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Why Ricketts Glen, Pennsylvania Is a Waterfall Paradise

The Waterfalls of Ricketts Glen promises to satisfy the appetite of even the most seasoned waterfall chaser...especially those who know their way around a camera.

Back in 2018, I had a chance to visit Silver Falls State Park in Oregon. That park has a fantastic hike named the "Trail of Ten Falls", which features (you guessed it) ten major waterfalls. I was blown away by that place and had anointed it "The definitive waterfall hike" (more accurately would be "MY" definitive waterfall hike) in the United States! I told a friend about my experience there and he said, you haven't seen anything until you've seen Ricketts Glen State Park in Pennsylvania. And the best thing about it he said, was that I didn't have to fly across the country to see it. 

8 visits later and I absolutely concur with my friend: You'd be hard pressed to find a hike with a greater concentration of waterfalls, than the Fall Trail at Ricketts Glen. And these are not just any waterfalls: the trail boasts an impressive collection of waterfalls.

Park Background

Ricketts Glen State Park is a Pennsylvania state park on 13,193 acres in Columbia, Luzerne, and Sullivan counties in Pennsylvania. While there are a number of activities available within the park, it is perhaps best known for the "Falls Trail Loop" hike. This provides access to 21 waterfalls depending on the route you choose. There is also a 22nd waterfall in Ricketts Glen that you can see as well, but more on that later.

Access

There are 3 different ways to start your waterfall adventure:

  • Lake Rose Trailhead  (21 Waterfalls in 3.7 Miles)
  • Beach Area Trailhead (21 Waterfalls in 4.3 Miles)
  • Glens Lot Trailhead Route 118 (21 Waterfalls in 7.2 Miles)

I'll be showing you the route from the Lake Rose Trailhead. All 3 trails allow access to all 21 waterfalls with the Lake Rose route being the shortest option of the 3. All 3 Trailheads have parking lots at the trailheads. 

Safety

  • Make sure you wear sturdy footwear.
  • Make sure you are prepared for what can be a moderately strenuous hike. We are starting at the top and descending down approximately 850 feet down uneven terrain including some steep stairs. And then you will have to climb back up.
  • Be alert for fallen debris or falling debris. On several occasions, I've come across fallen trees or limbs on the trail. I've never witnessed them fall...but they fall at some  point right!?
  • Ensure you have an adequate supply of snacks and water, especially during hot weather. 
  • Have a flashlight just in case you're there when it gets dark. The light in this old growth forest gets low before the sun sets!
  • Do not rely on cell-phone reception here. I have never ever had a signal while on the trail.

Falls Loop Breakdown

Think of the Falls Trail Loop as a Triangle. Two of the points on our Falls Loop triangle are at the top with the remaining point at the bottom. The leg connected to the two points at the top is called the "Highland Trail". There are no waterfalls on this leg, but you will walk the highland trail at some point on this loop. I recommend walking the Highland Trail at the end. 


The left leg of the Triangle is the Ganoga Glen side of the Loop. The Right leg of the triangle is the Glen Leigh side. The water from flowing down those 2 legs of the "triangle" meet at the bottom in an area named "Waters Meet".

The Ganoga Glen side has 10 Waterfalls (Listed from the top down):

  1. Mohawk 
  2. Oneida
  3. Cayuga
  4. Ganoga
  5. Seneca
  6. Delaware
  7. Mohican
  8. Conestoga
  9. Tuscarora
  10. Erie

The Glen Leigh side has 8 Waterfalls (Listed from the bottom Up)

  1. Wyandot
  2. B. Reynolds
  3. R.B. Ricketts
  4. Ozone
  5. Huron
  6. Shawnee
  7. F.L. Ricketts
  8. Onondaga

There are 3 additional waterfalls south of where the Waters Meet (Listed from North to South)

  1. Harrison Wright
  2. Sheldon Reynolds
  3. Murray Reynolds.

Let's get into it!

First Leg: Ganoga Glen

Starting the adventure at the Lake Rose trailhead will takes you on a short stroll through the forest. You will come to a fork in the trail where there is the option to go left for the Highland Trail that connects the two sides of the loop, or go right for the Ganoga Glen side. For this guide, we are bearing RIGHT to start the hike descending the Ganoga Glen side. The Ganoga Glen side is a little bit steeper than the Glen Leigh side, so I prefer not to have to deal with that climb on the tail end. Plus it allows us to get right into the waterfall action!

Shortly after that first fork, you will cross a footbridge that will take you safely across some of the water you're about to be spending alot of time with for the next few hours. After the footbridge, follow the sign telling you to go LEFT towards the Falls Trail.

From this point on, the water will stay on your left for the entire run down Ganoga Glen. The first waterfall is coming up. Watch your step as you start your first slightly steep descent down to the first waterfall...

Mohawk Falls (37')

Mohawk Falls in early spring with light to medium flow

Like any waterfall, the personality of the waterfall depends on the flow. I've seen Mohawk Falls raging, but I personally prefer it right around here!

The next waterfall you'll encounter after a short walk is perhaps my favorite waterfall on the entire loop...

Oneida Falls (13')

Small falls that packs a big punch!

At just 13 feet tall, Oneida stands up against ANY fall in the park! I always get end up spending about 30 minutes at this waterfall! As a photographer, there are so many interesting compositions. On the day that this photo was taken, it was after a particularly heavy rain storm the day before. The brown streaks show up after heavy rains. 

The waterfalls just keep coming on these trails, so it's not very far downstream from Oneida that you come across...

Cayuga Falls (11')

The two spurs of CayugaCayuga is another relatively short waterfall, but I think it's a really nice one as it has two spurs. If you're not impressed so far due to the relative short height of these falls...you'll get your fix pretty soon. If size matters, then in a few minutes and after a steep descent down some stairs, you'll arrive at the waterfall for which this side of the loop carries it's name...

Ganoga Falls (94')

94 Foot Ganoga Falls

This cascading waterfall took awhile to grow on me. It turns out, I just had to finally see it when it wasn't raging. When it's really raging, you can't really get a chance to see the cascading effect as you see in this photo. Impressive indeed. Enjoy this impressively tall waterfall, because there is a good chance the next waterfall will seem underwhelming in comparison. 

Seneca Falls (12')

It should be named Rodney Dangerfield Falls because it gets "No Respect"

The very underappreciated Seneca Falls has it tough. After seeing the impressively tall Ganoga Falls, you get to Seneca and you wonder "Where the hell is the rest of it?!"

Additionally, the walkway next to it is a bit of a bottleneck due on the trail to its narrow size. So during busy times, most people don't want to stop and truly check it what it has to offer. It's actually a pretty interesting waterfall to observe, though admittedly challenging to photograph. I do wish I could get higher.

Continuing the descent down to the Waters Meet area, we approach some of the chaotic areas of Ganoga Glen shortly after rounding the corner from Seneca...

Delaware Falls (37')

Beautiful Chaos

The power of water is really on display in this area of Ganoga Glen. Rocks and trees litter the ground everywhere in the path of the falls downstream of 37 foot Delaware Falls. But this chaos pales in comparison to what you'll see at the next waterfall in the area...

Mohican Falls (39')

39 Foot Mohican Falls

Mohican Falls is one of a few waterfalls on the loop that shares the spotlight with a dead tree. If you weren't aware that you were in an old growth forest, by now it should be abundantly clear. The area of Mohican Falls has old logs littered all over the floor, and as you can see immediately against it. Also in this area is the Confluence of another River from Old Beaver Dam lake. So while you're staring at Mohican Falls, to your left you got water rushing down to merge with the water rushing from Kitchen Creek. As you descend from Mohican, you will cross a small footbridge that brings you over the water from the Old Beaver Dam lake. 

Slow down for a minute because you might miss one of the Unnamed waterfalls in Ricketts Glen

No Name!

Not everything on the Falls Trail has a fancy name!

Don't miss this tiny gem! Speaking of missing a waterfall, after you're done with Mohican  you will continue for a few hundred yards. Immediately before you descend down the next set of stairs, be very careful not to miss the easily missed...

Conestoga Falls (17')

It's VERY easy to miss this waterfall. Stay Alert!

It wasn't until my 8th visit to Ricketts Glen that I found this waterfall believe it or not. All of the waterfalls at Ricketts Glen have a naming label discretely placed near the falls to keep the place feeling natural. I just misread the trail maps a bit and was always looking in the road place for it. I think its one of the more unique falls the way the water slides down these long slabs of rock.

The final two waterfalls on the Ganoga Glen side are fast approaching, and they're two of the best looking. Next up is...

Tuscarora Falls (47')

At any flow rate, a beauty

47 feet is the number of the moment for the next falls. Tuscarora shines in any flow rate, but something special happens when it's pumping like you see in this pic.But not to be outdone at 47 feet, the final waterfall on this side is...

Erie Falls (47')

The Final waterfall on the Ganoga Descent

Cascading Falls really are the best! And cascading Falls are best without too much flow! On this day, there was the perfect amount of flow at Erie. 

At this point, you'e seen all that the Ganoga Glen side has to offer. As you continue walking down the trail...you will arrive at the confluence of the Ganoga and Glen Leigh waters. Welcome to...

Waters Meet


The footbridge that you see here allows you to cross over the Ganoga Glen waters to begin your ascent up the Glen Leigh side of the loop. In the distance in this photo is Wyandot Falls, which will be the first falls we see when we finally start the Glen Leigh portion of the loop. But before we head up that way...we've still got 3 waterfalls to check out. All 3 are less than 1/2 mile south of Waters Meet.

Second Leg: Waters Meet

The quick excursion south of Waters Meet doesn't change too much elevation, but it's worth your while. The 3 waterfalls we are about to see are actually the first 3 waterfalls you encounter when you do the loop starting from the Route 118 Trailhead. I don't particularly care for the beginning part of that route which is a little more than a mile (2 miles round-trip) of just walking through the forest. The Highland Trail is also a little over a mile with nothing particularly interesting. Doing the loop in the manner I'm showing you will eliminate a few miles off the entire length of the trip. 

The 3 Waterfalls that you will see downstream of Waters Meet are:

Harrison Wright Falls (27')

A very good looking waterfall

Harrison Wright is one of the more photogenic waterfalls in the park. But then again, so is the next one...

Sheldon Reynolds Falls (36')


I love this waterfall especially during medium flows like you see here. But my favorite one of these three is...

Murray Reynolds Falls (16')

One of my favorites!

Murray Reynolds is one of my absolute favorites in the park as a whole!

After you've seen all 3 of these falls, we make our way back to Waters Meet to start the 3rd leg of the adventure...

Third Leg: Glen Leigh

After crossing the footbridge at Waters Meet, we shortly arrive at the first waterfall on the Glen Leigh side...

Wyandot Falls (15')


Wyandot Falls sits just below a foot bridge. You will cross several footbridges on the Glen Leigh side as the trail snakes back and forth over the water. When you make your way up to the footbridge, you will get a good look at the next waterfall named...

B. Reynolds Falls (40')

The B is NOT for Burt

As you cross the footbridge above Wyandot, you get this view of B. Reynolds Falls, You will get another view of these falls as you climb some stairs to the right. As you continue along the right side of the creek on the trail, you come to another footbridge that allows you to cross back over the left side of the creek. You will have a clear view of one of the best looking falls on this side...

R.B. Ricketts Falls (36')

One of the best looking falls on this side

R.B Ricketts is named after Robert Bruce Ricketts, who preserved the old-growth forest in what became Ricketts Glen State Park, which is named for him. Ricketts named the 21 waterfalls. 

After crossing the footbridge to get back to the left side of the creek, you will ascend a little more and encounter the tallest waterfall on the Glen Leigh side...

Ozone Falls (60')

Tallest waterfall on the Glen Leigh sideAt 60 feet, Ozone Falls is the second largest waterfall in the park after Ganoga Glen. This is the view of the upper portion of Ozone Falls. Look at the top of Ozone and you'll see ANOTHER footbridge. You'll have to climb up the steepest stairs on the Glen Leigh side. After you cross that footbridge, you're on your way to the next stop at...

Huron Falls (41')

Huron Falls makes a sharp turn as you can seeHuron Falls is an interesting one. It has two parts: Upper and Lower. The water makes a 90 degree right turn after the upper falls. The old log is a staple of these falls. Similar to a recognizable feature of the next waterfall on the trail...

Shawnee Falls (30')

30 foot Shawnee Falls30 foot Shawnee Falls also features a huge tree log in it. After continuing on the trail for a bit, you're approaching the last two waterfalls. The second to last is...

F.L. Ricketts Falls (38')

Named after the younger brother of R.B. RickettsYou're almost near the end, but at 38 feet F.L. Ricketts is a very nice waterfall with spots for some interesting photograph composition points. Once you get to the top, be careful not to take the shortcut through the forest to the Highland Trail. If you do so, you will miss the final waterfall on the Glen Leigh side...

Onondaga Falls (15')

The uppermost waterfall on the Glen Leigh sideOnondaga is a very nice end to the 21 Waterfalls on the Falls Trail Loop!

Last Leg: The Highland Trail

The Highland Trial will take us back towards the Lake Rose trailhead. After all the excitement seeing waterfalls every hundred feet or so, this 1 mile walk along the Highland Trail is either going to feel like the most boring experience ever...which speaks to just how amazing the Falls Trail is. But after you get to your car, there is one more waterfall that you need to see!

The 22nd Waterfall

Adams Falls (36')

To be honest with you, I didn't even know about Adams Falls until my 2nd visit to Ricketts Glen. And I believe many, many people understandably miss Adams Falls. As a matter of fact, It's almost hidden on the Ricketts Glen Park Guides.

Adams Falls can be accessed via the Evergreen Trailhead which is across the street from the  Glens Lot trailhead parking area on Route 118 . The Evergreen Trail has it's own parking which also serves as overflow parking for the Glens Lot. 

The hike down to Adams Falls is not long. It's not strenuous. And maybe this is what helps make it one of the best falls in the park! Well that...and the fact that it'a  really good looking waterfall!


Final Thoughts

After 8 visits, I'm still not tired of Ricketts Glen! I've seen it in every season with the exception of winter...when the Falls Ice over and the trail is only accessible to those wearing crampons and carrying an Ice Axe. I'm asked alot about what my favorite season to visit is and that's such a tough question to answer. But if I had to pick one, summertime after a little bit of rain is probably the best. You've got the green from the tree leaves. The green from the moss on rocks and trees that give the place an otherworldly feel to it. Have you been to Ricketts?? If so what's your favorite season? 

If you haven't been to Ricketts Glen...well then what are you waiting for?

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!