Every time we get in the car, regardless of the season, I am so impressed with Pennsylvania’s scenery. It is an absolutely stunning state. Though we typically drive South or West, this weekend we packed up the camp gear, and the two dogs and headed North to the Appalachian Mountains. Nestled in the dense mountains just a few hours drive from Philadelphia lies Ricketts Glen State Park. Sitting at just over 2,000 feet above sea level, what was once home to Native Americans now draws campers and hikers from all over in search of a quiet break in nature. Though quiet isn’t exactly what you’ll get there. Sure the campsites are quiet, especially at night thanks to the strict rules strongly enforced by the state rangers, but what makes Ricketts Glen one of the top 25 state park to see in PA as well as a National Natural Landmark are the 24 waterfalls along Kitchen Creek. No, that’s no a typo or exaggeration. On the 7 mile Falls Trail there are a whopping 24 waterfalls ranging in a drop-off from 15 feet to over 90 feet.
As I mentioned earlier, hiking the Falls Trail through Ricketts Glen is not a quiet hike. With so many waterfalls so close together the water crashing down the mountain drowned out all chatter from people and birds alike. Many people drive up to the Falls for a day hike, but since we were staying overnight we hiked down 1,500 feet from our campsite to the trail head. Consequently, that meant that after navigating a tough hike of slippery rocks up and down an additional 1,000 feet we then had to drag our sorry butts back up the mountain to camp. Brix and Ollie seemed to fare better than we did, but once we got back to camp at around 4pm they promptly went to bed and didn’t stir until the next morning.
The weather could not have been more perfect, as it was in the low 70’s (F) during the day and dropped to the 50’s at night. There wasn’t a single mosquito and, despite the numerous bear warnings, the only wildlife we saw were two deer and a couple dozen butterflies. Truth be told, the state rangers’ warning about bears had me on edge, especially at night. Tried as we did to prepare for, or rather prevent such an encounter, the posted advice was “to contact a ranger if you have difficulties with a bear.” Now, in my mind “difficulties” is something you have with a flat tire, not a bear. And, if you are having “difficulties” with a bear, you’re most likely not in a position to contact a ranger. Keeping all of your limbs attached probably trumps contacting a ranger in a “difficulty with a bear” scenario. But that’s just me, and thankfully we had no such encounter, just a wonder camping weekend with the most fantastic 7 mile hike!