Camping at Ricketts Glen, PA
Story and Photos by Kirsti Bauer
My husband and I decided to go camping for our anniversary, the end of September, and we picked Ricketts Glen State Park because it was far away from home (5 hour drive) and the park is known for having 22 named waterfalls. We got in on Friday evening, and discovered that the park campground was full (what? but it's not camping season!) Oh well, back down the mountain to find one of the private campgrounds. And glad we did - it was less crowded and more rustic, plus the campsite was only about 5 feet from the park boundary.
Heavy rain fell late Friday night and it was cloudy and wet all of Saturday and poured on Saturday night. On Saturday morning we had to take measures to keep the rain from soaking the tent anymore (an extra large tarp), and Sunday morning made even more adjustments as it started to rain when we got up. Funny thing was after all adjustments were made, it stopped raining, the sun came out; and the weather stayed sunny and cool for the rest of the trip.
We decided to head onto the trails to see some waterfalls on Sunday afternoon. We hiked only one side of the “Falls Trail” because we started out so late. But the way up and back down was listed as being over 5 miles. And let me make it clear that you do climb up and down.Sunday night we were the only campers left in our campground.
Monday we drove out to Eagles Mere which was advertised in this local newspaper as a great place to see raptor birds, but which was actually a small ritzy town built around a lake. It was really pretty, but very much a tourist trap. We then drove down to Bloomsburg for the fair, which was way too populated for us but seemed really interesting, if you can handle the number of people. I believe it was Monday, late afternoon, when we were sitting at camp that three hunting hawks flew overhead, but I did not have my camera ready, so I do not have any pictures. However, at camp was an interesting bit of nature – there was a vine which grew between two trees and made a heart shape.
Tuesday we were back on the trail, this time to hike the whole. We started up the opposite side of the trail (which we had not hiked on Sunday). The whole falls trail basically forms a large “Y” with a trail at the top of the “Y” connecting the verge, and is said to be 7.5 miles long. A hiker starts at the bottom on the “Y” and passes 3 falls before reaching the split, then you choose your branch to hike up; at the top of the mountain you cross the distance to the other side of the “Y” and climb back down to where the trails again meet. Each waterfall is unique, and for some of them the best view requires being able to cross the creek or stand in its middle (not always possible). An interesting point of the hike was noticing how a recent big flood had altered the course of the creeks and affected the waterfalls and the trails.
Wednesday we had to return home, but on the way we stopped at Penn’s Cave (near State College), which is both a cavern and wildlife reserve. The tours are on the expensive side, and combined they take about 3 hours, but I would say they are worth it, even if a little sad to see wild animals behind bars.
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Visit Ricketts Glen State Park, PA
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