glen
Ricketts Glen is famous for its exceptional diversity of bird life, from 23 varieties of warblers to bald eagles, which is to why the park has been included in the official Audubon Susquehanna River Birding and Wildlife Trail across Pennsylvania. This series of trails connects some of Pennsylvania’s finest birding and wildlife viewing sites, as well as important historical and natural areas.
The Bear Truths
Many Pennsylvania state parks are habitat for black bears. Although they appear cute and cuddly like a teddy bear, black bears are wild animals. A black bear can scramble up a tree like a raccoon and sprint as fast as a race horse. Bears use their claws to tear apart rotting logs to find food, and those claws also work well to open garbage cans and coolers. The size and strength of a black bear are astonishing.
Black bears have poor eyesight and fair hearing, but an excellent sense of smell. Aromatic scents coming from your personal items can attract a curious and hungry bear from a great distance. Bears are attracted to the smell of toothpaste, deodorants, air fresheners, food and even the clothes worn while cooking.
Store all items inside a vehicle. At primitive, walk-in campsites, suspend food between two trees, ten feet in the air and three feet from either tree.
Black bears normally avoid people, but bears dependent on eating human food can become aggressive when people get between them and food.
If you come in contact with a black bear, try chasing it away by making loud noises like yelling, honking a car horn or banging a pot. Notify a park employee if you have difficulties with bears.
Never approach a bear and be especially wary of mother bears and cubs.
Hiker's Guide to the Trees, Shrubs, and Vines of Ricketts Glen State Park, by George P. Chamuris, Ph. D., Bloomsburg University. departments.bloomu.edu/biology/ricketts/
For detailed information on the geology behind the waterfalls, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey created the brochure Trail of Geology 13 Park Guide, Ricketts Glen State Park.
History of Ricketts Glen
At the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, Robert Bruce Ricketts enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army. Fighting for the Grand Army of the Potomac, Ricketts led Battery F during the Battle of Gettysburg.
Ricketts swiftly moved up in the ranks and when the war ended, was discharged a colonel.
Colonel Ricketts at one time owned outright or controlled over 80,000 acres of land in this area.
His heirs, through the Central Penn Lumber Company, sold 48,000 acres to the Pennsylvania Game Commission from 1920-24. This left them with over 12,000 acres surrounding the Ganoga Lake, Lake Jean and Glens area.
Although the area was approved as a national park site in the 1930s, World War II brought an end to this plan for development. In 1942 the heirs sold 1,261 acres, the Falls and Glens area, to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for a state park.
Additional purchases from Colonel Ricketts’ son, William Ricketts, in 1943 and 1949, resulted in a park nucleus of approximately 10,000 acres of former Ricketts holdings. Additional purchases from other individuals have brought the park to its present size.
Recreational facilities first opened in 1944. In 1950, the former Department of Forests and Waters replaced Lake Jean Dam with a larger, earthen dam, which combined Lake Jean with Mud Pond, creating the current 245-acre lake.
Other facility improvements and constructions have been done over the years, like the beach house, restrooms and cabins.
History of the Glens Natural Area
In 1868, Colonel R. Bruce Ricketts bought land in northeast Pennsylvania to timber it. Fishermen exploring the lower reaches of Kitchen Creek discovered waterfalls. Explorations revealed that two branches of Kitchen Creek cut through deep gorges in a series of waterfalls then united at Waters Meet and flowed through a glen among giant pines, hemlocks and oaks. Col. Ricketts built trails to the area of the waterfalls, which came to be known as the Glens Natural Area.
A member of the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society, Col. Ricketts named many of the waterfalls after American Indian tribes. He also named waterfalls for his friends and family.
The lower glen came to be called Ricketts Glen. Many of the magnificent trees in this area are over 300 years old. Diameters of almost four feet are common and many trees tower to 100 feet in height. The area is the meeting ground of the southern and northern hardwood types, creating an extensive variety of trees.
The Glens became a registered National Natural Landmark in 1969, and in 1993 became a State Park Natural Area and will be protected and maintained in a natural state.
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Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation
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We love when young people ask us how to get involved!
DiscoverE has programs for young people ages 4 to 17, provided by Pennsylvania State Park educators. By combining recreation and education, we hope to motivate children to learn more and return often, leading to a lifetime of outdoor enjoyment and conservation leadership.
In Watershed Education, teachers and students assess water quality of a local stream on a quarterly basis and develop strategies to solve local water quality problems.
ECO Camp - Exploring Careers Outdoors - is a week-long residential camp for a cross-section of high school youth from across Pennsylvania, sponsored by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). Participate in action-packed, hands on activities and recreational adventures in Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests that expose youth to conservation, recreation and careers in natural resources. Learn how people make a living working in the outdoors.
Explore education for more information on these and other programs.
Explore the Calendar of Events to find a program near you.
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Ricketts Glen State Park
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Maps and Downloadables
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Ricketts Glen State Park Map (.pdf) (1,888 kb, 10/14)
Interactive GIS Map
The Interactive GIS Map uses Geographic Information Systems to create a map that does not need to be downloaded and features driving directions, searchable park amenities and customizable maps. Please note that the background maps are maintained by a variety of public sources and driving directions usually go to the nearest large road.
Ricketts Glen Cabin Map (.pdf) (685 kb, 11/13)
Lake Depth Map
The park is 30 miles north of Bloomsburg on PA 487. The section of PA 487 from the town of Red Rock to the Lake Jean area of the park is a very steep road. Heavy trailer units should avoid this hill and enter the park by taking PA 487 south from Dushore.
GPS DD: Lat. 41.33517 Long. -76.30153
Driving Directions: The Interactive GIS Map has turn-by-turn driving directions to the park office from the Park Information Window. Please note that the background maps are maintained by a variety of public sources and driving directions usually go to the nearest large road.
Ricketts Glen State Park